Harg-area petitioners collected more signatures than required to halt the largest proposed voluntary land annexation in Columbia’s history.
A report signed by City Manager Ray Beck declares the objection to Billy Sapp’s 1,000-acre annexation plan valid and advises the City Council not to vote or hold a second public hearing at Monday night’s meeting.
The council can decide not to follow the advice of the report, but Mayor Darwin Hindman said it’s unlikely.
“Since our counselor says the petition meets the requirements of the law, I will assume we will follow his advice and not vote on it,” Hindman said.
Members of the Harg Area Residents for Responsible Growth are preparing to attend Monday night’s council meeting and, if needed, voice their concerns.
“Our concern is that Mr. Stamper and Mr. Sapp will raise other objections and push the council further,” HARG spokeswoman Renee Richmond said. “We will be prepared in case we need to speak at a public hearing.”
Sapp spokesman Don Stamper has not disclosed his contingency plans. Stamper said a proposed House bill that would give county commissioners power to intervene in annexations would not facilitate his plans.
“I do not see this bill as a solution in its current form,” he said. “It would not take effect until August if passed, and if anything it could hinder development.”
Members of HARG needed signatures from at least 2 percent of the more than 70,000 qualified Columbia voters. They acquired 2.9 percent. While Stamper said he is considering questioning what criteria determines a “qualified” voter, Beck’s report states that “qualified” is intended to mean nothing more than “registered.”
Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren confirmed Friday morning that 2,155 signatures on the 260-page petition were from “registered, qualified” voters in Columbia.
Beck’s report further advises the council to table the authorization of Sapp’s development agreement and sewer extension plans.