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Group plans apartment complex for homeless teens

Monday, October 29, 2007 | 8:34 p.m. CDT; updated 5:01 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Central Missouri Community Action plans to build an apartment complex in north-central Columbia to house young adults between the ages of 16 and 21, in response to a growing concern over homeless teenagers in Columbia,

The apartments, which would be located at 1004 N. Seventh St., would provide housing and guidance for young adults, ideally for 12 to 18 months, according to an e-mail statement from Darin Preis, the executive director of CMCA.

The project hit a snag, however, when city inspectors denied the group’s request for a building permit. CMCA then applied for a variance with the Columbia Board of Adjustment, but Dianna Moore, the group’s economic development director, made a motion to table the issue during an early October meeting.

She said CMCA wants to meet with North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association before moving forward.

The motion came on the heels of a daylong e-mail exchange about the issue on a community mailing list.

The discussion, sparked by The Columbia Heart Beat, centered around a lack of communication between CMCA and the neighborhood association. Residents were upset that CMCA attempted to acquire a building permit before running the idea by the neighborhood association.

Preis apologized via e-mail, assuring the neighborhood that the miscommunication was a misunderstanding.

“We have so far to go yet with planning, funding, partnering, etc., that I forgot the trees for the forest. I ... would love to have a discussion with (the) NCCNA, Heart Beat readers, and anyone else about this concept,” Preis wrote. “CMCA wants to be a responsible, transparent community organization, and I again apologize for my error.”

Keeping with the cooperative spirit of the e-mail, CMCA has set up a meeting at 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Wilkes Church, 702 Wilkes Blvd., with the neighborhood association to discuss the plans and invite community input.

Further complicating the construction process is the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association’s proposed overlay district, which would require builders to adhere to stricter standards for construction in an effort to regulate landscaping and other aspects of building design.

One resident said CMCA’s lack of communication thus far was exactly why they wanted the design overlay.

CMCA representatives, however, said that they would try to adhere to the proposed overlay’s design specifications, even though it is currently not required.

“We’ve been aware of the design overlay and really have planned to incorporate that into the design of the building,” Moore said. “We’ve asked a groups of (MU) students to look at and design this building for us (and) to incorporate the North Central design overlay in their design work, even though the design overlay hasn’t been approved yet.”

Moore said the apartment design will utilize “green construction” techniques to help avoid harming nearby trees.

The project is estimated to cost $530,000, and CMCA expects funding to come from a variety of state and department grants.


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