Columbia City Council members will have to decide on Tuesday whether what would be a historic expansion of the city is worth the $5.9 million it will cost taxpayers.
Before they vote on the proposed annexation, council members will consider approving a detailed agreement between developer Billy Sapp and the city. Included in the 17-page agreement are promises by the city to extend a sanitary sewer line through the land Sapp wants annexed and to lengthen Rolling Hills Road, which would run along part of Sapp’s property.
In return, Sapp would be required to pay for some roadwork and to provide easements for the sewer line. He has also agreed to donate 18 acres for a neighborhood park.
“It’s probably the fairest and best agreement that could be worked out,” City Manager Ray Beck said Friday. He said many of the infrastructure costs associated with the development will fall on the people who eventually choose to live there.
“I think the future residents will be contributing substantially to this development’s improvements, which has not been the case before,” Beck said.
Sapp spokesman Don Stamper said he is satisfied with the proposed agreement. “It pretty well covers what we’ve discussed,” he said.
Sapp has asked the city to annex 805 acres along the north and south sides of Route WW east of the city and zone it for residential and commercial uses. Almost 40 percent larger than the recently incorporated Philips farm, the property would constitute the largest voluntary annexation in the city’s history. Plans call for the construction of more than 1,500 homes, some commercial development and a golf course.
Under the terms of the development agreement, Columbia would pay to extend Rolling Hills Road from the north end of Sapp’s property to Richland Road by 2010 at a cost of $2.4 million. Money for the project would be available only if voters approve a proposed transportation tax package slated for the November ballot.
Sapp would pay for the portion of Rolling Hills Road that would run north along the west side of his property from Route WW and will donate right of way for street expansion. He has also agreed to pay for roadwork and traffic signals at two intersections along Route WW and for the construction of entrances from the property onto Route WW.
The city has agreed to extend a sewer line it is installing along the South Fork of Grindstone Creek through the Sapp property within six months of gaining easements to the land from Sapp. The Public Works Department said the line would be extended 13,000 feet, or almost 2..5 miles. That project is expected to cost $3.5 million.
Sapp has also agreed to donate 18 acres for a future park. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said the land could be used to create a large neighborhood park.
“My staff has walked the property. They feel it’s a site we’d be interested in,” he said. “Our master plan identifies a need in that general area, and this donation could meet that need.”
Neighborhood parks are intended to serve residents living within a half-mile radius, Hood said. The donated land could create a park sufficient to serve residents in one part of the development, but does not appear to be enough for those living in other areas. Hood said a planned private golf course in another part of the development would provide adequate green space.
“I feel very good about meeting the open-space needs of this development,” he said.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the development agreement and annexation at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.