After slogging through a slew of obstacles, Prime Development gained approval Tuesday to start platting development in eastern Boone County.
The Boone County Commission approved the company’s request to rezone about 47 acres of a 200-acre plot at 4750 E. Route WW. The area will be zoned as planned commercial and planned residential areas instead of single-family residential areas.
“I’m happy, I’m pleased,” Prime Development President Robert Smith said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had rejected the rezoning, which the Boone County Commission tabled twice because of concerns of residents in nearby neighborhoods.
Two subdivisions, El Chaparral and Concorde Estates, are in or near the development area. Residents’ concerns included sewage treatment, traffic, development size and water runoff.
“It’s a difficult thing,” Smith said. “Frankly, a lot of their concerns are mine as well. We just have to try to mitigate those.”
The company has been working for about six months to rezone the Southfork Grindstone Development.
After a public forum on the plan, commissioners voted 3-0 to approve it.
“I do agree that they had their minds made up before they got here,” said Lawrence Luck, an El Chaparral resident. “The sad part is that WW won’t be upgraded until down the road, and lots more young people are going to die.”
Several residents spoke at the forum about the dangers of the winding Route WW.
Charles Wiebe, who lives in El Chaparral, said a close friend recently died on the road. He expressed concern that more residences would bring more cars.
“Every car that gets added to that road, every piece of traffic added to that road makes it more dangerous,” Wiebe said. “When I think of my friend, I think it could have been my wife or my son. It’s my role as a husband and father to do everything I can to protect my family.”
Although most residents who spoke were against the development plan, some said they thought the developers would plan to alleviate water runoff in their back yards.
“Mr. Smith seems to be willing to work with us,” said Robert Logan, who lives in El Chaparral and has problems with stormwater drainage. “If plans come out as they’re proposed at this point, I think they’re quite reasonable.”
Prime Development plans to address residents’ concerns by dealing with water runoff and would like to see a stoplight or a right-turn lane added to WW, said spokesman Chad Sayre, a consulting engineer at Allstate Consultants. He noted, though, that the water runoff problem will be challenging because much of it comes from areas other than the acres scheduled for development.
First District Commissioner Karen Miller said she approves of Prime Development’s plan because it involves development of duplexes and commercial buildings.
“I think having neighborhood commercial areas, neighborhood offices and mixed housing is one of the most practical ways to build a community,” Miller said. “I think what you’ve proposed today is about building community.”
A building limit of 355 units in the area was another element commissioners appreciated. Second District Commissioner Skip Elkin noted that the area could hold as many as 800 units and that residents of the area were lucky the developers were accommodating.
“We all know development is happening,” Elkin said. “It’s happening in the state, it’s happening all over the nation. This area is not going to be the same.”
Although the commission determined that the rezoning would be appropriate for the area, it gave Prime Development stipulations.
The company must work with Boone County Regional Sewer District to ensure proper waste removal.
Prime Development must study traffic and make recommendations based on the results. Development is limited to 355 units, and no road can connect to El Chaparral until the development is complete. Streets altered or built must meet county requirements. Finally, the company must construct approved stormwater drains before roads are developed.
Smith next must create plats for the development and present those to the county for approval. He hopes to do that in February.
Elkin said that residents would have a voice throughout the development process, unless the city annexes the property.
“We can set conditions and control measures,” he said. “If the property is annexed to the city of Columbia, guess how much voice you’ll have? Zero. You will have a voice right here.”