New annexation bid surprises Harg group

Richland Road LLC seeks to develop land east of Columbia.
Friday, March 4, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:23 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

Harg-area residents learned of a new annexation request in their neighborhood at a meeting Thursday night with Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, and Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin.

Richland Road LLC has filed a request for Columbia to annex 147 acres, located east of the city on the south side of Richland Road, near the intersection of St. Charles Road.

The applicants are requesting zoning for 67 acres of multi-family dwellings, 55 acres of business district and 26 acres of office district, according to city documents. The land is zoned in the county for single-family residential and agricultural residential.

A City Council public hearing is likely to be scheduled for April 4, according to a memo from Assistant City Planner Bill Watkins.

The site consists of one tract of undeveloped land, with drainage into the Grindstone Creek. Dense trees cover the southern half of the tract, and it is open pastureland in the northern half.

“This is the first we’ve heard of this,” said Willis Richmond, a member of the Harg-Area Residents for Responsible Growth, or HARG.

“We’ll discuss it as soon as we get more information on it,” Richmond said.

HARG has petitioned against annexations in the past, blocking developer Billy Sapp’s 965-acre proposal in early February. But Richmond said the group will not necessarily try to stop the latest annexation on Richland Road.

“We only have so many people and so many resources,” he said.

For the last few weeks, HARG members have been collecting signatures to stop Sapp’s scaled-down 169-acre request with intentions to submit a petition on March 21.

“It’s much simpler to collect signatures this time,” Richmond said. “People have seen the petition before. They know what it is.”

Baker and Elkin attended the meeting to answer questions about development and growth in the county and how the county can have more input.

“Currently, we have no voice and no seat at the table concerning the development that takes place,” Elkin said before the meeting. “The effects of the development don’t stop at the city-county border. There is an effect in both jurisdictions.”

Proposed House Bill 447 — filed by Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico — would give the county a say in developments and eliminate the ability of county residents to block annexations with a petition signed by 2 percent of city voters.

Hobbs said he will not move forward with the bill if he sees more communication between the city and county.

“I think I’ve seen some improvements, and I’m hoping they continue,” Hobbs said. “What I’m hoping is that they will work together and maybe they can hammer out some agreements as they look for more cooperation between the city and the county. The ball is in their court. I’m just waiting and watching.”

Baker said she did not know if the bill would go to a hearing and advocated communication between city and county officials.

“It’s about being able to communicate without preconceived agendas,” she said.

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