Sapp revises Harg annexation bid

Development plans scaled down from 965 acres to 169 acres.
Friday, February 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

When Harg-area petitioners blocked Billy Sapp’s initial 965-acre annexation proposal earlier this month, they knew the developer had contingency plans.

Now Sapp has decided to take an incremental approach. On Wednesday, he filed a request for a 169-acre annexation.

The land is on the south side of Route WW, east of Columbia city limits. The requested zoning would allow 500 to 650 homes, but the developer’s plans show only 300 single-family residences.

“We will look in the future about rezoning to get some different densities,” Don Stamper, Sapp spokesman, said.

The scaled-down approach is Sapp’s secondary strategy after the larger proposal met resistance from county residents. Harg-Area Residents for Responsible Growth, or HARG, filed a petition in late January to block the annexation. They needed signatures from at least 2 percent of qualified Columbia voters and acquired 2.9 percent.

Sapp’s first annexation proposal was the largest in the city’s history. His development plans included a golf course and up to 1,800 homes.

“People were uncomfortable with a large annexation, so we’ve cut that back,” Stamper said. “This is a way to begin on our property, and we’ll go from there.”

HARG members plan to meet next week to study the new plan and discuss its potential impact.

“At this time, we’re leery of what this will lead up to,” HARG member Willis Richmond said. “This is just a stepping stone for the grand scheme he has going on.”

Ellen Wolfe, a Harg-area resident, said the new proposal came as no surprise.

“Obviously we expected that they would go ahead with the development,” she said. “What we need to do is take a look at that and see how it fits in with the environment out here.”

If HARG petitions to block this proposal, involuntary annexation would not be possible because Sapp lacks the necessary 15 percent contiguous border with the city.

“Hopefully our friends in the Harg area will find this substantially more limited request to be unobjectionable,” Sapp attorney Bruce Beckett wrote in the request for annexation.

The Columbia City Council will likely vote Monday night to schedule a public hearing on the new request. A positive council vote will eventually be required to approve the annexation.

“In general, I’m in favor of annexations,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said. “I believe as development occurs around the city, it should be in the city.”

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