In its boldest move since incorporation, Huntsdale’s Town Council has voted to triple the size of the riverside town by annexing 68 acres.
The three-to-one vote Monday added 68 acres of a new development to the town. The annexed area, adjacent to the Missouri River and the Katy Trail, includes a boat ramp, campsite and bait shop owned by Linda Lenau and Robert Brown, who have also expressed interest in developing an RV park near the trail.
Annexing the land into Huntsdale nullifies zoning restrictions the county government had imposed. The town has no ordinances that govern land use — or anything else.
Waiting for ordinances
Since February, when local government was reinstated after more than 70 years, the Town Council has focused on getting census information and generating revenue, not on developing city ordinances.
The property owners have given assurance to the Town Council that they will not build anything until city ordinances are in place, said council member Walter Mensch.
That assurance hasn’t satisfied Huntsdale Mayor Debby Lancaster, who said she won’t be comfortable until ordinances are in place.
“What scares me is, you can sit there and say ‘I promise,’ but anything (Brown) starts can be grandfathered in,” Lancaster said.
Lenau said that she and Brown, her husband, will be completing a few minor projects already in motion, such as enlarging the parking lot around the boat launch, but they will stick to the plan approved by the county, she said.
Lenau said it is appropriate in a historical and a moral sense for the recreation area to be a part of Huntsdale. The people of the town have always used the land to access the river, and she feels the town should have a say in what happens on the land.
What the residents are saying
Residents are excited about the growth of their town, but have mixed feelings on how the development will change Huntsdale.
Patty Orscheln, who owns Katy’s Little Lodge, located a quarter mile from the bait shop, said she feels the continued development of the Lenau and Brown property will be good for people on the Katy Trail.
Residents of the Terrapin Hills subdivision have been the most vocal opponents to the development of the campground and bait shop. The subdivision sits atop a bluff overlooking the area and also was developed by Lenau and Brown.
Columbia attorney Stan Clay, who lives in Terrapin Hills, said residents are concerned about noise and light pollution as well as large groups having parties in the campsite. If the shop is permitted to sell alcohol, it could also lead to unsafe roads and the attraction of undesirable people, he said.
Ken Whithaus, who lives a block away from the bait shop, said he sees downfalls and benefits. It’s good that tax revenues could increase and the town might be able to buy a park, he said.
Lenau also noted that a major benefit to the town could be tax revenue. The town could levy a sales tax, which Lenau would not oppose.
That small-town feel
But, if the recreation area draws more people to the area, the price of land in the town might go up, Whithaus said.
“It’s a small town, let’s keep it that way,” he said.