Council approves final plat for Parkside Estates near Rock Bridge State Park

Monday, June 16, 2014 | 10:54 p.m. CDT; updated 10:08 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 17, 2014

COLUMBIA — Parkside Estates will continue to develop the 33 acres north of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park after receiving approval of its final plat from the Columbia City Council.

The council voted 4-2 Monday night to approve the development's revised final plat. Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala voted against the plat. Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas was absent. Plats are documents that detail the layout of a subdivision, such as where lot boundaries, streets and utilities will be located.

The council at its April 21 meeting voted 3-4 to reject a previous plat. Council members cited worries about the effects that stormwater runoff from the residential development would have on streams and trails in the nearby park as a reason for their rejection of the plat.

On April 21, City Counselor Nancy Thompson said that rejecting the plat was unsafe and made the city vulnerable to legal action because the council generally is obligated to approve final plats when the developer has complied with zoning rules and any other conditions imposed by the council.

The development, located east of Route K, is intended to include 49 single-family homes. The development plan is designed to meet council concerns over the site's storm water drainage, impervious surfaces and foliage. 

Unclear distinctions between pervious and impervious surfaces was a key reason for the council's rejection of the plat in April. At Monday's council meeting, Community Development Director Tim Teddy said the two terms had been defined in an amendment to the plat. Impervious surfaces are defined in the plat as surfaces that prevent the infiltration of stormwater.

He also explained a system of calculating the running total of impervious surfaces used to comply with the required 15 percent ratio. Roads were taken out of the total amount first. The remaining amount was then divided among the slots, giving each lot either 2,400 square feet or 3,115 square feet of  impervious surfaces. Homeowners will have to comply with this amount to build driveways, patios, roofs and walkways. If they are in need of extra surface space, they will have to acquire the amount from a neighbor.

The development plan includes:

  • A 200-foot stream buffer, expanded from 100 feet required by ordinance.
  • A 75-foot park buffer.
  • No direct driveway access to Route K.
  • A tree preservation plan, requiring at least four trees on each lot and planting of native plants.
  • A common lot for stormwater drainage and utility easements.  
  • A maximum allowance of 15 percent impervious surface cover, such as brick, concrete or rooftops, which stop water from draining into the ground below.
  • Providing residences with two rain barrels per lot. 
  • Allowing the use of only organic lawn care products. 
  • Holding an annual seminar on best lawn care and landscaping practices. 

Area residents worry about the development's appearance, drainage into the park's streams and threats to the karst topography of the area. Karst features include caves, sinkholes and losing streams.

Southside Trail Estates, the developer of Parkside Estates, was cited April 18 by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for water pollution that resulted from site work on the property.

Two residents, Ken Midkiff and Sandy McCann, and the Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park group filed a lawsuit on June 6 against the city, the developer and a contractor, Emery Sapp & Sons, in an attempt to block the project.

The suit cites an invalid ordinance, passed in September, that granted the land disturbance permit for the development. The ordinance contained five subjects — annexing the land, zoning the land, approving a preliminary plat, granting sidewalk variances and imposing stormwater controls. The lawsuit argues that the ordinance violates state law that requires ordinances to contain only one subject. 

Thompson advised that the pending litigation did not impede the council's ability to vote on the plat. The council was also past the 45 days allowed — preventing them from tabling the issue.  

Several members of the community spoke against the development at Monday's meeting, including Kevin Roberson, president of the Friends of Rock Bridge group. He said the group was forced to enter the lawsuit because what they feared would happen to the park as a result of the development. Hoppe also read an e-mail from Jan Weaver, treasurer of the group and MU professor of environmental science, who made comments about losing a generation of animals and plants because of runoff into the stream. 

The zoning allows for 69 homes to be built. Additional plats could be proposed at a later date to further build on the land. 

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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