code follow up

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COLUMBIA - Local development businesses are raising concerns about Columbia's new development code. 

Mark Farnen, Managing Partner at Strategists Communications, said a lack of public education is the problem.

"How in the world does everybody else learn about what's in this very, very complex document unless there's education?" Farnen said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission held six public hearings this summer to take public comments and concerns along with 15 work sessions. These notes helped create the current draft the commission will continue to review Thursday. 

Commission chairman Rusty Strodtman said the documents have been made available for those interested. 

"Everything has been submitted online, it's been out there on the website for months, so yes, to some extent it is up to the general citizen to stay informed," Strodtman said.

Farnen says he attended all the public hearings and works sessions this summer. His solution is to have an education phase so the public knows what changes are coming.

"Now it is time to roll this out to the public and make recommendations about the individual components to this wide-ranging code that will affect the citizens of Columbia for years to come," Farnen said in his statement to the commission.

The code aims to consolidate and specify Columbia's development codes and declare the downtown area's new zoning classification. The 700-page document has been in the works for almost 3 years.

"It wouldn't be totally out of the realm to maybe ask for another extension [from city council], I don't know. We'll see how far we get tonight but we still have a lot of work to do and we are already on borrowed time," Strodtman said.

Thursday's meeting is the second of three sessions the commission uses to review the most recent draft of the code. Strodtman anticipates the code could be voted on at the November 10 meeting.