COLUMBIA — The North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association continued discussions Tuesday with developer Nathan Odle and his lawyer Craig Van Matre concerning development on the corner of Walnut Street and College Avenue.
Director of Public Works John Glascock and First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt attended the meeting where concerns about traffic and storm water were addressed.
The discussions began with the announcement that the developers will be building a parking garage behind the apartment complex being constructed on the northwest corner of College Avenue and Walnut Street. The announcement coincides with the developers' request to rezone part of their recently acquired property on the south side of Walnut Street.
Neighborhood association member Mara Aruguete said that despite the 80 spaces rented from a city garage and 100 spaces in the temporary lot the developers have planned for the site on the south side of Walnut Street, the influx of students in August will put pressure on parking in the neighborhood.
She said parking is already very limited in the neighborhood because of shared driveways, and residents need to park on the street. The association wants a provision for residential parking permits.
At the meeting, Glascock agreed to bring a report to the city concerning residential parking permits as soon as possible.
Aruguete said another concern is that Ash Street needs to remain a calm street.
"You are adding a whole lot of cars to a designated bike boulevard, and extra provisions need to be made," she said.
Van Matre said an agreement has been reached that the Ash Street entrance to the garage the developers plan to build will be right-in-right-out. The purpose of this is to make it safer for bikes.
Aruguete also said the neighborhood association would like to hold a public meeting about strategies for preserving the bike boulevard.
Aruguete said the big concern with storm water is still the issue of what will happen if the pipes are overwhelmed.
"No one knows what will happen when we get a storm, but we can predict it will be worse as a result of the development," she said.
Van Matre said that the development will not contribute a significant amount to the storm water in the problem area.
Aruguete said that in terms of storm water, the city needs to make changes to create sustainable infrastructure, such as raising storm water fees to pay for improvements, Aruguete said.
Aruguete and Van Matre agreed that the neighborhood association needs to put pressure on the city.
"It's a numbers game," he said. "If you pack the room, they will care."
Van Matre said he will write a letter on behalf of his clients asking the city to put the storm water improvements at the top of the list.
The neighborhood association agreed with Van Matre during the meeting that he will draft a contract in the next few days so that it can begin to be negotiated and revised before the Planning and Zoning meeting on May 10.
The contract would include provisions from the developers involving the association's concerns in exchange for the association's support in asking the city for rezoning on the south side of Walnut Street to central business district zoning. Van Matre said if the city were to deny the rezoning request, the contract would be void.
"We are concerned that if the zoning is denied and the contract is void, all the work and time would be for nothing," Aruguete said.
Van Matre said he believes that if he presents the city with this deal, the city will approve the zoning.