Sapp development stymied amid zoning concerns

Talk of a joint city, county zoning plan draws questions.
Friday, December 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:17 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two weeks after proposing a joint planning and zoning process between Boone County and the city of Columbia, representatives of developer Billy Sapp are expressing reservations about the plan.

At a Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission work session Thursday night, Sapp spokesman Don Stamper said he and his boss are concerned about requirements in the county’s process that do not have to be met in the city’s process.

Sapp is planning to develop 1,000 acres of homes, condominiums, shops and a golf course just east of Columbia. He has requested annexation to the city so that the development may receive city sewer service, police protection and other services.

At the meeting, Stamper said the main problem with the county’s process is a requirement that a building plan — which specifies where houses, roads and other aspects of the development will be — must be submitted for the county to approve the zoning. In the city, a much more general plan is acceptable.

Stamper said the sheer size of the development would make it impossible to have a plan in two years.

“This is not your average 15- or 20-acre development; this is 1,000 acres,” Stamper said.

If a plan is not submitted in two years, the zoning changes could be revoked. In the meantime, Sapp would have poured money into a development that could not be completed, Stamper said.

Stamper proposed the combination of a more flexible type of county residential zoning with an agreement that would limit the density of the development.

But commission members and county staffers expressed doubts.

“The only way a development agreement is binding is when it’s part of a planned development or part of a designed plat,” said Stan Shawver, director of planning and building inspection.

Pat Smith, chairwoman of the county’s planning and zoning commission, said the decision of whether to accept such a proposal involves legal questions surrounding a development agreement and would have to be made by the Boone County Commission.

Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller has said the county would not compromise any of its requirements to participate in a joint process. Miller specifically cited the requirement of a building plan.

In addition to discussing the logistics of county zoning approval, the Planning and Zoning Commission questioned Stamper about why he wanted this joint process.

“The principle reason is that we’re debating whether or not to continue in the city with the neighbor’s opposition or do it in the county,” Stamper said, citing a group of residents who live near the proposed development and are signing a petition to make the annexation more difficult.

Stamper said the joint process is in the spirit of both planning and zoning commissions’ desire for more cooperation. He also said it would give residents of both jurisdictions a say in something that will affect their homes.

Smith said the county needs to look at its own interests in deciding whether to go ahead with the process, which has already been recommended by both the county commission and Columbia City Council.

“They’re obviously looking to go into the city, so we’ve got to look at it and ask, ‘What’s in it for the county?’” Smith said.

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