COLUMBIA —The Missouri Soybean Association has received the go-ahead to construct a storage building at 5601 S. Rangeline Road despite concerns from neighbors that lights from the new building could be as distracting as existing lights on the property.
The Boone County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a revision to a permit granted in August 2011 that allowed the association to construct a laboratory and office building on the same 98.36-acre plot of land.
The lab houses soybean and seed development research, and the new facility will store farm machinery.
The association's current buildings have upset some neighbors, including John Glascock, the director of the city's Public Works Department.
"I live approximately 500 feet south of the building, and those two wall pack lights are very offensive," Glascock said at a public hearing Aug. 16. "I can read a book from my front porch."
So, as part of the revision that passed Tuesday, the lighting on the property must be directed inward and downward so it does not shine off the property.
Chris Sander is the project engineer for the soybean association.
"In speaking with the owner and contractor earlier in the week about the lighting complaint, as soon as this was brought to their attention, they ordered some shielding screens to put over the exterior lights to direct them downward," Sander said at the Aug. 16 meeting. He said the association expects to have the shields installed within a couple of weeks.
John Sweet, another neighbor, initially believed that one additional building would not have an impact on the area. He's changed his mind.
"We are getting a bait and switch," because the association is asking for an additional building that wasn't mentioned in the first meeting, Sweet said.
Sweet said he worries the additional building will also have intrusive lighting.
"I rue the day that I didn't come (to the first public meeting) because of what they have now, and I really don't believe that a shield is going to suffice," he said. "We can't sit on our front porch and enjoy the night sky because the lighting is so obnoxious."
Sander said the applicant feels the shields would solve the lighting problem, but if they do not, additional steps would be taken to change the lighting and replace the fixtures. At the meeting Tuesday evening, Sander said motion sensors were scheduled to be installed on the lights.
He said lights are anticipated on the new building, but they will probably be dusk-to-dawn lights.
A condition of the revision mandates that the lighting on the existing buildings must be fixed to the satisfaction of Boone County Resource Management before a building permit is issued for the new building.
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