Columbia will soon have a new development on its west side.
The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday approved the rezoning of 40 acres in western Columbia, allowing builder Jack Dougherty to continue with his plan to build upscale duplexes.
The area, which is northeast of Scott Boulevard and just west of Silvey Street, was rezoned to allow six single-family homes or three duplexes to be built per acre.
The neighborhood will be called the Village Villas and will primarily be used by older couples, Dougherty said.
Dougherty has built similar neighborhoods in the past, including Country Club Villas near the Columbia Country Club.
“The people who primarily live in these houses are empty-nesters,” Dougherty said. “They like the security of sharing a wall with someone. If they go to Florida for a couple of months, they have someone to pick up their paper and watch after their house.”
Despite Dougherty’s experience in building, the commission had some concerns, primarily involving traffic flow and parking in the neighborhood.
The concerns included the width of the streets, which were planned at either 28 or 32 feet; the distance houses would be built from the property line, which was planned at either 18 or 20 feet; and a proposed T-shaped turnaround to be used instead of a cul-de-sac.
Dougherty said he preferred 28-foot-wide streets and an 18-foot setback from the property line because it would allow him more creativity in building the houses. He said the garage might not always be the part of a house closest to the curb, meaning that most driveways would be more than large enough to occupy cars.
“I don’t plan on shooting for 18 feet, I’m planning on 20, but if something happens where I’m off by a couple of inches, I’d like a little leeway,” Dougherty said.
Commissioner Karl Skala said that he encourages creative developing and that to do so, zoning rules need to be reviewed by the stakeholders group, which consists of planning and zoning, developers and others. The group meets once a month to review the rules of planned zoning ordinances and to give suggestions.
Skala said his only concern for Dougherty’s development was if a driveway’s length made cars parked in the driveway block part of the sidewalk.
Dougherty’s attorney, Daniel Simon, said that because every unit would be owned, not rented, the price of the duplexes would make it extremely unlikely that college students would live in the neighborhood. Because of this, Simon said large parties would not be an issue.
“We ask you to give some credibility to the history of the previous developments,” Simon said.
Dougherty said the T-shaped turnaround might be able to save one lot for another house, whereas a cul-de-sac would make it impossible to build on the lot.
Jay Gebhardt, an engineer with A Civil Group, supports the use of a T-shaped turnaround. He said emergency and maintenance vehicles can turn around more easily in a T than in a cul-de-sac.
The commission approved all the provisions, allowing the 28-foot-wide streets, 18-foot setbacks and T-shaped turnaround. The commission agreed that this type of development would not pose most of the problems typically associated with poor zoning.