The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approval to a commercial zoning request for two adjacent tracts of land on the south side of East Walnut Street despite objection from city planners.
The commission members voted four against three Thursday to recommend the rezoning request to the Columbia City Council. If the council approves, the land would be rezoned from R-3, which allows for a multi-family dwelling, to C-2, which allows a central business district, The council will decide on the matter on Nov. 3.
The property, owned by Newton Riley, includes a former Stephens College dormitory that is used as an apartment space and two houses.
"We were a little bit surprised," said Roy Dudark the city director of planning. He said the property is not appropriate for C-2 zoning and the city should have more control over the development.
A report from city planners, which was released last week, recommends the commission deny the request and says that part of downtown does not have a commercial feel and still reflects the atmosphere of the Stephens College Campus.
C-2 zoning permits a wide range of commercial facilities from bakeries and arcades to hotels, service stations and parking garages. Riley declined to comment on his request Friday.
John Clark, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, said he was also surprised by the commission's approval. Clark said C-2 zoning does not require designated parking, which could cause problems in the area.
Commission members Neil Cady, Charles Lamb, Pat Daugherty and Michael Holden voted in favor of the request. Jerry Wade, Karl Skala and Jeffrey Barrow voted against it. Michael Perkins and Cyndy Jones were not present at the hearing.