Grindstone tax district would fund road works

Thursday, December 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:54 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Three companies filed a petition in Boone County Circuit Court to form a transportation development district along Grindstone Parkway.

The development would charge extra sales tax to pay for road projects intended to accommodate a new Wal-Mart and other development in the area. It is the fifth taxing district to be either formed or proposed within Columbia.

Following state statutes for the creation of the taxing districts, THF Grindstone Plaza Development, Red Oak Investment Co. and Red Oak Development filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the city of Columbia.

According to court documents, the three companies plan to levy a half-cent tax on all sales at businesses within the district. The tax would be in place for up to 20 years, but could be extended if necessary to pay for the planned road projects.

The developers plan to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter as the centerpiece of a larger project to be known as Grindstone Plaza. The Columbia City Council earlier this year approved rezoning for the project, but the developers still lack approval of their site plan from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The DNR said in a news release Wednesday that it will hold a public hearing Dec. 13 at the Boone County Government Center.

Proceeds from the district’s sales tax would be used to pay for numerous road projects leading to and surrounding the development, including an extension of Green Meadows Road, the addition of street lights, turn lanes and traffic signals to the plaza drive’s intersection with Green Meadows and the creation of water drainage structures to avoid environmental damage to the surrounding area. A bus stop and construction of Gray Oak and Red Oak drives are also part of the proposal.

Brian Ash, Sixth Ward representative to the Columbia City Council, said the petition was not unexpected.

“We assumed that they would create a tax development district to help pay for the extension of Green Meadows,” Ash said.

Ash said he generally favors transportation development districts because people who shop within them pay for the necessary road improvements.

Ash added that public money isn’t enough to pay for all the city’s street needs. “Using private dollars and these tax development districts, that’s just frankly the only way I see some of these major road projects being built,” he said.

Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said he hasn’t read the petition but will look over it to get a better grasp of the proposal.

“We are reviewing the filing, and we’ve not had a chance to craft a suggested response to city council yet,” said Watkins. “But we’re working on it.”

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