An independent consultant will evaluate stormwater management plans included in the proposal for developing the Philips tract.
In a 6-0 vote Tuesday night, with an abstention from Fifth Ward Councilman John John, the Columbia City Council decided to allow city staff to select a firm to do the review. John abstained because he is the Realtor representing the potential developer, Elvin Sapp.
Before the vote, council members expressed concern that an independent review of the development would lead some to question why the council doesn’t hire independent consultants for every project.
“It’s setting a precedent for every big thing that comes before us,” Sixth Ward Councilman Brian Ash said.
Sapp wants to create a mix of residential and business uses on the 489-acre farm just south of Columbia after having the land rezoned and annexed by the city. Because of the large scale of the proposed development, the council felt an outside assessment was warranted.
Hoisting a large binder of plans onto the council’s lectern, Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Loveless said he felt the stormwater issue deserved special attention from the city.
“I must admit (this) is pretty complex,” he said. “I think this is a fine time to step back and say I need someone with more expertise and more time to look at this and tell us ‘Is this good? Will this work?’ ”
Sapp has already submitted a stormwater study by Denver-based engineering consultant Jonathan Jones, who predicted development on the site might actually improve water quality in the area.
Neighbors and members of the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition, however, worry that runoff from the development might pollute nearby Gans and Clear creeks, which are part of the sensitive Little Bonne Femme watershed.
The Smart Growth Coalition had asked the council to consider hiring an outside consultant to study the plan.
City staff will choose the consultant from a list of candidates already deemed qualified. The firm will be paid between $5,000 and $15,000 from the city’s stormwater utility fund, according to a report from city staff.
The council had the option of assembling a committee of city officials and representatives of the developer and the Little Bonne Femme Watershed District to choose nominees for the consultant job, but decided the process would take too long.
“The real advantage (of the pre-qualified list) is the fact we can respond quickly to the situation,” said Public Works Director Lowell Patterson.
Missourian reporter Jenn Day contributed to this report.