COLUMBIA — A proposal by Boone Hospital Center to rezone land to accommodate a new 900-space parking garage was approved unanimously by the Columbia City Council on Monday night.
The land, now home to an abandoned residence, is at Bass Avenue and South William Street. The garage is planned in conjunction with a six-story, $120 million patient tower that hospital officials say will provide space for many patients previously turned away because of insufficient capacity.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-3 on July 19 to recommend that the council approve the hospital’s request that the residential land be rezoned for general office uses. That request, however, met resistance from nearby residents.
The East Campus Neighborhood Association has objected to general office zoning, preferring that the hospital seek planned office zoning that would require it to submit specific plans to the council for approval. Planned zoning also would allow the neighbors to provide input on how to address their concerns about landscaping, aesthetic design and environmental and safety issues.
Tom Schneider, an attorney for the Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees, told planning commissioners at the July meeting that the hospital is “not at a point where it’s practical to switch horses,” according to meeting minutes.
After Monday’s vote, Cavanaugh Noce, president of the neighborhood association, stressed the most important thing for the neighborhood was to have a good relationship with the hospital moving forward.
“Tonight was a good first step to insuring that we discuss and address our concerns in the future,” Noce said.
The construction manager for the project predicted losses of up to $250,000 each month construction is delayed. Additionally, the land in question comprises only 20 percent to 25 percent of the total land that the parking garage would encompass. The remainder of the property is already zoned for general office use, and thus would not require a development plan.
Barbara Weaver, Board of Trustees chairwoman, assured the council that to alleviate traffic concerns, the hospital plans to widen South William Street, as well as following recommendations made by the city after reviewing the traffic study filed by the hospital.