Infrastructure Issues: Columbia City Council discusses process

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COLUMBIA - A letter sent to the Columbia City Council could lead to some major changes regarding downtown development. 

Brent Gardner, the Vice-Chair of Columbia's Downtown Leadership Council (DLC), sent a letter requesting the city council to look into changing how Public Works does business with downtown developers, specifically regarding the toll these developments take on the city's infrastructure. The council will discuss topics addressed in the letter during its Monday night meeting. 

Gardner said the current process for determining how much developers pay the city in exchange for utilities is vague, and it's time for the city to be more upfront with taxpayers. 

"More transparency with the city staff, not that they're hiding anything necessarily but just letting council know how they determine how much they're going to use, how much it will cost the developer, or taxpayers," Gardner said. 

In the letter, the DLC reiterates its concerns regarding what Gardner describes as a "recent flurry of student apartment developments, specifically with infrastructure and parking."

Councilman Ian Thomas (W-4) said he believes the public should be able to review the processes by which the city determines existing infrastructure spare capacity, as well as how they decide how to pay for increasing capacity when necessary.

Gardner also asked the council to review development requirements. Sometimes, if the city wants to impose additional costs on developers, the council will negotiate a development agreement with the development company. In the letter, Gardner asks the council to look into implementing a permanent development agreement, called a "sufficiency of use test."

"The sufficiency test would analyze the adequacy of infrastructure. This includes water, electric, sewer, and roadways, as well as public safety services including police, fire, and other first responders. Impact fees could be collected to offset public infrastructure and service costs," Gardner said. 

KOMU 8 reached out to Public Works, but haven't yet gotten a response.