Planning Commission tables interim C-2 changes

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 11:05 p.m. CDT; updated 1:27 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 7, 2014
More changes might be in store for downtown Columbia. Members of the Columbia City Council are debating an interim amendment that would prohibit any homes or apartments on the first floors of buildings on parts of Ninth Street and Broadway.

** Correction: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Peter Yronwode's name.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to table interim amendments to the C-2 zoning ordinance until its May 22 meeting.

The Columbia City Council wants to add residential parking requirements and height limits to areas zoned C-2 — which encompasses most of downtown. The proposed changes would forbid residential space on ground floors facing the street on Broadway between Providence Road and Hitt Street, and Ninth Street between Elm and Walnut streets.

Existing buildings that don't conform to the new zoning rules would be grandfathered in, and the new parking requirement would only apply to new or expanded residential buildings.

The consensus among commissioners was that there wasn't enough time for public feedback since the council sent them the ordinance on March 18.

"I think this is rushed," Commissioner Doug Wheeler said. "I think this is seven people setting up their — some kind of Utopia, thinking they can dictate to the rest of the community and especially the property owners."

Numerous residents, including Dan Cullimore, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, and Becky Sterling, representing the Columbia Board of Realtors, asked the commission to table the ordinance so their organizations could review it more thoroughly.

Some commissioners wanted to vote against the ordinance and wait for a city-hired consultant to complete the 2-year overhaul of the entire city's zoning codes, which Community Development Director Tim Teddy said was four months in. 

But, on the other hand, voting against the ordinance outright might "shoot us in the foot," Commissioner Bill Tillotson said, because the council might pass the ordinance over their heads.

There were some residents present, like Peter Yronwode** and Downtown Leadership Commissioner Pat Fowler, who stressed the need for immediate changes to C-2. They were the minority of those who spoke at Thursday's meeting.

Walnut Street west of College Avenue has become a "concrete canyon," Ironwood said, thanks to the open-ended zoning requirements.

Columbia resident and lobbyist Don Stamper said the interim changes would restrict property rights, thereby opening the city to lawsuits. Wheeler agreed.

"If we change the C-2 zoning, I think we're opening ourselves up to a lawsuit for taking rights from these property owners," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the process of changing C-2 zoning should have begun about two years ago, when land on Walnut Street was rezoned C-2 to accommodate Brookside on College.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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Jack Hamm April 25, 2014 | 8:07 a.m.

"I think this is seven people setting up their — some kind of Utopia, thinking they can dictate to the rest of the community and especially the property owners."

Spot on.

This whole thing has just been an attempt by a small group to try and restrict the rights of others.

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