The Columbia City Council unanimously approved a local developer's proposal for a new cottage complex on Northridge Drive.
The complex, known as "The Cottages of Northridge," will be built by Hemme Construction and include 16 single-family cottages near the intersection of Northridge and Wayside drives.
The homes will be, on average, no more than 1,500 square feet. The houses will have single-car garages, and the developer has promised to provide picnic tables, a small library and a community garden in the development's common area.
The request was tabled during the council's Feb. 1 meeting. Neighbors in the area filed a protest petition, meaning at least five council members needed to approve the rezoning in order for it to pass.
All the members of the council followed the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation to approve this request, which the commission made after a lengthy discussion between the developer and the would-be neighbors.
The developers added additional setbacks and landscaping to the plan in order to accommodate the neighbors' concerns. Neighbors had brought up worries about the development being too dense for the 2.45 acre property and having a large impact on traffic.
The developer also assured neighbors that it will help advocate for traffic calming with a westbound speed limit sign and an assessment of sidewalks in the area.
Fourth Ward Councilperson Ian Thomas said he was happy to see the proposal pass.
"I think there has been equal effort from both the developers and the neighbors," he said. He also noted the development will be more affordable than most houses being built in Columbia.
Likewise, Third Ward Councilperson Karl Skala praised the work the development and neighbors did to find a compromise.
"This project has been exemplary," he said. "The amount of cooperation between the developer and the people in the area has been truly amazing."
Mayor Brian Treece said this project should act as a baseline for future housing projects when it comes to developers listening and conceding to neighbors' concerns.
The council also passed a motion to begin livestreaming Columbia Police Review Board meetings, at the recommendation of the board. Meetings were televised until 2013, when council members decided to discontinue the broadcast at the request of the board.
In other news, the council heard an update on COVID-19 and a report on utility financials for the 2021 fiscal year, and council members discussed accessibility for boards in commissions through virtual options.