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.