City supports plan for joint meetings

Cooperation between the city and county governments would impact development.
Friday, December 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:21 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

City leaders support developer Billy Sapp’s proposal for joint zoning meetings between the city and Boone County. The meetings would concern Sapp’s proposed 1,000-acre development in the Harg community, east of Columbia near the city limits.

At a Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Thursday night, Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said both Mayor Darwin Hindman and City Manager Ray Beck support the collaborative effort.

Under the plan, joint meetings would be held between the Columbia City Council and the Boone County Commission as well as between the city and county planning and zoning commissions.

Hindman and Beck were both out of town for a conference Thursday night and could not be reached for comment.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre and Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller have also expressed support for the proposal, which originated in a letter from Sapp to city and county officials.

To take place, the process must be approved by the County Commission and City Council.

Even so, such widespread support for this process could have lasting implications on how Boone County and Columbia work together on growth issues.

Miller said such cooperation is a good precedent for projects on the city limits.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing to have on big projects,” Miller said.

Sapp’s development, which includes a country club and golf course that may be used by the MU golf team, is a 1,000-acre plot that will also contain homes, apartments, condominiums and shops.

Watkins also said cooperation for large border projects would be beneficial.

“I don’t think this is the model for every little two-acre tract we do, but for larger tracts, this makes sense,” Watkins said.

A possible roadblock to such cooperation, however, is differences in how the city and county do planning and zoning. For example, the county requires developers to submit a specific plan of a development, but the city does not. There are also different zoning designations used by the city and county.

Combined with legal restrictions, these differences mean the city and county governments must still make separate decisions after joint meetings.

Sapp is requesting that the development be annexed to Columbia in order to receive city sewer service, police protection and other city services. Water would be provided by an area water district and electricity would be provided by Boone County Electric Cooperative.

If approved, it would be the largest annexation in Columbia’s history.

But some Harg-area locals, fearing dangerous traffic conditions on Route WW and a change to the rural character of the neighborhood, don’t want to see this happen.

Ellen Wolfe, who lives near the development, said nothing in Thursday’s meeting changed her opposition.

“The density and the type of development haven’t changed,” Wolfe said.

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