City Council approves sewer projects, runway reconstruction funding

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council voted to approve funding for sewer relief in downtown Columbia during Monday night's meeting, specifically the Flat Branch main sewer line.

The council voted 4-3 on this issue, with Mayor McDavid and council members Skala, Thomas and Hoppe in opposition.

This project has received scrutiny due to the apparent connection between this project and the Opus development and the sewage needs of the proposed apartment complex on 8th street.

Three council members voiced support for the relief project. First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick said that the current sewer system in that area is over 100 years old and needs maintenance and repair. Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser echoed this position, and Mayor Bob McDavid said this is a project that has to be fixed now.

Council members Karl Skala and Barbara Hoppe both voted no. They said that the amount of opposition the Opus development has received as well as the concern from local residents about this project should cause the council to slow this project down.

"This was put on the fast track for new development, but not the kind of development we need," said Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe.

The ordinance will appoint more than $2 million for downtown sewer projects this year, with an additional $3 million next year.

"I view this as something that needs to be fixed right now," said McDavid.

The council also voted to move forward with Phase I of the reconstruction project of the Columbia Regional Airport runway. Originally the council planned to appoint money to move underground power lines before the reconstruction project began. However, the city may receive money from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would cover 90 per cent of the total reconstruction cost, including moving power lines before construction.