Commission supports denial of Green Meadows rezoning request by The Pinball Co.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 | 10:41 p.m. CDT; updated 9:14 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 6, 2012
The Pinball Company, an Internet business that sells pinball and arcade amusement machines, has requested to rezone the area shown below from residential to planned business. The area is 1.45 acres, and the owners said they plan to build a showroom and offices for the company. The surrounding area is residential.

COLUMBIA — After more than hour of public hearing on The Pinball Co.'s request to rezone land from residential to commercial, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted in majority to support the Community Development Department's recommendation to deny the request.

Brooke and Nic Parks, owners of The Pinball Co., have a contract to buy 1.45 acres of land, which is located at 301 W. Green Meadows Road, from Rock Bridge Christian Church.

Brooke and Nic Parks own The Game Room Store, which is located at 1020 E. Green Meadows Road. They now want to focus on selling pinball machines — mostly online — and do not want to sell any additional products as they do in their current store.

During the public hearing, Jay Gebhardt, who is a principal engineer and surveyor for a consulting firm, the Parkses and their real estate agent spoke in support of rezoning the tract of land. The Rev. Maureen Dickmann, the pastor of the Rock Bridge Christian Church, wrote a letter in support of the rezoning request. It was read at the hearing.

Gebhardt said Brooke and Nic Parks "have been very attentive to the neighbors' concerns and the church's concerns and tried to balance those" in their building plan. 

Brooke Parks said she and her husband have held two meetings at Rock Bridge Christian Church since last fall to share the plan with neighbors and "used the neighbors' input to develop a plan that we feel is a good one and that represents the best interests of all parties."

Brooke Parks said she and her husband never thought that their plan and request to rezone the land for commercial use would be controversial.

She said the plan "minimizes resulting traffic disruptions, which will be minimal to begin with." The Parkses said traffic to the store would be minimal because 98 percent of their business is done online.

Traffic problems are one of the concerns that multiple residents and neighbors raised during the public hearing, along with the concern that having a business and office space is not an appropriate use of land.

James Reese, a nearby resident, said that though he thought the building was designed well, "it's just the wrong location." Reese also said the land needs to be consistent with the city's Metro 2020 plan, which considers the Green Meadows area as a neighborhood.

The City Council will hear the motion of recommendation of denial at its next meeting on April 16.

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Bill Fisher April 6, 2012 | 8:36 a.m.

I'm happy to see this fail. That spot is a terrible place to put a business, and would only hurt the neighborhood's feel.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 6, 2012 | 9:21 a.m.

I am also glad that this did not get approval, for the precedent it would set. If it was approved, I would worry that in the future, this would be tried again but in a far less considerate way.

And that last point seems worthy of highlighting. From the way this story has been reported, it sounds as though the business owners did everything in the most thoughtful and considerate way possible, working with neighbors to address concerns. I hope that others see this as a best practice for future development projects of any kind, and not something to avoid because of its failure.

If only more of the developments we see in this town - which too often run roughshod over anyone's concerns - were handled in a manner akin to what these business owners seemingly did, then we'd be better off.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice April 6, 2012 | 9:21 a.m.

How about an accounting of which commissioners voted for and against the rezoning?

Using service on P&Z as a stepping stone to elected leadership positions is standard fare. An informed and thoughtful public keeps track of potential candidates' policy positions and attitudes toward various parties.

Also, are the Parks members of the Rock Bridge Christian Church?

And why not a little explanation of how non-taxpaying religious entities affect the stability and integrity of residential neighborhoods? Why exactly would a church support an upzoning from residential (consistent with everything around it) to commercial of a property situated in the middle of a well-established, stable residential neighborhood? The same reason any property owner wants an upzoning, to try to jack up the amount the property will sell for. Me thinks somebody needs to get their Matthew 7:12 on.

(Report Comment)
Ed Ricciotti April 7, 2012 | 2:42 p.m.

