Columbia City Council Votes to Rescind EEZ Resolution

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council unanimously voted to rescind a resolution Monday that established an Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board and EEZ boundaries. This means the board would need to be re-established with a new ordinance along with eliminating a proposed map of EEZ boundaries.

This decision was unexpected because the council was originally set to vote on revising a proposed EEZ map. That vote would not have included revising the board. Fourth Ward Columbia City Councilman Daryl Dudley said the discussion of EEZ boundaries is still ongoing.

The council expects about a two-week delay in the board's duties as it is re-appointed. Most of the public at the meeting was excited about this decision. Members of the public also called for a more diverse board with representatives from all over the city.

A blight declaration is necessary to receive money from the state and federal level to fund tax breaks for manufacturing companies within the EEZ program.

"My ultimate goal for the map is to employ a whole lot of people in Columbia that don't have jobs today, and that's the whole idea for the EEZ... to get people working," Dudley said.

However, the council also established the EEZ Advisory Board in Columbia to set its own regulations to the program. An area could be declared blight due to factors including inadequate street layout, poverty and unsanitary conditions.

The EEZ Advisory Board has not declared any areas of Columbia blighted by only taking unemployment and poverty in a particular area into account. According to a Missouri statute, the state can acquire areas declared blight. This policy lead to fears of eminent domain in Columbia among citizen groups. Dudley maintains the state would need the council's approval for this to go into effect, so fear of eminent domain would not be valid.