Zoning issue irks county

Officials think the city will annex the land and bypass their rules.
Thursday, October 16, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:49 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boone County officials are frustrated with developments on the urban fringe, and a rezoning request before the county Planning and Zoning Commission tonight is highlighting the problem.

Prime Development Corp. plans to build 250 homes and 70 townhouses on the 200-acre property off Route WW near the El Chaparral and Concorde Estates subdivisions. Prime President Rob Smith said, 20 acres have been set aside for neighborhood commercial development, such as a dry cleaning business, a bank or a salon. An Elk’s Lodge is also planned for a 4-acre tract.

A possible annexation?

Dealing with the rezoning of property so close to Columbia’s city limits frustrates members of the Boone County Commission, who say the county often spends a lot of time on a project only to see the property annexed and the plans later changed by the city.

Smith said he’s befuddled by the politics surrounding his request. He noted that he has no option other than working with the county because the land is not contiguous with the city.

“We’re in the county; we couldn’t annex today,” Smith said. “We have to work with county services.”

Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said the Prime Development land will most likely be annexed, and she is frustrated that the city has eliminated conditions placed by the county on past developments. She cited the Thornbrook subdivision as an example of a project the county spent six months working on, only to watch the city annex the property and modify the plan to exclude a widening of Scott Boulevard that the county had required.

“People in the county don’t have a voice,” Miller said. “It’s not fair to citizens that live around the properties.”

Miller blames the problem on poor communication between the city and county. She added, however, that recent joint work sessions between the city and the county planning and zoning commissions are “wonderful.”

Sewer complications

Meanwhile, county planners have recommended the Prime Development proposal be either rejected or tabled because of a lack of plans for sewer service.

“There is concern with the sufficient resources test because they haven’t pinned down where they’re getting their sewer,” Thaddeus Yonke, a planner, said. “The sewer will be the controlling issue.”

There are two waste-water treatment sites in the area: one in El Chaparral and one in Concorde Estates. Neither, however, has the capacity to handle the 300 to 400 lots planned by Prime Development, and the developer would have to pay the entire cost of expanding a plant, Smith said.

Another option is to have the city extend its sewer lines. Smith said he has talked about that possibility with Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins.

While Watkins said there is a “strong policy” against extending sewer lines to areas outside the city limits, he also noted that the city and the Boone County Regional Sewer District are proposing a new sewer line extension up the south fork of Grindstone Creek. That project, which would eliminate a sewer lagoon serving El Chaparral, is part of a package of proposals that would be financed by bond issues on the Nov. 4 ballot.

In the past, the city has set up pre-annexation agreements in which it extends its sewer lines if property owners agree to be voluntarily annexed as soon as their land becomes contiguous with the city, Watkins said. This “might be an option for these folks, but it’s not an easy fix,” Watkins said.

Smith said he talked with the sewer district officials and will work with them once an option is selected.

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