Mayors plan to stall student housing development raises questions

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COLUMBIA - A group of downtown leaders in Columbia raised questions facing the mayor's proposal to delay student housing development downtown.

The ordinance would create an administrative delay for issuing building permits for multi-family housing units. Any building within a one mile radius of a box bound by Elm Street, College Avenue, Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road would not be able to receive a building permit until December 1.

The map below shows the one mile radius with a green circle. The blue circle represents a one half mile radius. 

The Downtown Community Improvement District held a board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposal. The group said the ordinance was too broad and lacked specificity. Katie Essing, the executive director, said those questions needed to be addressed. 

"We're just gonna ask for clarity from the city council and mayor to see if it is intended to be that broad or if potentially some of the smaller developments, apartments would be allowed," Essing said. 

Mayor Brian Treece said he values the input he receives from the Community Improvement District, but the proposal gets the job done while still allowing Columbia to grow.

"This only applies to demolition and construction permits on purpose built student housing," Treece said. "All other construction downtown, all other construction across the city is still encouraged and desirable."

Treece said he expects the ordinance to pass when the city council votes Monday.

"I haven't found anybody in town that says we need more student housing, and I think the vote on Monday is going to reflect that sentiment," Treece said.

The ordinance would become effective immediately if the city council passes it during Monday's meeting.