COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council unanimously approved plans Monday night for a new student apartment complex across from Grindstone Plaza.
The 552-bed, 9.6-acre complex will be known as Red Oak of Columbia. Tim Crockett, of Crockett Engineering, spoke on behalf of Red Oak Investment Co. at the council's Monday night meeting. The complex will be built across from Walmart and Kohl's on Grindstone Parkway. Although the nearby The Crossing church originally opposed the apartments, it now fully supports the project, Crockett said.
Red Oak Investment is currently negotiating new bus routes with the city that would serve students living there, Crockett said.
Mayor Bob McDavid said he agreed with the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation to approve the plan. However, McDavid said that without a city bus route, the new apartments won't be able to compete with similar complexes.
In March 2010, the apartment plan was denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission after concerns about increased traffic. The original debate centered on concerns that the implementation of a new stoplight and intersection would cause traffic problems. After discussion about whether the area would be better for commercial and residential uses, the council voted in May to approve the rezoning of the area from agricultural to commercial. In July, staff recommended approval of the plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission and it was approved unanimously, 9-0.
There is currently no known timetable on when construction will begin or when the apartments will be ready for occupancy.
Other business at the council meeting included:
- The council approved an amendment on the consent agenda to adjust City Manager Mike Matthes’ employment agreement. The agreement doubled Matthes' severance package to a full year's salary instead of six months. The severance package will only be given if Matthes resigns by mutual agreement with the council, not if he resigns voluntarily.
- A public hearing on the 2013 budget will be held Sept. 4. The council will vote on the new budget at its Sept. 17 meeting.
Mary Hussmann, a representative from Grass Roots Organizing, spoke before the council asking that the proposed fee increases in the budget not be supported because low-income citizens will not be able to afford them. Specifically, higher health fees lead to a less healthy community, she said. Hussmann also asked the council to vote against the proposed fee increases for sewage, water and electric rates.
Missourian reporters Kristen Herhold and Josephine Butler contributed to this report.
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