East Columbia Area Plan nears final form with meeting Tuesday

BY Eric Holmberg

COLUMBIA — After 18 months of work, Columbia may soon have a comprehensive plan for growth on the eastern fringe of town.

For the fifth and final time Tuesday, the public will be able to provide its input at a public input session on a draft of the East Columbia Area Plan. This session focuses specifically on future land use and growth management.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 4747 E. Elk Park Drive.

In preparation for Tuesday’s meeting, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission and a representative of the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission met Thursday to prepare their pitch for the plan.

The commission’s future land-use map will be the final part of the presentation. It provides zoning recommendations such as commercial, residential or agricultural uses for land.

The future land-use map shows planned roadways and designated commercial areas. The plan is open to revision at least once every five years, but it could be revised more often. To avoid having participants focus on their individual properties at the meeting, the commission won’t show that detailed map with all streets and lots.

Instead, the map at the meeting will show zoned areas broadly, as opaque blocks.

“We want to foreshadow the future land-use map. (We) don’t want to present it; (we) want to foreshadow it,” Pat Zenner, city development services manager, said at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’m not going to have it on a board as part of the first 15 minutes of the public meeting because we don’t want that to be the focus of any discussion,” Zenner said.

The commission will also present its draft report on growth management, which takes into consideration the six watersheds that comprise the area. The Grindstone Creek watershed is the largest and most fertile watershed for development, according to the commission.

“We have made the point within the plan, in numerous sections, that the Gans (Creek) watershed is being held off the table because of its lack of any infrastructure in the immediate future,” Zenner said.

Because the commission has put environmental guidelines in the plan, like preventing development within 300 feet of a creek, population density has become an issue the commission has discussed with residents.

Zenner said some low-density residential development had to be sacrificed in order to preserve more of the environment.

While Tuesday is the final input session, it is not the final opportunity for residents to express their opinions on the area plan.

“It’s not their last chance by any means,” David Brodsky, chairman of the commission, said in a phone interview Saturday. “We’ll have this public meeting, then we’ll have two more public hearings, and then it will go to both City Council and the County Commission, and they’ll have an opportunity to voice their opinions there.”


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