As long as the developer is able to address concerns about traffic and storm water runoff, Columbia’s planning department has recommended approving nearly all the plans for the 489-acre Philips farm in southeast Columbia.
Developer Elvin Sapp wants to put a mix of commercial, office and residential development on the land inside the environmentally sensitive Gans and Clear Creek and Little Bonne Femme watersheds. If approved in its current form, the development would be the largest in Boone County history.
In an agenda report issued to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week, planning staff said they recommended the commission rezone eight of the nine tracts as outlined in Sapp’s plan, as long as the developer is able to meet a number of conditions.
The report recommends against the rezoning of Tract 8, a 221/2-acre piece of land along the west side of Highway 63. Unlike the other commercial tracts that are C-P, or “planned,” this piece of land is C-3, or “open.”
The city staff recommended against C-3 zoning because it doesn’t restrict the height or number of signs that could be built or restrict what kinds of businesses could be placed on the property. Columbia Planning Director Roy Dudark said it would permit automobile repair shops or farm machinery shops that might not mix well with the other land uses.
At a Planning and Zoning work session Tuesday, Sapp and his representatives refused to comment on whether they’re willing to rescind the request for C-3 zoning.
Other conditions outlined in the report ask that Sapp:
n Conduct a detailed storm water study of each of the nine tracts. The studies would be reviewed by the Department of Public Works.
Another issue discussed Tuesday was a proposed interchange at Highway 63 and Gans Road. Sapp’s plan contains a study of the potential interchange.
Dudark said the Missouri Department of Transportation has given a “conceptual” endorsement of that interchange, but it’s unclear how much it would cost or how it would be paid for.
Sapp has offered to fund up to half of the interchange through a transportation development district, which would place a special tax on retail sales within the development. Many neighbors fear that the new interchange is only part of the potential road costs.
Tony Davis, of the Clear Creek Neighborhood Association, said he thinks the road improvements necessary to accommodate Sapp’s plan could cost up to $42 million.
Sapp said Tuesday he’s still optimistic that his plan is sound and will be approved.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to have a public hearing on the matter Thursday. Chairman Jerry Wade said the commission will allow presentations from the developer and those who oppose the plan.