Commission tables vote on fraternity house rezoning

Friday, July 20, 2007 | 1:47 p.m. CDT; updated 1:27 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008
Alpha Gamma Sigma fraternity annex on the corner of Rollins and Providence.

Alcohol and tobacco use, increased noise and traffic levels and the encroachment of commercial areas were among the concerns raised by neighbors of an old fraternity house up for rezoning and development.

Upon hearing public comment at its meeting Thursday night, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission decided to wait on its decision until the developers talk further with neighbors.

MU fraternity Alpha Gamma Sigma’s Alumni Association applied for a change from moderate-density residential zoning to planned-commercial for the old fraternity building at 500 Rollins St. The association recently bought the property from MU fraternity Alpha Kappa Lambda, who had not been living there for years.

Also up for approval was the group’s development plan to renovate the interior, adding a convenience-type store, a small restaurant and four student apartments. The plan’s exterior changes include the addition of a deck to the west side of the house, parking improvements and landscaping.

Jay Gebhardt, the civil engineer on the project, said the goal is to develop a “pedestrian-oriented” commercial operation.

“The fraternity is trying to provide a service to the neighborhood,” he said.

John Ott, president of Grasslands Neighborhood Association, said he thought that 99 percent of the people living in his community, which is on the other side of Providence Road, oppose the changes.

“What happens on Providence Road affects our neighborhood,” he said. “It just seems like a big problem waiting to happen.”

The alumni association met with representatives from Grasslands and tried to come up with compromises, but no agreement was made, Ott said. He listed the hours of operation, parking issues and the use of alcohol and tobacco on the proposed deck as big areas of contention.

The city report on the issue asked that there be a requirement that packaged alcohol not be sold in the building.

Cory Ridenhour, whose managing firm represents MU fraternity Delta Tau Delta, said he worried about the impact the plan would have on the more immediate neighbors.

He said he thought Delta Tau Delta would have to deal with overflow parking, decreased property values and increased crime rates connected with high pedestrian traffic.

Tracy Greever-Rice said that though she is not directly involved in the plan, she thinks it is a good idea.

“I support this project because the proposal is a fine example of appropriate mixed-use development,” she said.

The commissioners had mixed feelings about the plan.

Commissioner Vicki Curby said she worried about commercial development creeping into the area.

“I really don’t think this is the appropriate designation for this particular parcel of land,” she said.

Commissioner Glenn Rice said he liked the idea of a walkable, mixed-use community, but wanted a more definite plan.

The group voted 6-2 to table the decision until October so university students can join the in the process and so more work can be done to lay out the specifics of the plan.

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