Elvin Sapp has made a final pitch to city officials regarding his plan for developing the Philips tract and is prepared to walk away from the project if the Columbia City Council fails to approve it, his representatives say.
“Either what is proposed ... is acceptable or it isn’t,” said Sapp attorney Dan Simon in a Thursday letter to City Attorney Fred Boeckmann. “It is time to vote this matter up or down.”
The letter, which was also sent to City Manager Ray Beck, Public Works Director Lowell Patterson and council members, outlines three remaining points upon which the city and the developer disagree. Those include the boundaries of a proposed transportation development district, limits on impervious surface on a tract that includes potential city parkland and the developer’s responsibility for roads or other infrastructure to which he has not already committed.
The council will hold a public hearing on the Philips proposal Monday night and is scheduled to reject or approve it on March 15. Simon warned at the last council meeting that Sapp would withdraw his annexation and zoning request if the council fails to approve it on that date.
Sapp spokesman Mark Farnen said his client has gone as far he can with the negotiations.
“This is our best response to all of the questions that have been asked,” Farnen said. “Together with the original filing, this reflects the final document. We have looked at every aspect of this from 50 points of view. This serves as the best workable document. It should be seen as complete and a remarkably good arrangement for the city.”
Sapp’s proposal for the 489-acre Philips tract, which asks the city to annex the land, rezone it for a mix of residential, commercial and office uses and acquire some of the property for a city park, has been the subject of debate for several months.
Simon said in his letter that the developer has “given everything that he finds he can give.”
As part of his proposal, Sapp has offered to pay half the cost for a new overpass at Gans Road and U.S. 63 and for relocation and improvement of Ponderosa Street, plus at least half the cost of relocating and reconstructing Gans Road. He has also agreed to chip in on the cost of resurfacing Bearfield Road.
Simon said in his letter that Sapp is doing more than his fair share.
“I also cannot help noting, in passing, that one of the very great problems with planned zoning has become the system whereby developers are treated like piñatas who are simply beat upon to see what goodies can be extracted from them as a condition to approval of their planned developmental plans,” Simon said.
Simon’s letter outlines Sapp’s responses to concerns expressed by city staff during a Monday work session with the council. Those responses are as follows:
Sapp agreed to restrictions on sign height and a ban on billboards on Tract 8, which lies along Ponderosa Street and near U.S. 63. Sapp wants open commercial zoning on the land, but has already agreed to restrict the types of uses that would be allowed.
- Sapp disagreed with a city proposal to exclude from a transportation development district the part of Ponderosa Street that lies north of what would become a relocated section of the street. City officials argue that the Ponderosa improvements they want to exclude from the transportation development district are part of normal development costs. Sapp, however, wants the entire street included in the district, where a special sales tax would be charged to reimburse him, the city and others for the expense of road projects associated with the development.
- Sapp agreed to pay 70 percent of the cost for converting Bristol Lake to a recreational lake and regional storm water basin. He had previously said he would pay only half that cost.
- Sapp disagreed with a city suggestion that he be allowed less impervious surface on Tract 4, given that part of the tract is now poised to become city parkland.
Sapp addressed concerns expressed by Mayor Darwin Hindman about an extension of Woodhaven Drive that, according to city plans, would run through proposed city parkland. Simon suggested in his letter that the road be eliminated and promised it would not be included in his client’s plans.
Sapp agreed with a suggestion from the city Public Works Department that he use a performance-based approach to ensure that storm water strategies protect Clear and Gans creeks. Some opponents of the development have called for some numeric criteria for monitoring water quality standards.
An amendment to Sapp’s original proposal will be before the council Monday night. The draft amendment reflects all of Sapp’s suggestions, but it remains to be seen whether it will win approval from the council.
Fourth Ward City Councilman Jim Loveless said the amendment represents work done by Simon, Sapp and city staff following the last council work session.
“From what I have seen of it, the staff and Mr. Simon responded in a positive manner to the concerns of the council,” Loveless said. “It seems equitable, and it reflects what concerns I had.”
The council’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday in its chambers on the fourth floor of the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.