COLUMBIA — The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Thursday to deny an amended rezoning proposal from the developers of Brookside.
On Monday, the Columbia City Council approved two amendments to a request by Jon and Nathan Odle to rezone approximately 0.4 acres of land on Walnut Street, south of the Brookside on College apartment complex. The Odles requested the property be rezoned from R-3 (medium-density residential) to C-2 (central business district) commercial property.
The council then remanded the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which had denied the previous version of the proposal.
What happened: The Planning and Zoning Commission decided to recommend denial of the Brookside rezoning request to City Council in a 5-3 vote.
Commissioners Karl Skala, Andy Lee, Doug Wheeler, Ann Peters and Matthew Vander Tuig voted in favor of the denial.
Commissioners Rusty Strodtman, Ray Puri and Steve Reichlin opposed the motion.
The revisions: In May, the commission voted unanimously to recommend denying the rezoning request to City Council. Since then, two amendments were added to the proposal to address concerns. The amendments are:
- A transit agreement between the city and the Brookside developers is designed to address concerns of increased traffic in the neighborhood. The agreement includes a five-year commitment from the Brookside owners to sponsor the proposed FastCAT Express bus route and purchase semester passes for all of its tenants at the Brookside on College development and the apartment complex planned for the south tract.
- A development agreement between the city and Brookside developers would oblige the developers to assist the city with stormwater management by building a 48-inch stormwater pipe on Walnut Street from College Avenue west for about 265 feet. The city agrees to reimburse the developers for the project up to $55,000. This agreement would also lead to the construction of a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the south side of Walnut Street and an eastbound left-turn lane on Walnut Street.
Timeline: The Brookside developers, acting as the company Walnut II LLC, have been trying to rezone their properties at 1208 and 1210 E. Walnut St. since they purchased it earlier this year.
- The developers purchased the tract of land on April 6. They began planning an apartment structure there, which would house up to 450 tenants and mirror the structure of the Brookside on College development under construction in the company’s north tract.
- This purchase followed the Brookside developers’ announcement in March of their plan to build a four-story parking structure on the north tract to house their residents’ vehicles.
- Because the parking garage will not be complete by the time the Brookside on College development opens in August, the Odles have applied for a conditional use permit with their rezoning request. The permit would be used to build a temporary parking lot on the south tract. The lot would be ready for the new Brookside tenants in August and would be removed no later than Aug. 1, 2014.
- The developers requested to rezone their south tract from R-3 (medium-density residential) to C-2 (central business) property in April.
- At that time, members of the North Central Neighborhood Association expressed concerns about how the proposed structures would affect traffic and stormwater management in the area.
- A revised version of the contract, including the proposed FastCAT transit agreement, went before City Council on June 4 but was remanded to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review before the Council revisits the agreement on June 18.
- Pat Fowler, board president of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, spoke in opposition of the rezoning request. She likened the proposed apartment complex to a wall dividing the neighborhood.
- Fowler outlined several guidelines the neighborhood association would like to see if the request were approved. The guidelines included the creation of a specific timeline and budget for the proposed stormwater pipe, which Fowler said is not explicitly addressed in the development agreement. A majority of the commission expressed interest in passing Fowler’s recommendations to the City Council.
- Vander Tuig and Peters said they would like to see a full traffic impact study of the surrounding area before they would consider supporting the rezoning request.
- Puri said he would like to see at least some funding for the sewer system even if it is unclear whether the amount is enough.
- Wheeler said he did not support the developers’ rezoning request for its north tract on Walnut Street because of traffic concerns, but the developers addressed those concerns. Still, he said, the time frame of these amendments were rushed too quickly because of the FastCAT agreement and ultimately opposed the proposal.
- Attorney Craig Van Matre, who represents the developers, said apartments would still be built on the site if the rezoning request does not pass in City Council. He said there would be no material difference in traffic or stormwater runoff if this were the case and the FastCAT Express Route would not receive the funding it needs. After the meeting, Van Matre said his clients would continue on as they have and he anticipates that City Council will still support the request.
- Community Development Director Tim Teddy said the city staff supports the rezoning request in its amended state. Teddy also addressed concerns from some on the commission about the city’s fire codes in light of the recent fire at the Brookside on College apartment complex. Teddy said the complex was equipped with sprinklers but they were not operational at the time of the fire.
What’s next: The conditional use permit application to build a temporary parking lot on the developers' south tract will be presented to the city's Board of Adjustment for approval on June 12. If approved, the Brookside developers will move forward with their plan to construct a temporary parking lot on the south tract site for its Brookside on College residents while a parking garage is constructed on the north tract.
The amended rezoning request will return to the City Council for a final vote at its June 18 meeting. The council will also review the associated FastCAT Express agreement proposed between the developers and the city. The proposed agreement expires June 19.
Other Planning and Zoning news: The commission decided to postpone its decision on a request to establish permanent C-P zoning at the former location of Peppers Nightclub, 4515 N. Highway 763. The issue will be revisited at the commission's next meeting on June 21.
Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.