New homes, new challenges

Neighbors fear that new dwellings on the city’s north side will result in more congested roads
Monday, September 15, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:59 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A small herd of cattle grazes in the pasture north of Brown School Road and a stone’s throw from a farmhouse that sits at the end of a winding driveway. Steep ditches, not shoulders, line either side of the gently sloping two-lane county road, and the stop sign atop the hill catches unsuspecting drivers off guard.

The oasis of country living, however, is now part of the city of Columbia, a target for the kind of growth that has transformed the northern fringes of the city over the past several years. At its Sept. 2 meeting, the Columbia City Council annexed and rezoned the 86-acre property, between Shalimar Gardens on the east and Crestwood Hills on the west. Owned by Forrest and Elizabeth Sappington, the land will be developed by PGS Development LLC. Plans call for as many as 150 single-family homes and 66 duplexes.

Residents of Crestwood Hills and the nearby Clearview subdivision aren’t happy about the plan, especially its potential impact on roads in their area. As it stands, Brown School Road is the only quick way to Range Line Street from their neighborhoods.

“Brown School Road and Range Line are not prepared to handle the increased density,” Crestwood Hills resident Juli Gerding said. The roads are particularly bad during bad weather, she said. Gerding recalled sitting in traffic last winter for three hours on an iced-over Range Line Street. She said Brown School Road is frequently flooded by heavy rain.

Even existing traffic on the streets is a “big problem,” Gerding said, “because no one wants to stop or drive the speed limit, and lots of families and children live around here.”

The 282 “dwelling units” proposed for the new subdivision will attract even more families to the north, where recent developments such as Vanderveen and Auburn Hills subdivisions have filled the rural gaps left by older developments such as Shalimar Gardens, Crestwood and Clearview. While residents worry about traffic, school officials also must keep an eye on the number of children moving into the area.

Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent for administration with the Columbia School District, said there will be plenty of room in the schools for children moving into the new subdivision. Those children, he said, most likely will attend Parkade Elementary School, Lange Middle School, Oakland Junior High School and Hickman High School.

Still, Cowherd said, development in northern Columbia thus far hasn’t taxed schools as much as expected.

“Last year, we had 10 kids from the other new Vanderveen subdivisions, and that was 10 children spread through K-12,” Cowherd said. “There will be room for more students.”

Bruce Beckett, attorney for PGS Development, could give no exact date for the start of construction but expects plat drawings “would be accomplished by the end of this year.”

The development will accommodate the city’s long-range plan for extending Providence Road to the north. As part of the annexation agreement, the developer has promised to provide right of way for and to build half of a two-lane section of Providence that, as further development occurs, will tie in with the existing Providence Road that ends just north of Vandiver Drive.

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