Columbia residents express concern over new development on west side of town

COLUMBIA - Some Columbia residents expressed their concerns over the planned development of a commercial property off of Scott Boulevard and Smith Drive Thursday night.

Developers asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone the property to allow for commercial development off of Scott Boulevard and residential properties off of Smith Drive.

Chuck Weidmeyer, the Home Owners Association President in the neighborhood that borders the property said the new development would shatter the quiet and secluded nature of the neighborhood.

“We’ve enjoyed a very quiet neighborhood for many years with these 45 acres buffering our neighborhood from Scott,” Weidmeyer said. “Our main concern if they develop is the traffic and the commercial areas that will go into this development."

Weidmeyer said his neighbors do not think there is a need for businesses like gas stations or convenience stores because there already exist nearby.

“We are vehemently opposed to having those particular properties in such location to us because within a three-mile radius there are gas stations, grocery stores, and banks,” Weidmeyer said. “The increase in traffic from a commercial entity would not be conducive to a neighborhood.”

A big concern that the residents who spoke before the Planning and Zoning commission expressed was the possible increase in traffic on Scott Boulevard and Smith Drive. 

“Those of us who navigate those roads every day have to deal with the safety issue because there is a neighborhood just west of us that has lots of single-family homes,” Weidmeyer said. “The only way in or out is on Smith boulevard and increase in traffic from this commercial development, more residential, you are just asking for more safety problems.”

Weidmeyer and others in his neighborhood have been in contact with fourth ward city council member Ian Thomas regarding their concerns. Thomas was present at Thursday night’s meeting.

The staff report recommended the city council approve the rezoning for single family and multiple family homes, but deny request to rezone for commercial use. The Commission concurred with the staff's request at the meeting Thursday night. 

Weidmeyer says if the city council allows the property to be rezoned, he may look for a new place to live.

“I’m sure it will cross my mind and many of my neighbors’ minds. It takes away from something that we purchased, knowing that there was a buffer between us, knowing that there could be a development there down the road, but we want it to be smart if it is going to happen at all.”

The commission’s recommendation now goes to the city council. It will hold a public hearing on the issue sometime next month before they make a final decision on it.