Columbia City Council votes to eliminate EEZ Advisory Board

Monday, January 7, 2013 | 10:37 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted to eliminate the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board after hearing persistent concerns from residents. 

The council struck down the board in a packed council chamber Monday night, ending the city's effort at establishing an EEZ in Columbia.

Opponents of the EEZ, such as property owners, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, have long resisted attempts to designate portions of the city as blighted in order to qualify the zone for state tax abatements intended to stimulate economic development.

Columbia residents who opposed the EEZ worried about falling property values brought on by the blight designation.

At the meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Michael Trapp congratulated the opponents of the measure but lamented the loss of the EEZ as a policy tool.

"Good people can disagree about policy matters and what's the best thing to move forward," he said. "I hope that the folks who put so much energy in defeating this proposal will continue to work on specific policy and programmatic issues that don't take a lot of upfront costs."

Ward 6 Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said increasing employment should be a goal of the city, the council and Regional Economic Development Inc.

Mayor Bob McDavid was the last to comment before the vote.

"Each of us respects community consensus," he said. "It's sometimes hard to gauge community consensus. That's always a huge challenge for us, for me. Not that community consensus is always right, let's face it, 1963, the community consensus was segregation, so it's not always right, but when it is just, you have to respect it," McDavid said.

McDavid said it was clear the community's consensus was against the EEZ.

"That is why this is going to end tonight, but we are all committed to finding jobs for those who need them," he said.

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