City council to vote on Ridgemont Park subdivision Monday

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COLUMBIA - Neighborhood development plans for the Ridgemont Park subdivision has been revised, leading up to a city council vote on the Ridgemont Park subdivision in West Columbia.

The council considered the subdivision in late January, and voted 4-3 to add a cul-de-sac to the plans. The Ridgemont Park Subdivision plan would develop 24 single-family homes, spanning 12 acres, off of Ridgemont Drive. The revised subdivision plan will be re-submitted to the city council on Monday.

Columbia’s development services manager said, despite revisions, the plan is still a residential development, and original plans for a road connection were eliminated.

“It now has a single point of ingress and egress from Ridgemont. And the Ridgemont access, which was the biggest point of contention, was removed,” Patrick Zenner said.

He added, "The cul-de-sac was per council direction. The lot is now backed up to the existing terminus of Ridgefield Road as it intersects with the subject site. So, there is no through-connectivity anymore. The only way that was proposed in the development of the Ridgemont plat is off of Ridgemont Drive in the cul-de-sac."

Kim Kraus, president of the Ridgefield Park Association, said about 130 residents were involved in talks since the beginning with developers Pate Jones construction and Crockett engineering.

"We already have so many traffic problems in our area, there’s a few sidewalks on these streets, but most don’t have sidewalks. We’ve been on the traffic calming project list for over 10 years, both Ridgemont and Ridgefield, and so adding a through-street, when we already have safety issues, was a huge concern," Krause said. "We were just begging, please, don’t make it a through-street, we already have so many problems with traffic, and they agreed to do it."

She said in addition to agreeing to remove the access road, the developers will be donating the back end of the property to the city parks and recreation department. 

"We haven’t lost anything with this plan, the developer was going to build on the property anyway, and I feel like with the compromise we’re not overly adding to our already bad traffic problem and the city’s gaining six acres of green new park space," Kraus said. "It's an example of how developers and neighborhoods can work together and come out with something most people will be happy with."

Even though the road connection was eliminated, neighborhood resident Martin Katz still has serious safety concerns about putting the single entrance to the development at the proposed location off of Ridgemont.

According to Katz, two blind curves on the street and speeding traffic make Ridgemont Drive a dangerous location for entry.

“Ridgemont not only carries all the traffic in the neighborhood for drivers entering or exiting College Park Drive, it’s a cut-through for people going from the Forum shopping center to get over to Fairview. Probably most speeders are just cutting through the neighborhood,” Katz said.

“There’s a plastic safety guard standing in the middle of that intersection that has been run over numerous times. That could just as well be a person. And that someday will be a person. And that will be on the conscious of the city council and the developer if they allow this to go forward,” he said.

Katz presented an alternate proposal to Columbia’s city council meeting in January.

“My proposal is to go ahead and keep the cul-de-sac, that’s what the city council majority voted for, but instead of the entrance on Ridgemont, put it on the dead end at Ridgefield. If you look out from where that entrance would be it’s perfectly flat street, no cross streets, no cross traffic, no though traffic,” Katz said.

Developers previously wanted to add a road connection, extending the road through the new development until it reached Rigemont Drive and College Park Drive, which leads to Stadium Boulevard. The road connection upset many long-time residents of the neighborhood, who considered seeking legal aid in December to fight the road connection.

The city council will vote on the revised Ridgemont Park subdivision plan on Feb. 6.

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