City Council Set to Vote on Subdivision Near State Park

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will vote Tuesday whether to annex land to allow developers to build a new subdivision near Rock Bridge State Park. 

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the city council should approve a plan for Parkside Estates at an August meeting. The proposed subdivision would have more than 60 units and it would become a neighbor to the wildlife on the northwest side of the state park. 

The city council has twice tabled the plans for the proposed subdivision this year. 

State park officials and environmental activists still oppose the plan. Jan Weaver, the treasurer of Friends of Rock Bridge State Park, said it would lead to an excess of "impervious surface" near the park's pristine watersheds. 

Impervious surfaces are driveways, streets and other surfaces in which water cannot seep into the ground and runs off instead. 

Weaver said a subdivision with more than 15 percent impervious surface would harm streams within Rock Bridge State Park. 

"Normal natural streams are going to have pools, which are deep enough for fish to survive in even when it is very dry, and very shallow riffles which are good for acquatic insects," Weaver said. "But when the water comes rushing through it just digs all that out. So basically you turn the stream with all its pools and its riffles into a ditch."

Weaver said she does not support any plan in which 15 percent or more of the surface is impervious, yet she acknowledged it would be economically difficult to build a subdivision to meet that threshold. 

Weaver said the city should build higher density development in land that is already near the city. 

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday.