Plans to develop the controversial Philips tract continued to move through city bureaucracy, as the Columbia City Council heard public comment Tuesday night on a request to add the 489 acres to the city.
Developer Elvin Sapp wants to annex the property southeast of the city and rezone it for a mix of homes, businesses and office buildings. Annexation would allow the buildings on the property to use city sewers, water, police protection and other services. Taxes generated by development would also go to the city. If approved in its current form, the development would be the largest in Boone County history.
“The question (for the council) remains, ‘Do you want this development built to city standards with city rules and oversight?’ ” Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Loveless said before the meeting. “That’s what citizens should ask themselves, too.”
Loveless emphasized the land will more than likely be developed whether it becomes part of Columbia. The city is in a better financial position to regulate the large-scale project, he said.
Some neighbors who have fervently opposed the development since it was proposed last summer also addressed the council Tuesday. They worry the development might generate too much traffic and pollute the sensitive Gans Creek and Clear Creek and Little Bonne Femme watersheds.
Tony Davis, of the Clear Creek Neighborhood Association, urged the council to complete a watershed study to predict the environmental impact before annexing the property. Davis conceded that he is convinced the Philips farm inevitably will be annexed and developed.
“We’re not here to lie in the road and stand in the way of development,” he said after the meeting. “We’re just here to raise significant questions.”
Davis said a development the size of the Philips tract should become part of the city so it can be built to city standards for buildings, roads and utilities.
During the public hearing, Sapp’s attorney Dan Simon emphasized that the request for annexation depends on whether the city also approves the rezoning.
“If the zoning isn’t granted, the property will not be annexed,” he said, adding that the two must occur simultaneously.
The council will hold a public hearing on the rezoning of the Philips property Feb. 2. It will vote on both the annexation and rezoning requests Feb. 16.