Southern sprawl of Columbia affects another town

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COLUMBIA - The city's growth on its southern side is starting to affect other Boone County towns. 

Columbia's Planning and Zoning Commission sent a plan to the Columbia City Council to build a hotel and two franchise restaurants off of Highway 63 north of Discovery Parkway. The council heard the proposal for the first time on Monday. The council will vote on the development plan at its meeting June 1. Read more on this project here.

Steve MacIntyre is a planner for Columbia. He said that access and visibility are two key components in developing a blank plot of land to ensure the success of the development. 

"As you're figuring out the zoning, you're figuring out where we want the roadways to go," MacIntyre said. "Access is a key to any land use's success."

The city of Ashland has started to feel the effect of Columbia's southern expansion. The city has already made a request to MoDOT for an outer road along Highway 63. City Administrator Josh Hawkins said the spillover in population from Columbia has contributed to Ashland tripling in size in the past 15 years. However, there is currently only one access road from Highway 63 into Ashland. Route M, or Broadway Street in Ashland, gets horribly congested during rush hour, Hawkins said, and is especially bad before and after school hours.

"The 'Ashland rush hour' does exist," Hawkins said. "We have a large rural school district, a lot of the population of the country comes in the mornings and leave in the afternoons."

The 2000 Census Summary for Columbia reports a total population of just shy of 85,000. The 2010 Census Summary final count came it at more than 108,000 Columbia residents. This indicates a population growth of 22 percent in Columbia. 

MacIntyre said the city of Columbia is more focused on northern expansion, rather than southern expansion. He said sewer concerns as well as the watershed south of town could inhibit further development, but areas around Battle High School are optimal for growth.