Despite hearing from nine residents who opposed the plan, the Columbia City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday to develop a 23-acre tract of land at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Audubon Drive.
Councilman Brian Ash of Ward Six, where the tract is located, was highly in favor of the Stratford Chase development proposed by Rex and Patricia Waid.
“I feel that the arguments in favor of the plan outweigh the arguments against it,” Ash said. “I don’t want to see the community splinter. The community should be thankful it’s planned zoning and not open zoning.”
The proposal includes 50 residential units and office and commercial space, which could potentially house a restaurant and pharmacy among other businesses. The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the proposal in April.
“We want this project to be something we can be proud of,” Rex Waid told the council.
The Waids’ consultants and members of the Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association praised the Waids for their involvement in the plan development and commitment to maintaining the quality of the neighborhood.
The first time the Waids met with the Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association to discuss their project it was unanimously rejected, according to Daniel Jordan, chair of the association. A committee was formed to review and suggest changes to the plan, and at a second meeting 12 members of the association supported it, while six opposed it and six were neutral.
“The Waids made many changes to the original plans based on requests from city staff and the neighborhood committee,” said Dan Simon, a lawyer for the Waids.
Speakers opposed to the project were concerned with the increase in traffic, especially on Audubon Drive, that would result from the building of commercial space. Many of those opposed also brought letters from other neighbors expressing dissatisfaction with the project.
B.C. Jones, who lives on Azalea Street, emphasized that the Waids’ plan does not adhere to the ideals of the Metro 2020 plan, which recommends that neighborhood markets be centrally located in a residential zone. Jones expressed concern that current plans, which place commercial space at the corner of a busy highway intersection, make accessibility difficult for residents.
“The proposal is incredibly unpopular in the Shepard neighborhood,” said Jones, who brought a petition bearing 142 signatures in opposition of the project. “Stratford Chase does not have the configuration for what a neighborhood market is supposed to be according to the 2020 Metro plan.”
Erin Pearson, a 17-year resident of the neighborhood, also opposed the project.
“I am opposed because of the increase in traffic and a concern for the kids and elderly walking in the neighborhood,” she said.
— Blaine W. Duncan contributed to this story.