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City Council gives food trucks parking, expands outside alcohol hours

Monday, April 21, 2014 | 11:38 p.m. CDT; updated 6:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted Monday to grant food trucks designated parking spaces, expand the hours alcohol can be served outside and make utility information for rental properties available on the city's website.

Opus vs. petitioners

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Charles Rogers, a Minneapolis lawyer representing Opus Development Co., lambasted the petition to stop construction of a six-story, 256-bed apartment building on Locust Street between Seventh and Eighth streets.

Rogers said the petition appeared "on its face" to criticize the council for passing the agreement over the course of a week, but it didn't mention the two public hearings before the vote.

Those dates were key, he said, and some of the 3,600 signers didn't have all the facts.

He said if the city allowed a petition to repeal a nonlegislative act such as the developer's agreement, it would open the door for future petitions to do the same.

"The machinery of city government would grind to a halt," Rogers said.

Public access to utility use data

The council voted unanimously to post on the city's website electric and water use  data for rental properties.

The information had already been available from the city upon request, and data for users that don't rent are still available through Columbia Water and Light.

Mayor Bob McDavid made a motion to amend the bill to just rental properties. That motion passed 4-3.

Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp opposed the amendment, saying it was "protecting the illusion of privacy" because information for all parts of the city is public.

The city receives about 50 to 75 requests for utility use information each week between April and August, Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. He said the portal could help city staff work more efficiently by automating an administrative task.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said the portal would give landlords an incentive to make their properties more energy efficient to compete in the rental market.

"Prospective renters really need to find out what their energy cost is going to be," McDavid said.

"Affordable energy is the other half of the affordable housing equation," said Phil Steinhaus, director of Columbia Housing Authority.

Food trucks get designated parking spaces

The council passed an ordinance that grants food trucks eight metered spaces on the south side of Cherry and Locust streets and 10 spaces on the north side of Walnut Street.

Trucks would be allowed to serve food in a 21-hour serving period between 6 a.m. and 3 a.m. the following morning.

In order to use the allotted spaces, the vendors would have to cover the parking meter in each spot the truck uses with a bag. The daily fee for a bag is $10. There are monthly rates as well.

Longer hours for outside alcohol

The council approved a request from the Downtown Community Improvement District to expand the hours alcohol can be served and consumed outside.

Alcohol can now be served until midnight and consumed until 1 a.m., and it doesn't have to accompany food.

Grindstone Trail land approved

The council unanimously approved acquiring land for the first phase of Grindstone Trail construction.


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