Council delays rezoning, honors police officer

Proposed development would require road improvement; section of Nifong Boulevard to be designated in honor of Molly Bowden
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The Columbia City Council agreed Tuesday to delay action on a rezoning request that would have led to a new single-family residential neighborhood in south Columbia. Landowner George Wilson wants nearly 120 acres east of Howard Orchard Road rezoned from agricultural to residential.

Residents along Howard Orchard Road have expressed concern about the rezoning because they say the road is dangerous and needs major improvements. Howard Orchard Road is currently an unimproved gravel road that residents say is too narrow and hilly to support the new development, which is expected to have between 100 and 200 new homes.

The condition of the road was an issue as well for the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission, which in November voted to recommend the city deny Wilson’s rezoning request. Commissioners remain concerned the new subdivision will raise the density in the area, and they point out that it is not known who will pay for the necessary improvements.

“There have been no discussions on that,” presiding Boone County Commissioner Keith Schnarre said Tuesday.

Residents of the adjacent Thornbrook subdivision also objected to Wilson’s plan, fearing an increase in traffic on two streets that run through Thornbrook to the new development.

While city planners acknowledged the inability to require improvements to Howard Orchard Road, they recommended approval of Wilson’s request, saying the road improvements will have to be addressed during the planning process.

“If the property is to develop in total,” said a staff report issued in November, “either the city or the county will have to make at least some improvements to Howard Orchard Road.”

In September, the council approved Wilson’s request that the property be annexed by the city. The property owner plans to submit a plan for the new development once the zoning is approved.

The City Council also unanimously agreed to redesignate a portion of Nifong Boulevard, between Forum Boulevard and Bethel Road, as “Molly Bowden Memorial Boulevard,” in honor of the Columbia police officer fatally wounded during a traffic stop almost a year ago. Bowden, the first Columbia police officer to be killed in the line of duty, died Feb. 10, 2005.

“I think we felt the tragedy from the murder, and this is very appropriate,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said. “It is very fitting.”

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