Plans for a proposed 113-home subdivision on 65.5 acres bordering Gans Creek Wild Area have drawn attention from Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
The development site is immediately north of the wild area, which is part of the state park. The wild area is one of 12 in the state.
Gans Creek flows through the wild area. It is one of 44 streams that the Missouri Clean Water Commission has designated as an outstanding water resource. Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park say the creek could be contaminated by storm runoff from the new development.
Rob Hill would be the developer of the proposed Canton Estates, which would be southeast of East Gans Road and South Bearfield Road.
“I’m actually a part of Friends of Rock Bridge,” Hill said. He also developed Parkside Estates, which is on the northwest border of the state park and has homes listed in the $325,000 to $650,000 range. He said he gave very specific concessions to environmental advocates during the Parkside project.
“With Parkside, the state park director wanted a 50-foot buffer,” Hill said, referring to the amount of space between the neighborhood and the state park. “We gave him that. This time we gave the park a 200-foot buffer.”
The environmental concerns are not exclusively about distance. They also include the amount of impervious surface such as roads, sidewalks and roofs in the subdivision. A high percentage of impervious surface risks the chance of increased runoff to conservation areas like Gans Creek.
Hill’s engineering team plans to manage runoff using controlled lakes and a dry basin. Any runoff that travels beyond the water management methods would have to run further than the 200-foot buffer.
“Everything that we have now meets the city codes for stormwater regulation and water runoff,” Hill said.
The property is just outside Columbia city limits in Boone County; Hill is seeking annexation.
The proposed development would have 113 houses, an overall 1.7 houses per acre, Hill said. The side of the development that drains toward the park would have a lesser density of 0.67 houses per acre.
Kevin Roberson, president of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, wants the density to be lowered to one house for every 2.5 acres.
“We were very clear on what our ask is, what our expectation is from the development,” Roberson said.
Hill said a housing density that low would cause the development to lose money.
“That’s not practical,” he said, saying more houses are needed to meet a greater demand. “Columbia’s growing at such a fast rate, we’re already behind.”
Roberson’s group does not believe Hill’s proposal defies any rules or regulations. Instead, he would like the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission to encourage Hill to reduce the percentage of impervious surface in the development from around 25% to below 15%.
“We expect it to be smart and acceptable development that protects this jewel that we have,” Roberson said.
Despite both being members of the same environmental group, Hill and Roberson disagree.
“We just have people coming from opposite ends of the continuum,” Hill said. “Our goals are diametrically opposed. I want to develop and disturb the land to let people have places to live, and they don’t want the land being disturbed at all.”
Although Roberson wishes the development would modify its plans, he says he does not think poorly of Hill.
“I think that Rob cares a lot about all of those things,” Roberson said. “I think that he’s coming from a different viewpoint.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hold public hearings on the proposed annexation and zoning and the proposed preliminary plat at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8, at the Daniel Boone City Building.