COLUMBIA — After the City Council decided to table a rezoning request that would permit a Break Time convenience store on scenic Rock Quarry Road, about half of Monday's audience in a nearly full council chambers rose to leave.
Mayor Bob McDavid called it "a matter of fairness" for the council vote to be postponed to allow Rock Quarry residents another opportunity to present a valid petition.
"We don't want this (rezoning issue) decided on a technicality," McDavid said.
A valid petition would require developers to achieve a super-majority council vote — five members in favor instead of four — to pass a rezoning request by 8 Ball Commercial Properties and MFA Oil.
The developers hope to build a 24-hour Break Time gas station to serve a nearby student population.
The city validated the petition several days ago but then withdrew that approval Monday afternoon after learning of an "old" 1960 court decision, Development Director Tim Teddy said.
"We were using logic," Teddy said, but an obscure court decision requires the city to include road space in its calculation for a valid petition.
A valid petition requires signatures from neighbors who collectively own at least 30 percent of the property within a 185-foot radius of a proposed rezoning.
The Rock Quarry petitioners represented 36.7 percent of the surrounding land, excluding roadways. By adding roads, though, their representation dropped to about 20 percent, Teddy said.
The residents can file a valid petition even when road area is included in the calculation, Teddy said. The residents should talk to The Crossing, a neighboring church, and residents of a mobile home subdivision across Rock Quarry Road, he said.
The Crossing has said it would sign the petition if needed, said Jan Pritchard, who has lived on Rock Quarry Road for about 20 years.
Located to the west of the disputed land, The Crossing owns a significant portion of property within the legal 185-foot radius.
"We basically have a week and a half," Pritchard said, "We should be able to get it done" in time for the the council meeting on Oct. 15, when the council again will take up the rezoning issue.
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