City Council Sewer Woes

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COLUMBIA- Monday evening the Columbia City Council discussed possible building permits for apartment complexes downtown. City manager Mike Matthes put a freeze on downtown development in Columbia in December, saying that the infrastructure could not handle any more residents.

The city has attempted to move forward since the freeze, with a proposal of a tax increment financing plan, or a TIF, in order to pay for infrastructure improvements.  The city council voted down the TIF because it didn't see that as the best way to finance those improvements.

"For most developments to move forward, there needs to be electric to the site, there needs to be water available, and certainly sewer service," Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. "It's something we are really having an issue with, being at capacity at the present time."

The two student apartment complexes discussed Monday are Collegiate Housing Partners on the corner of 5th Street and Conley Avenue and American Campus Communities on the corner of 4th and Conley Avenue.  The Collegiate Housing Partners site would have 351 beds and American Campus Communities would have 718 beds.

"We have about eight projects right now that are technically on hold, for various reasons," St. Romaine said. "The majority of them have to do with sewer, the fact that they will be producing more, than is currently being allowed."

Romaine said some of the projects are not at a complete standstill.  Some of them are still moving through all of the correct channels but the city is worried about the sewer system and will not issue any building permits without making sure that the utilty infrastructure can handle it.

The city council will discuss options with developers at Monday meeting and make a decision on how to handle the sewer problem in the upcoming weeks.