After almost six months of debate, Delta Roads Development LLC and concerned Columbia residents might be on their way to ironing the kinks out of a controversial rezoning proposal for 10.9 acres west of Rock Quarry Road.
A decision to permit the construction of 26 residences in one-, two- and three-unit buildings was delayed until the June 2 meeting by the Columbia City Council on Monday night. Both Mark Farnen, Delta Roads Development spokesman, and Julie Youmans, Rock Quarry Neighborhood Association president, requested the plan be tabled. They also suggested Barbara Hoppe, Sixth Ward city councilwoman, and Jerry Wade, Fourth Ward city councilman, help mediate further discussions.
“They would try to facilitate a quick discussion to determine whether there are points of commonality to see if an agreement can be reached,” said Dan Simon, an attorney speaking on behalf of Delta Roads Development.
Farnen said having council members present would help ensure both parties continue to understand each other.
“We’re at a stage where we need to know exactly ‘What do you mean?’” Youmans said.
Youmans said her two main concerns are Rock Quarry Road’s status as a Scenic Roadway and avoiding the trash and parking problems that result from other overcrowded developments.
“I don’t care if the buildings are pink with purple polka dots, but I do want to know that the details are being chosen so that the tenants who find it appealing are going to make good neighbors and good community members,” Youmans said.
In October 2002, the council adopted the Rock Quarry Road Special Area Plan, which names Rock Quarry Road an official Scenic Roadway, meaning developers must preserve the trees and other plants on either side of the road.
“Instead of using the kind of construction where you flatten the land and start over, we especially want to protect it by doing things like leaving the oldest trees standing,” she said.
Delta Roads Development also wants to reach an agreement with community members.
“The Council recognized that we are headed in the right direction and would rather us work it out amongst ourselves, rather than make a decision that favors one party,” Farnen said.
Delta Roads Development first submitted the proposal in December to rezone the area from an agricultural district to a planned unit development that would have featured 32 dwellings on a vacant property west of Rock Quarry Road and north of Rolling Rock Road.
The council tabled the proposal in December, and a revised version was introduced in February that decreased the number of dwellings from 32 to 26.
After submitting the newest proposal May 3, both parties continued to work together to have a revised version that could be presented as a united front during Monday’s council meeting. The parties realized they hadn’t yet worked out all the kinks, Farnen said.
“Instead of forcing the issue tonight, we wanted more time to give it another chance to reach an agreement.” Farnen said.
These type of discussions are not unusual for developers in Columbia, Farnen said.
“This is not unique,” he said. “The council expects developers to do this. Their first question is always, ‘Did you talk to the neighbors?’”
At least five council members must approve the proposal on June 2 for it to pass because of a protest petition filed in December by neighbors Vicky Riback-Wilson and her brother Marty Riback. The petition requires two-thirds of the council to vote in favor of the plan before it can be approved.