Columbia council decides to hire zoning consultant, approves transit changes

Monday, August 6, 2012 | 10:05 p.m. CDT; updated 10:26 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — The City Council unanimously approved to hire a consultant to help revise the zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations Monday night.

The main goal of hiring this consultant is to provide some “outside muscle,” city manager Mike Matthes said.

The hiring of a consultant should cost around $150,000, he said. Funding will come from the Fund Balance, Contingency and Council Reserve accounts.

The consultant will be tasked with ensuring that new zoning regulations will be consistent with Columbia’s new comprehensive plan.

When asked for a timeline for this project's completion, Community Development Director Tim Teddy said it would be 12 months at the minimum and that 18 months is common.

Councilwoman Helen Anthony praised the idea of hiring a consultant to helpwith the overhauling of zoning regulations that she considers antiquated.

The overhaul might include moving toward a form-based zoning code. Mayor Bob McDavid said there might be unforeseen consequences of making that change. 

Councilman Fred Schmidt said he hopes hiring a consultant with outside experience would help Columbia avoid some of the pitfalls and consequences other cities have encountered.

Anthony said form-based zoning will be very useful in certain areas of Columbia, such as downtown, and will not be used in residential areas.

“Form-based zoning will not replace existing zoning, but it’s another tool in the toolbox,” Anthony said.

Columbia Transit changes

The meeting also included discussion about changes to the Columbia Transit System because of the FastCAT addition. Since FastCAT will be replacing the 106 Downtown Orbiter route, there were concerns that buses would no longer pick up at Paquin Tower. The 104 Southeast will be adjusted to pick up at Paquin to avoid any loss in service.

McDavid called the FastCAT route the “first important step” to expanding the transit system.

The FastCAT route will be free for the first two weeks of service from Aug 13 to 27 to promote the route.

Bus services will also be extended to tenants of Campus View and The Pointe at Rock Quarry Park. John Glascock, head of public works, said two more contracts with other apartment complexes are in negotiations.

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.

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Phil Wilkinson August 7, 2012 | 5:05 a.m.

150K from the city "Fund Balance, Contingency and Council Reserve accounts". I'm no CPA but I would think that the requirements to use this account for what it is/was designed for has nothing to do with hiring consultants. I've often wondered (when the city hires consultants), why we never use assets available from the colleges here in town.
I'm just wondering is all....................

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 7, 2012 | 5:22 a.m.

Well, Phil, I've also wondered why MU doesn't make use of University of Missouri System expertise that's not located in Columbia. If that had been done, "Tiger Spot" probably wouldn't have been installed outdoors*, and MU would have been spared money and embarrassment.

*-The experts would have explained why that wasn't a good idea.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 7, 2012 | 9:58 a.m.

When senior city administrators hire local talent, such as that available at Mizzou, they don't get ahead on the "circuit."

Outside consultants can be a networking lifeline to climbing administrators who want to keep moving upward and onward in other venues. They can provide insider leads on jobs in other cities; formal and informal references; and inside tips on what it takes to get a job in another city where they've worked.

This issue came up in 2010, when CPS Superintendent Belcher brought in an outside consultant -- RSP Associates -- he had a long, previous relationship with in Kearney, Mo. We got wind of the story because of complaints from other consultants Dr. Belcher was shutting out.

The dustup over city manager Matthes' severance package doubling is a strong indication that he has plans to move on. Greasing the networking skids with outside consultants certainly won't hurt when he pulls up stakes and leaves.

(Report Comment)

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