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Columbia City Council to consider rescission of blight map

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | 12:20 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After more than two months of public push back, the Columbia City Council might partially rescind its Feb. 6 resolution that designated more than half the city as blighted.

In response to a report given Monday by the Regional Economic Development Inc. to address the consequences of rescinding the blight decree, the council approved a motion to draft a resolution that would rescind certification of a map that encompasses blighted areas. Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony made a motion to hear the resolution at the next meeting.

But public concerns remain about the second provision of the February resolution, which also established a seven-member Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board. In order to develop an enhanced enterprise zone, the formation of an advisory board is required by state statute.

In its report to the council, REDI wrote that rescinding the resolution in its entirety would eliminate the advisory board and thus "all of the work and effort that has gone into this process, all of which has been done in good faith effort” by the board.

Residents, however, felt left out of the determination of the advisory board’s members.

"The Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board suffers from the same problems as the blight map," said Jeremy Root, a Columbia resident who got up to speak during public comment. "Although there has been good work done by the advisory board, there are genuine concerns about its representativeness."

A political action committee, Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia, circulated a petition last week contesting the legality of the board's formation. They argued that, in creating a governing body with potential legislative power by resolution, the council violated city charter and deprived citizens of their rightful input in the process.

Dan Goldstein, a member of the group who spoke during public comment, reported Monday night that it has gathered more than 700 signatures in its efforts so far.

But Anthony pointed to the board's ability to provide recommendations to the council as a benefit.

"It is not my wish at all to rescind that part of the resolution," Anthony said, adding that the council relied on the board's advice to adopt a smaller map, a process in which Columbia's "engaged citizenry" should also play a role.

Per Anthony's motion, if the resolution passes the council would certify the map with an ordinance, which allows for public hearings.

REDI President Mike Brooks said he anticipates a finalized version of the map to be available by the first week of May.


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Comments

Mike Martin April 17, 2012 | 9:56 a.m.

This wasn't a "good faith effort" on REDI's part, if over 1,000 emails and other documents released by the City under the Sunshine Law are any indication.

They started meeting behind closed doors with Mayor McDavid last July, building their own internal momentum exclusive of Columbia's citizens.

They did haphazard research, using legal opinions from other towns without the knowledge or consent of the lawyers who wrote those opinions.

They cheaped out on professional fees by using a student intern for the bulk of their reports, and by failing to hire legal counsel to go over their findings.

REDI instructed County legal counsel CJ Dykhouse to meet "individually" with County Commissioners (since the city Resolution blights a big part of Boone County, too). In so doing, REDI skirted the Sunshine Law and left Commissioner Karen Miller "completely in the dark," (her words).

Then they blamed CJ for leaving Miller in the dark!

REDI rushed the proposal past the City Council, putting the "cart before the horse" and creating a "backwards process," City Council members Barbara Hoppe and Helen Anthony have repeatedly complained.

When citizens got wind of all this and started pushing back, REDI chairman Dave Griggs made fun of them and labeled them haters and such.

About some of that critique, Dave emailed the Mayor and city manager: "Here’s what I mentioned to you earlier today. You’ll love it! Your BLIGHTER in Chief – don’t you like my new official title!!"

To Councilman Fred Schmidt, who praised the Blight Decree in his First Ward update e-newsletter, Dave had this to say about citizen concerns:

"I have also seen some of the BS that you've been sent as a result of your First Ward update. How very sad that some people simply turn to hate and fear in order to attempt to save face in situations like this opportunity."

REDI has also misrepresented the impact of EEZs on other communities, continually claiming that no problems have arisen anywhere but here.

Not so:
http://www.rollanet.org/~rwnash/nsn_02_8...

And that isn't the half of it, as we're still plowing through all the emails and other documents.

If this was a good faith effort, I'd hate to see what these guys consider bad faith.

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(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders April 17, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.

Make them undo something, and they'll make it worse just to spite you.

(Report Comment)

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