Almost 18 months since Bass Pro Shops announced it would build a new store in Columbia, the retailer’s development plan is headed to the city council for final approval.
At Thursday night’s public hearing the city planning and zoning commission decided on a 7-1 vote to recommend the plan to the council.
The storm water management plan for Bass Pro at Center State Crossings still needs to be finalized before the council can make its decision. Charles Bondra, senior planner for the Planning and Development Department, said the plan is close to being approved by the city Public Works Department.
Thursday’s discussion focused mainly on the amount of parking included in the plan. The required parking for the development is 433 spaces. Bass Pro is proposing 629 spaces, which the planning staff suggested was “excessive.”
Curtis McDonald from Center State Properties LCC told the commission that Bass Pro Shops “does not feel they have enough parking at 630 spaces.” He also said that if Bass Pro Shops “doesn’t get the parking, they don’t open the store.”
McDonald said Bass Pro used its store in Memphis to settle on an adequate number of spaces for the Columbia store. On the Memphis store’s 10 busiest days, it used an average of 755 parking spaces, he said. He also noted that about 100 spaces would be used by employees.
“The last thing we want to do is go in knowing we’re under-parked,” McDonald said.
Commissioner Jeff Barrow, who voted against the plan, was concerned that it calls for too much unnecessary impervious surface area, and that the parking lot would be shedding too much water.
Let there be light
The commissioners highlighted two major omissions from Bass Pro’s plan: free-standing signs and on-site lighting.
Commissioners Charlie Lamb and Barrow said they were disappointed with the way the plan had been handled and wished fewer last-minute changes would be needed.
Commissioner Karl Skala said he was looking forward to seeing the lighting plan and hoped the developers would “come with a bit more flexibility instead of a put-up or shut-up” attitude.
The approval of the project required the commission to recommend rezoning all of the approximately 27-acre site to be planned commercial. Planned commercial gives the city more control over development than general commercial zoning.
The proposed list of uses for the property includes a retail store, a gas station and a restaurant.
The commission also accepted a request for a variance that allows the development to have an 8-foot ped way on the east side of Lake Ridgeway Drive and no sidewalk on the other side.