New development plans afoot

Friday, April 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Plans are in place for a three-phase development that will span nearly 1,000 acres and include about 2,000 homes, a championship golf course, a country club and a commercial area along Route WW, just east of Columbia.

The proposal from developer Billy Sapp has yet to be presented to either city or county officials, but many of its details have been unveiled at neighborhood meetings. The development should begin taking shape within two years, Sapp spokesman Don Stamper said Wednesday. Its proximity to the city and need for adequate sewer service make it a prime candidate for annexation by the city, Stamper said. Its size and scope also will require improvements to Route WW.

An 18-hole golf course planned for completion in spring 2006 will be the central feature of Sapp’s country club community. Sapp’s home, the former Eutsy Johnson estate, will become the clubhouse.

“This is a very well-planned development,” Stamper said. “It is very compact, and it’s a very good use of the land. We’re not overbuilding. ... There aren’t going to be any huge stores or malls, like on the Philips tract. We’re building good subdivisions, good homes and good neighborhoods.”

Sapp’s development actually comprises two adjacent tracts. The larger one is a 625-acre pasture north of Route WW that is dotted with small farm ponds. When the development is done in 10 to 12 years, it will feature about 1,000 homes, including single-family residences, condominiums, apartments and golf cottages.

The homes will be built in phases and surround the golf course. Stamper predicts the first houses will be ready no earlier than 2006.

The southwest corner of the tract will feature a small commercial district with a health club, dentists’ and doctors’ offices, a grocery store, a gas station and a convenience store.

The smaller development will take place on two tracts of 196 and 155 acres on the south side of Route WW. Sapp bought the 155-acre tract from Prime Development Co. on Thursday. These two tracts will be combined to form a subdivision of about 1,000 homes with sale prices starting at around $130,000. The first of them should be ready by late 2005, Stamper said.

“Those two properties really work together well,” Stamper said. “To get optimal use, it’s best if they are designed together and develop together.”

Sewer service could affect annexation

Stamper said the development would be a logical extension of Columbia’s boundaries. “It’s a definite possibility that this project will be annexed into the city,” he said. “We are building to meet, and even exceed, the city’s standards.”

Sewer service, however, is key both to the potential annexation and the pace of the development. City voters in November approved a bond issue that included money to extend a city sewer line along the South Fork of the Grindstone Creek and to replace a sewer lagoon serving El Chaparral.

The development also will undoubtedly require improvements to Route WW, a two-lane road that in some places lacks shoulders. The precise traffic impact of the development remains unknown, but a study arranged by Sapp is nearly finished.

“We have done car counts as recently as this week,” Stamper said. “Preliminary results for that study should be done in about 10 days.”

Stamper said improvements probably will include widening the road and adding shoulders, turn lanes and traffic lights.

“We don’t begin to zero in on the costs until the data from the traffic study is in,” Stamper said. “We know that a portion will be the developer’s, and portions will also come from the city, county and state.”

Meanwhile, plans for the 625-acre tract, which includes a wetland and is bisected by streams, have raised concerns among water-quality officials at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A March 4 application from Sapp for a land-disturbance permit brought questions from both agencies.

The Corps is concerned specifically about plans to widen a tributary of the South Fork of the Grindstone, about plans to excavate along stream banks and about the potential effect the development would have on wetlands in the area, spokesman Mitch Frazier said.

Stamper and architects took representatives on a walking tour of the site Thursday.

“A lot of things were clarified on both sides,” Stamper said. “Our folks will have to go back to the drawing board and change a few things, but that’s how this whole process works.”

Wetland acreage could be increased

Stamper said Sapp’s plans will actually improve some natural features of the property. “There is a half an acre of wetland out there now,” he said. “With 625 acres, we have more than ample space to mitigate or replace the effects of construction. Actually, with the golf course, we will be adding three or four acres of wetland.”

Stamper also cited a new technology for stream crossings “that will allow us to build roads over the top without disturbing the stream bed. ... We have a very environmentally friendly approach.”

The centerpiece of the development will be the 18-hole golf course, which will include a large practice facility and the clubhouse.

“This will be a very challenging course; the holes are very long,” Stamper said. “The course will be a membership facility, and all the lots with houses will be able to have special membership.”

Course courts MU golf teams

The golf course will be the first part of the project. “Ideally, we want to be moving dirt late this year, and hopefully the first round of golf will be played in early ’06,” Stamper said. “There will have to be some relocating and shaping of the land, but the lay of the land is already ideal for our project. There is not a better piece of land in Boone County.”

A major goal of the project is to attract the MU golf teams. Sapp took MU men’s and women’s golf coaches Tim Robyn and Stephanie Cooper on a tour of the land and of his home on April 16.

“It’s a really beautiful home,” Cooper said of the 1935 replica brick house with white columns. “Billy and his wife have remodeled it, and it looks beautiful. His vision is that would become the clubhouse. In the future, he’d continue to build on to it and make a banquet hall and a pro shop.”

Both coaches said they are excited about making the new course their teams’ home.

“There’s a big trend in college golf with universities building championship golf courses with large practice facilities,” she said. “It would be a really nice addition and give both the men’s and women’s programs a great boost.”

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