COLUMBIA — Paul Hinshaw is not a self-described troublemaker. He wants to make that clear.
He’s lived in or near Columbia his whole life and is a fifth-generation Boone County resident.
“The city means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m established and planning to be here my whole life, and that’s why I’d rather not be involved. I don’t have a political agenda. This has brought me to the table because of what’s at stake.”
Hinshaw lives at 5150 Richland Road with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. His home eventually will be surrounded by development on the east, south and west if the Columbia City Council passes the contentious 271-acre Richland Road annexation and rezoning request at its meeting Monday night.
Developer David Atkins owns the U-shaped property that is the subject of the Richland Road request. But in the midst of those tracts lies 43.5 acres that Atkins does not own. That area includes the home and three acres that Hinshaw owns, as well as Smith Lake.
Hinshaw’s home is at the end of a long gravel driveway. The brick, ranch-style house with a long, dark brown roof sits on the open lot. Children’s toys lie on the expansive concrete front porch. On the back side of the house, the ground slopes gently down to the lake, roughly 200 feet away.
Atkins is proposing more than 100 acres of commercial development split across two tracts, plus a maximum of 700 residences — a mix of single-family, duplex, townhouse and apartment dwellings — that would span three tracts.
The highest density residential tract could lie less than 300 feet east of Hinshaw’s front door. Atkins is proposing a maximum of 46 residences and 124 parking spaces on 6.6 acres.
“I don’t really want to live next to an apartment complex,” Hinshaw said. “If it was all single-family, I’d be all for it. If it was all single-family on two- or three-acre tracts, I’d be jumping for joy. That would be the best possible solution. But I understand that it’s not going to be farmland.”
Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl, whose jurisdiction would include the Atkins property if it’s annexed, said he understands why people would move to rural areas like the site of the proposed development.
“But things change,” Kespohl said. “Columbia’s changing. Columbia’s evolving, and we’re going to be a big city before long. I’m not sure it’s right for them to impose their philosophy and their wants and concerns on someone who owns land, who wants to develop it into higher density.”
The Richland Road project would force those looking for a rural lifestyle farther outside the city, but the development plan is based on the assumption that Stadium Boulevard will be extended.
The project has no funding, and it’s unclear when it will. So it’s unlikely that Atkins will build anytime soon. So residents would have time to decide whether they want to move.
“They end up having to move and find another location if they want to keep the same kind of residential setting they have or accept the fact that urbanization is going to happen,” former Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said.
That’s the situation Hinshaw is in.
“Well, my wife wants to move, but it’s hard to project out into the future,” Hinshaw said. “It’s not what we quote-unquote ‘signed on for’ when we bought there, but everybody has to accept change.”