Unfortunately it appears that the press in this town has failed in it's "fourth estate" mission of developing an informed citizenry. Instead of covering a local story thoroughly, they glance over the highlights before they give us an in depth report of the current gossip. This is why a totally unqualified council candidate can still garner over 1/3 of the vote in a council race just by misinforming constituents and spending tons of money.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks April 7, 2012 | 4:44 p.m.

Kevin, I think the fact that they live in this city and went to school here helped in that fact. Most other developments if you notice are from large investment groups from IN or AR or TX who are only in the business of building apartments in college towns.

(Report Comment)
Steve Spellman April 7, 2012 | 4:45 p.m.

This is such a tragedy. Outdated zoning controls and literally "Not in My Backyard" neighbors shut down a legitimate business expansion. It is highly bizarre that the City is incorporating more tax credits to stimulate new business growth on one hand, but is killing jobs like this on the other. Shame on these neighbors for not seeking a resolution, and just seeking to kill these local entrepreneurs' dream.

The traffic issues in that area are already due to previous growth, but are we saying that we should preactically force the property owners (the Parks or the church) to accept a lower-value for their land?

They are simply seeking to add value, be productive, the profit from which would put food on this young couple's table. People that get an education and a good job and choose where they live I guess should explain themselves to get permission from the collective, as well. This is absolutely dreadful to see the purposeful destruction of this young couple's pursuit of happiness.

"Brooke Parks said she and her husband never thought that their plan and request to rezone the land for commercial use would be controversial."

Even worse, what signal does this send to other would-be business owners, that our town is unopen to creative business ventures? I do not want to speculate, but I certainly hope none of these neighbors are prone to the type of extortion the East Campus folks used to get $100,000 from the frat house on College in recent times, because it was improbable that the board of adjustment would be a likely practical solution. Nonetheless, this is like watching a train wreck; I am rarely so angered by a story.

(Report Comment)
Ed Ricciotti April 8, 2012 | 11:46 a.m.

No, the real tragedy is when neighborhoods are trying to keep their character and their property values afloat, they are accused as job killers and extortionist. I do not see the correlation between the Beta architects breaking the law and this property not getting upzoned, other to demonize yet another neighborhood. Being a local couple, I feel sorry that they have to experience this disappointment, but this is the same neighborhood that had to literally fight against a pile of dirt not too long ago. Also the practice of these large development groups buying cheap land and upzoning them has also poisoned the well for this local couple. People of large means or perceived power in this city are getting quite nervous that those of modest means are using rising up and holding them to the law and accountable to their neighbors. My advice to all those neighborhood associations, don't let them bully you, you live there.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan Jordan April 8, 2012 | 10:01 p.m.

Steve Spellman: If you're so sympathetic to the proponent, write them a check--on your own account, not the residents'.

Ed: Amen. We invest in our homes, maintain them, and follow the all rules in reliance on the protection of zoning laws. And then some sleaze-ball comes along with some shabby re-zoning scheme to destroy our property values.

When we have the temerity to stand up for ourselves they whine, "Waa, waa, waa! We want money from the resident's pockets and they won't fork it over! Waa, waa, waa! Give us their money! GIVE US THEIR MONEY!"

And some officials will do it. For a little bit of favor from the moneyed interests. The 6th ward just rejected one such person in the city council race.

(Report Comment)
Dani Kinnison April 9, 2012 | 1:05 p.m.

Hi everyone, my name is Dani Kinnison and I'm the reporter/writer for this story. Here's the voting breakdown of the Planning and Zoning Commission on the case of the rezoning request by the Pinball Co.:

Andy Lee: Yes
Ann Peters: Yes
Stephen Reichlin: No
Bill Tillotson: Yes
Matthew Vander Tuig: Yes
Doug Wheeler: No
Rusty Strodtman: Yes

A "yes" vote was in support of recommending a denial of the request, and a "no" vote was in opposition of the recommendation of denial.

(Report Comment)

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