More than 100 people filled the City Council chambers on Thursday night as the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission voted against a request to rezone 30 acres of land for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at Broadway and Fairview Road.
The commission voted 6-3 against recommending approval of the developers’ request to rezone about 30 acres of land for planned commercial development. Despite failing to win the commission’s recommendation, the developers’ request will go before the City Council at its Nov. 15 meeting.
“We know there is a good deal of emotion associated with our proposal,” said Craig Van Matre, attorney for the developers, before the vote. “We are apologetic for the stress that this will put on (the commission) and also on the City Council.”
The developers, including Stan Kroenke and Otto Maly, have said they will build a Wal-Mart regardless of whether the city approves their rezoning request. Seventeen acres of the property is zoned for commercial development. Rezoning the entire property would have allowed construction of a larger development including shops.
David Evans, president of the Park De Ville Neighborhood Association, spoke on behalf of several residents in opposition to the proposed rezoning.
“The biggest reason that we want to speak in opposition to it is that it overwhelms this piece of property, and thus it overwhelms our neighborhood,” Evans said.
The commissioners raised questions about the developers’ plans following a report from the city staff.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Commissioner Jeff Barrow, speaking about the developers request to rezone the entire property for commercial development with the promise that part of the property would later be changed for office development.
Barrow and other commissioners expressed concern that the design for the site submitted by the developers would not be binding enough. The commissioners also worried about traffic considerations, such as the impact of delivery trucks on residential streets.
During the public hearing, Van Matre presented traffic reports, site designs and other information to demonstrate the apparent advantages of a bigger, planned development.
“We have done everything that we can at this point in time, given our ability at this point in time in this process, to explain to you why we believe you have the choice between the good and the not so good,” Van Matre said.