Developers acquire more southside land

The acquisition is the third amid multiple offers to owners.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Providence Farms LLC bought 140 acres from W.B. Smith Feed Mill Inc. last week, representing another step in the development firm’s efforts to acquire land in the area south of Columbia and extending toward the Missouri River.

The Smith sale is the third in a succession of transactions that include the purchase of 101.2 acres from Robert and Jane Sapp and Marvin and Kathleen Sapp and 15.5 acres from Mike Gamble.

Residents along and near Smith Hatchery Road are convinced that Providence Farms developers Jose, Jay and Scott Lindner are intent on accumulating more than 1,200 acres, including the entire 800 acres of the W.B. Smith Feed Mill and Hatchery property. Meanwhile, the city of Columbia’s boundaries have extended near the area through a series of annexations to the north.

While one family expects the Providence Farms purchases eventually will work in their favor, another says the sales leave them in a precarious position.

Offers from Providence Farms on the Wallace family’s 15 acres along Smith Hatchery Road have more than doubled since the corporation originally offered $109,000 in early spring, Elizabeth Wallace said.

Meanwhile, Karen and Ronald Stephens have quickly become surrounded by Providence Farms land. The couple sold all but a half acre of their property off Smith Hatchery to Gamble in 1994. While they believed it was a sound financial decision at the time, they now fear that Gamble’s sale to the Lindners means they’ll soon be inundated by development.

With her daughter in her senior year at Rock Bridge High School, Karen Stephens said, “It would be an inconvenience for us to have to pick up and move.”

For now, the Stephens family says, it will stay put and continue to brush off the offers they say Realtor Larry Oetting has made on behalf of Providence Farms.

The Smith acreage purchased by the Lindners lies south and west of the hatchery operation. While the Lindners’ plans for that land and the other acreage they’ve already acquired remain unknown, W.B. Smith submitted a survey of the 140 acres to the Boone County recorder of deeds, along with the transfer of deed, on Aug. 1. County Planning and Building Director Stan Shawver said surveys are required only if developers are looking to subdivide property.

But Kurt and Liz Wallace speculated the Smith property was changing hands long before the county knew.

“Kurt and I had gone down and picked blueberries from the backside of our land,” Wallace said. Surveyors had been on their property and damaged vegetation. Wallace called the Boone County sheriff, who in turn called Scott Lindner, she said.

“He was very apologetic and offered to come down and survey the damage.” Wallace said. “But it’s not about the money. It’s about the disregard for our land.”

The developer already had a poor track record with Wallace. She said she has turned down several “insulting” offers from Oetting for her family’s 15 acres.

Wallace has since been contacted by Commercial Capital LLC, a development group that recently bought and annexed 97 acres from Charles and Barbara Roberts directly north of the Wallace land.

“They were much more willing to sit down at the table with us,” Wallace said.

Wallace believes that time is on her family’s side and that the developers’ interest will work to her benefit.

“It’s not going to do anything but raise our property value,” she said. “All I know is what we’re giving up.”

For some residents though, even the prospect of profit won’t tempt them to sell their land.

Barbara Rodgers refuses to part with the 7.1 acres that sit catty-corner to the southwest of what used to be Gamble’s property.

“I’m 64 years old. I own this land, and I see no reason to go anywhere else,” she said. “They’d have to boot me out.”

About two months ago, Oetting called Rodgers to express interest in her property.

“I didn’t go into anything about money cause I knew I wasn’t going to sell,” she said, adding that the second time Oetting called, he said he had found 20 acres she might be interested in trading for. Rodgers didn’t even ask where the land was.

Recent sales in the area don’t interest her much, either. She has seen the red survey flags and knows the land has been surveyed, but her position is steadfast. 

“I’m kind of a loner out here,” she said. “I just kind of take care of myself and my place.

“And I’m not moving.”

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