Columbia City Council to amend blight resolution

Monday, May 7, 2012 | 3:04 p.m. CDT; updated 6:54 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 7, 2012

*This story has been corrected to reflect that the Missouri Department of Economic Development used data from the 2000 Census to determine which areas of Columbia would be eligible for designation as an enhanced enterprise zone.

COLUMBIA — The City Council agenda for Monday includes amending the resolution that found and certified portions of Columbia and Boone County to contain inadequacies that lead to blight.

A resolution to rescind the heavily contended enhanced enterprise zone blight decree will be considered by Columbia City Council at Monday's meeting.

Originally adopted by the council Feb. 6, Resolution 20-12A established an Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board and certified that a portion of Columbia and pieces of Boone County contained "inadequacies that lead to blight."

Under the enhanced enterprise zones state statute, establishing a blight decree was a necessary step in the process of creating an enhanced enterprise zone. The Missouri Department of Economic Development used poverty and unemployment statistics from the 2000* Census to determine which areas qualified as blighted. The areas considered blighted made up the boundaries of the zone map.

Yet the blight decree opened the flood gates to public backlash concerning potential eminent domain abuse, declining property values, the use of 12-year-old data to paint an economic portrait and skepticism regarding the effectiveness of enhanced enterprise zones as tools for economic development.

In response to the community's consternation, Regional Economic Development Inc. has been working with the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board at shaving down the zone map, mainly focusing on removing downtown Columbia and highly residential areas.

If rescinded, a new declaration of blight will be introduced in the form of an ordinance at an upcoming council meeting. The map will have to be re-approved, but the seven-member Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board will remain intact.

Other items on Monday's agenda:

  • In a public hearing, A Civil Group, on behalf of BHS Properties, has requested voluntary annexation of property on the north side of Smiley Lane. The parcels of land in question are part of a property that contains both land within city limits and land in unincorporated Boone County.  The owners have requested M-P, or planned industrial zoning for the property.

Old business:

Other agenda items include:

  • First readings, which won't actually be discussed at Monday's meeting, include authorizing a right of use permit with Stephens College for the construction of a pedestrian bridge on East Broadway. This bridge will replace the current one across East Broadway. City staff has recommended the council approve the request.
  • The Consent Agenda includes authorizing plans for the rehabilitation of the taxiway at the Columbia Regional Airport and calling for bids through the Purchasing Division.
  • The Consent Agenda also includes authorizing the construction of street improvements to Forum Boulevard. The plans involve widening Forum Boulevard and adding a traffic lane from Katy Lane to the bridge over Hinkson Creek to accommodate left turn movements from Forum Boulevard into the Victoria Park driveway and MKT driveway. A public hearing was held about the plan March 19.

The full agenda can be found at the city's website. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 701 E. Broadway.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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