In the not-so-far-away countryside, about 30 homes cluster together in small strings along State Highway 163 and Route N, nestled against the backdrop of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Where the two highways cross sits the Pierpont store, a relic of earlier times.
Driving south along Providence Road from Columbia, you might notice a road sign that points to Pierpont. Officially, however, Pierpont does not exist. It’s an unincorporated part of Boone County, subject to county laws and regulations.
Most of the people who live there are trying to change that.
The Boone County Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss Pierpont’s pending request for incorporation. State law says that an area may incorporate if two thirds of its residents submit a petition with the boundaries of the proposed village or town, which cannot lie within two miles of an existing municipality, and the county commission rules the request “reasonable.”
The residents seeking to form their own village say they just don’t want to live in Columbia, and incorporating Pierpont as a village would protect it from annexation.
Andrea Reddick, a stay-at-home mom, said she and her husband, Ryan Reddick, enjoy their rural setting. They don’t want the taxes, the development or the traffic that they believe would be inevitable if they became part of Columbia. They just want to keep things the way they are.
The couple was looking for something slightly removed from the city in 1996 when they found Pierpont.
“I’d never even heard of Pierpont,” Reddick said. “We just wanted a house outside the city limits and a little bit of land.”
Another Pierpont petitioner John M. Nowell III said he left Columbia so he could pursue a car collecting hobby — without worrying about city ordinances regulating how he stores his cars. Nowell came to Pierpont in 1986 after he says the city threatened to confiscate his cars if they weren’t moved from his yard or stored in a shed.
“That’s why people move out in the country: to get away from all the regulations of a municipality,” Nowell said. “My neighbors have horses; they couldn’t have horses in the city of Columbia.”
He also worries that if Columbia were to annex Pierpont, he’d see an increase in taxes and utility fees.
“I like Columbia,” Nowell said. “My family has lived in Boone County since 1850 and I don’t have any plans to move, but I moved here for a reason.”
The formal process to form a village dates to April, when residents submitted a petition with 46 signatures — well above the two-thirds requirement — to incorporate.
The petition was forwarded to the county counselor, John Patton, who reviewed the request, along with the state statutes that govern incorporation, and advised the county commission of its options.
“Pierpont seems to meet all the requirements,” County Commissioner Karen Miller said. “The commission has latitude when hearing from the residents that did not sign and surrounding landowners.” She has asked some residents of the proposed village to provide any historical data that might prove Pierpont has been a community for several years.
She is concerned, however, about the precedent that Pierpont’s incorporation might set.
“It does not lend itself to good planning to have small communities pop up in the middle of a growth area,” Miller said. “Pierpont is surrounded by the Rock Bridge Park on three sides, which is a natural buffer.”
According to Patton, commissioners have some leeway to approve or deny incorporation based on whether they find the request “reasonable.” He said case law interpretations of “reasonable” have come to mean that the area doesn’t include too much agricultural land and that there is some historical precedent of an existing community there.
Commissioners will decide on Tuesday whether to move the incorporation request to their next meeting agenda, Miller said. In that case, they could vote later this summer on whether to form a village.