Editor's note: The caption on the photo above has been revised to reflect that it was provided to the Missourian by Ken Midkiff and to offer details on when and where it was reportedly taken.
COLUMBIA — A lawsuit seeking to block further work on Parkside Estates, a residential subdivision immediately north of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, names not only the city, but also the developer and a contractor working on the project.
The lawsuit was filed Friday by the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center of St. Louis on behalf of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and Columbia residents Ken Midkiff and Sandy McCann. They believe that the continued development is adversely affecting the water quality in the park's streams and that it could pose a threat to wildlife in the area.
The lawsuit alleges:
- That the city ordinance annexing and zoning the land was unconstitutional because it contained multiple topics.
- That the city inappropriately issued a land disturbance permit for the development because the land was never legally annexed.
- That a contractor, Emery Sapp & Sons, and the developer, Southside Trail Estates, have failed to comply with plans designed to protect the park and its streams.
McCann, who has lived on the park's border since 1999, said neither she nor the homeowner's association was notified that the land had been bought or would be developed. She also said that she was told there would not be any drilling or rock work done on the land.
"How would you get a permit for blasting and drilling in a karst area?" she said. "I don't know."
McCann said she is concerned with preserving the park.
"The blasting and broken rock can't be fixed," she said. "I'm really worried that my grandkids won't be able to enjoy what I've enjoyed."
Jan Weaver, treasurer of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, said she hopes to prevent further damage to the stream by getting an injunction against the development.
At the location now, mud is running downhill from the development site, coating rocks and filling a nearby stream with mud. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued the developer a notice of violation in April because of water pollution.
Weaver said the threat to the park's streams could continue well after the development ends because of runoff from streets, sidewalks, driveways and rooftops in the neighborhood.
"It is hard for streams to recover from the repeated insult of development," she said. "If (the development is) stopped, over time moss will be able to grow again and little insects can live in the pools again."
McCann also said she had concerns that more houses could rob the area of the open and spacious feeling that protects the state park and wildlife.
"It's very dark here," she said. "The animals roam freely. The stars are beautiful. They are forever changing that with lights."
McCann said she is not against developing the land, but she wants it to be respectful of the park in regard to regulations like the size of the development and the amount of impervious cover.
In allowing the construction of Parkside Estates, the Columbia City Council mandated that the 36-acre lot have less than 15 percent covered with impervious surfaces, such as concrete or brick, according to previous Missourian reporting. Developers also were required to follow best-management practices regarding stormwater controls.
The proposal for the final platting for the development was rejected by the council at its April 21 meeting with a 3-4 vote.
"I don't know if the city's regulations aren't adequate or if the development didn't follow them, but something has to change for the development to continue," Weaver said.
Tim Crockett, the engineer of the development, and Daniel Simon, the development company's attorney, did not respond to calls for comment Tuesday.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.