Billy Sapp’s hope that city and county officials could work together to zone a new 1,000-acre development east of Columbia has hit a roadblock, forcing Sapp to focus entirely on city annexation.
Sapp had asked city and Boone County officials to work together to make sure the development would be appropriately zoned even if city annexation does not pan out. However, legal consultants have said the county would not be able to work with the city because of its different zoning regulations, Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller informed Sapp on Thursday.
“We did not feel that we could change our rules just to meet what they desired,” Miller said.
The city only requires a general plan for coming developments. The county, on the other hand, requires new projects to have much more detailed building plans outlining where buildings, roads and other aspects of developments will be built. Sapp spokesman Don Stamper has said earlier that a detailed plan could not be ready soon enough for the county because of the development’s large size.
The development would add homes, condominiums, shops and a golf course to Harg, a community east of Columbia. Sapp wants Columbia to annex the area to provide sewer service, police protection and other services for the development.
“We’d hoped and thought the project deserved a joint process, and it would have given representation to neighbors on both sides,” Stamper said. He added, though, that he did not expect the county’s decision to decrease the likelihood of the development becoming a reality.
Earlier this month, Miller said the County Commission supported the proposal to work together with the city, and she said she was unhappy with how things turned out.
“I’m disappointed because I thought it was a good opportunity,” Miller said. “I do not like that this community is moving to petitions and votes on every annexation, and that’s what it looks like it’s going to be.”
The county’s decision was a victory for a group of Harg residents, led by Renee Richmond, who oppose the development. Richmond said she recognizes Sapp’s right to build on his land, but she hopes that by blocking annexation, she can prevent “high density” and commercial building. Now that the county has rejected the joint zoning plan, she said nearby residents can focus solely on blocking city annexation.
Richmond also expressed skepticism about the motives of the joint plan.
“We had always kind of wondered how this was going to work,” Richmond said. “And we thought it was a smokescreen for directing attention away from our effort.”
Richmond and about 50 of her neighbors have been circulating a petition to prevent the annexation. Under Missouri law, if they receive signatures from 2 percent of city voters, the area cannot be voluntarily annexed. Instead, Sapp would need to get the land involuntarily annexed, which would require Sapp to get the support of a majority of city voters and to buy more land so that 15 percent would be contiguous to the city.