A rezoning that would accommodate the largest development in Boone County history continues to spark debate among residents.
The Boone County Smart Growth Coalition and Clear Creek Neighborhood Association met Wednesday night to warn Columbia residents about problems they see in plans to develop the 489-acre Philips Farm in southeast Columbia. Developer Elvin Sapp has applied for a rezoning that would put a mix of residential and commercial development in the environmentally sensitive Clear and Gans creeks’ watersheds.
The coalition and the neighborhood association say the commercial development alone would be larger than the Columbia and Biscayne malls and the Crossroads West shopping center combined.
Both groups have fervently objected to the development plans since they were released this summer. They think the plans are too large for the area and that Sapp’s development would compromise storm water quality, pollute area creeks and generate too much traffic. Both groups have urged the city to study the area in detail before approving the project.
Those themes were repeated Wednesday night as members presented their objections to a crowd of about 25 concerned residents.
Association representative Joe Bindbeutel emphasized that the size of the project is just too big. He said Wednesday night’s meeting was a “plea to the city” to make sure it considers the scale of the development.
Barbara Hoppe, coalition co-chairperson, said Sapp’s plans don’t adequately address potential storm water run-off problems. She worries the run-off could pollute nearby Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
“It’s so big and huge and has so much potential for harming (the park),” she said.
Hoppe warned that before the city approves any development, it should make sure all the appropriate storm water studies are done. Normally those kinds of studies are done in advance of development proposals, she said.
“This development has gone backward,” she said.
Sapp’s representatives have said that based on their own storm water study, their development will not affect water quality in the area. The city hired an independent firm to review Sapp’s study and Sapp has in the last month made some changes to the plans based on the firm’s recommendations.
In addition to storm water concerns, some members of the neighborhood association are concerned about the expense of the project. Member Tony Davis said he wants to know just how much the development will cost Columbia in the long run.
Davis said the new interchange proposed to serve the Philips tract at U.S. 63 and Gans Road would bring far too much traffic to the area. In order to accommodate the development, Davis said, either the Missouri Department of Transportation or the city would have to spend up to $42 million on road improvements.
“We’re a long way from being able to afford this,” he said. “This is way over the top.”
Davis also called for the developer to find an example of when a project of this scale has been done successfully in a similarly sensitive watershed.
“Where is it?” he said. “We’d like to know where it’s at; we’d like to see it. To this point, we haven’t seen anything.”
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will take up the matter Dec. 18.