A more efficient means of ensuring the expansion and growth of Columbia could be in the future.
Columbia’s expanding city limits and the subsequent challenges faced by the Columbia City Council and the Boone County Commission were the topics of discussion at a joint work session Monday night.
While the city and county have discussed growth plans before, nothing ever came from the meetings, said Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin. He added that he thinks this time the city and county will create concrete solutions.
“I think we’re at that point. Our community is growing so much, and a lot of issues are coming to a head,” Elkin said. “We need to really roll up our sleeves and get some real planning done.”
City and county officials will draw up a resolution in the near future to give city staff the direction to start smoothing out some of the problems.
The main concern for the city is making sure it can continue to grow without becoming landlocked. The city finds that with present annexation laws, if development occurs outside the city without an annexation agreement, it won’t ever annex, Mayor Darwin Hindman said at the meeting.
“If we could get development to occur right around the city and preserve the countryside, that would be a dream plan come true,” Hindman said. The city would like to include in the plan some method to ensure the city would not get blocked.
Items of concern
The city policy of accepting voluntary annexation by property owners was one item of concern for the commission. The policy creates problems because the annexation only covers half of the road next to any annexed property. This creates a situation in which one half of the road is under city jurisdiction while the other half is under the county. Sometimes roads have even had different speed limits on either side.
Patrolling, cleaning snow and fixing potholes on these roads are other simple issues that are up in the air, Elkin said.
Boone County Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre and Elkin made a point to emphasize they were not against annexation.
“We just want it to be orderly,” Elkin said. “We want it to be compact.”
Another topic to be evaluated is the city policy regarding sewer service. County developments must agree to be annexed into the city to receive city sewer service.
The council and commission also discussed the possibility of developing a process in which the two would work together to make zoning decisions on property close to the city’s border.
Elkin said there needs to be more communication between the county and city during such planning stages.
The Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission sends plans to the city for any county development within one mile of its borders, so that the city can know what is going on outside its borders, Elkin said.
“We would like to be extended that same courtesy,” he said.
City Manager Ray Beck said the county should have been receiving the city’s plans and he would find out why that hasn’t been happening.
Elkin said he was satisfied with the discussions at the meeting.
“I think we all want the same thing.” Elkin said. “Hopefully this will be the official starting block.”