Columbia in legal battle over trail land

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia is taking a nonprofit organization to court over land set aside for a new trail. The city wants to expand the Hinkson Creek trail, while the wildlife protection group, It's Our Wild Nature, is trying to preserve the area as a natural habitat.

Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris decided Monday the nonprofit group is allowed 60 days for discovery before the next hearing.

It's Our Wild Nature bought the property in July, months after the Columbia City Council approved the plan for the trail. The city filed a suit regarding eminent domain shortly after.

Long-time Columbia resident Hilary Baumann said the benefits of a new trail outlast the negative consequences for wildlife.

"Once everything settles back down, yeah, it's a disruption, but it all comes back," she said.

The proposed trail would connect Bluffdale Drive to Rollins Road. The city says the goal of this connector is to link east Columbia neighborhoods to the University of Missouri campus. 

Jesse Poliuto lives near the entrance of the proposed trail and already imagines how she could utilize it.

"It'd be nice if it was closer to my house," she said. "I walk my dog but she can never make it far so we end up turning around, so I would use it for that."

A spokeswoman for It's Our Wild Nature said legal counsel advised the group not to speak to media while the case is in court. She said protection and preservation of wildlife is always their first priority.

City of Columbia representatives could not be reached for comment.

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