A developer of a new subdivision is petitioning to rename a portion of Rice Road because it says its negative reputation is hurting the development.

The developer, D&D Investments of Columbia LLC, sent nearby residents a letter informing them of its petition to rename the stretch of Rice Road between Ballenger Lane and Lake of the Woods Drive.

In the letter, LLC members Dan Burks and Dave Drane said their company recently developed a parcel of land in which they extended Rice Road to connect with Lake of the Woods Drive.

“We are building well-appointed three-bedroom, two-bath homes,” the letter said.

It said the company wanted to rename the stretch of road to “Avian Boulevard.”

“We believe the name Rice Road carries so many negative connotations with it, that your and our property values are affected,” the letter said. “Most problems on Rice Road occur on the west side of Ballenger Lane but those of you with properties on the east side of Ballenger are harmed by the stigma that comes with the name.”

The letter said the developer understands the change could be inconvenient to those who would have to change their addresses but went on to state “that the positives of the name change would far outweigh that effort.”

“It’s not what we’re changing it to; it’s what we’re changing it from,” Drane told KOMU.

He said erasing the stigma associated with the street could attract more homeowners to invest in the neighborhood long term.

“For us to make that a very viable part of the city, we need to have home ownership,” Drane said. “I don’t want these to all be rental houses. We can do that, but that’s not what we told the neighbors we were going to do.”

Christina Kennell lives one street away from Rice Road with her two children. She said she was aware of the stigma of the road before moving in.

“There’s usually a lot of cop activity down there,” Kennell said.

She said the portion of the road east of Ballenger has always been safe. She said changing its name isn’t her top priority, but she understands why the developers would want to do it.

“One way or another, I don’t really care too much, but I do get it,” Kennell said. “If I hear ‘Rice Road,’ I feel the same way.”

Drane and Burks said the change is not official yet. They’re still gathering signatures for their petition and taking suggestions for the new name.

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