The Columbia City Council will have its final vote Monday on Elvin Sapp’s proposal to develop the 489-acre Philips farm just southeast of the city limits. Sapp wants to annex and zone the land to allow for more than 750 homes and a mix of office buildings and shops, which, if built according to current plans, would be one of the largest developments in Boone County history.
Sapp’s spokespeople have repeatedly said he will pull the project if the council doesn’t approve it Monday.
City wants firm water-quality plans
Before the council can vote on the proposal, however, the city staff wants to make sure Sapp’s water-quality plans are water-tight.
In an amendment prepared Thursday, the staff says Sapp would monitor the storm-water runoff from his development both during and after construction. He would also test discharge from the 40-acre Bristol Lake to ensure it’s not damaging the Gans and Clear creeks. That lake will be used as both a storm-water basin and for recreation if the city decides to enter into a deal with Sapp for a new 500-acre regional park.
City manager Ray Beck said Friday that the changes were made, in part, to satisfy concerns that both council members and opponents raised at the last meeting.
Sapp hopes ammendments will assure Columbia residents
Sapp spokesman Mark Farnen said he hopes the amendments will be specific enough to assure Columbia residents that Sapp’s project will not compromise the local, environmentally sensitive watersheds. Most of the opponents, who have fervently objected to the project since it was proposed nearly a year ago, have repeatedly asked for more information about storm-water management.
“We’ve made the same promises throughout and people are just wanting different levels of detail at this point,” Farnen said.
But those details might not be enough. Johann Holt of the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club said Saturday the amendment is still too vague.
“It’s a step forward,” he said. “But, it’s pretty-sounding words that don’t really say very much.”
Holt added that the scrutiny Sapp’s plan has faced is evidence Columbia needs better development laws.
“We need a watershed-wide plan so we don’t have to go through this every time,” he said.
Sierra Club campaigns against the development
Meanwhile, Holt and his organization are on the march against Sapp’s development. On Saturday, Sierra Club representatives trekked door to door around Columbia distributing fliers that urge opponents to attend Monday’s council meeting. Additional fliers were distributed a week ago.
Farnen said the Sierra Club has taken its opposition too far and is disseminating false information, specifically the flier’s claim that Sapp is proposing a “Philips mall.”
“It’s overwritten and it’s not true,” he said.
Farnen emphasized that Sapp isn’t required to include all the details of his storm-water plans this early in the game.
“In this process, you’re not supposed to have to turn (storm-water plans) in until you do your development plan,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people that want their cake, and they want to eat it, too, and right now they’re having dessert,” Farnen said.
p>Both sides will have one final chance to face each other at Monday’s public hearing, the fourth on the project since January.