Grocery store seen as perk of rezoning

Friday, March 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:08 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A grocery story is one of the first things people mentioned when the would-be developers of land at Range Line Street and Blue Ridge Road approached neighborhood associations to see what type of commercial uses they would support.

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday recommended the Columbia City Council approve the developers’ request for rezoning to accommodate planned commercial and office uses that might include a grocery store. Magnus Enterprises LLC submitted the request, which seeks to rezone three tracts totaling 45 acres at the southeast corner of the north-side intersection.

Commissioner Pat Daugherty said he thinks the proposal could address a real need.

“I feel like the people on the north side of I-70 have gotten the short end of the stick for a long time,” he said.

The group’s attorney, Robert Hollis, said that while it is too early to say what specific uses of the land might be, the developers do want to serve area needs. They discussed options with neighborhood associations before applying for rezoning.

“The associations all showed interest in a grocery store, and they also talked about banks,” Hollis said before the meeting. “We’re looking to fill the needs; a grocery store would be great.”

Frank Williams of Hunter’s Gate Neighborhood Association, said he appreciates the developers’ cooperation.

“We’d like to thank this development group for including us in the process and for heeding our recommendations,” he said.

Hollis said the 27-acre tract closest to Range Line Street has the necessary building and parking space for a grocery store. The smaller tracts, which are nine and eight acres, respectively, will be used for commercial and office purposes.

Hollis said the Magnus group plans to develop the nine-acre area as a lifestyle center similar to those near Hy-Vee on West Broadway and at Forum and Nifong boulevards.

The commission went along with a staff suggestion to attach conditions on the two tracts that would be rezoned C-P, or planned commercial. The conditions require a detailed traffic study and several driveway regulations.

The Blue Ridge-Range Line intersection has come under heavy pressure as residential subdivisions and commercial development increases in the surrounding area. Blue Ridge remains a narrow road with neither curbs nor shoulders, and it wasn’t until recently that a traffic signal was added at the crossing.

A request to table a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of land south of Richland Road shortened the meeting. The request came from Richland Road LLC.

A staff report recommended the commission and city council reject the request because of a lack of adequate roads. A future extension of Stadium Boulevard is proposed for the area.

Developer David Atkins was aware of the staff recommendation when he asked to table the hearing. He said the group’s application was not only a request but also a tool for communication.

“We’re pretty certain that the city’s hands are sort of tied, but we wanted to get it out into the public’s eye,” Atkins said. “We’ve got a great location, and we’re offering the right of way (for the Stadium project) as a gift.”

The commission recommended denial of an accompanying rezoning request submitted by Garry and Drake Lewis to accommodate development in the same area.

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