Neighbors Criticize Subdivision Plan

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COLUMBIA - The plan for a new subdivision being built near Rock Bridge Memorial Park is getting mixed responses, but several are concerned with the impact of the park's preservation.

The City Council approved an amendment Tuesday evening regarding Parkside Estates. The subdivision would back up to Rock Bridge Memorial Park, and many are worried the development will do too much damage to the state park and wildlife.

The ordinance amendments require developers to revise the plan for the subdivision and will now allow the company to build on a maximum of 15 percent impervious land, which is ground where water can not pass through. The ordinance previously allowed the company to build on 23 percent.

The amended proposal was approved by a 5-2 vote.

One member in opposition to the new amendments was councilman Karl Skala. He said he's skeptical about the developers ability to deal with best management practices for storm water quality with such a small amount of impervious surface.

"Whether it's 15, whether it's 20 or whether it's 25, I'm uncomfortable with the idea that we may not be able to deal with storm water quality," he said. "It's such a sensitive area and such a jewel in the park's crown in this region, that I'm not willing to take the risk."

Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park member, Jan Weaver, said the impervious land reduction is an improvement, but still a concern.

"It's just too much storm water for the site to manage without it having some impact on streams," she said. "I was worried that would set a standard for future development."

Weaver's biggest concern is the long term effect on the park.

"When you get much above 8 to 15 percent impervious surface, even best management practices like detention ponds cannot prevent damage to the downstream areas from a development," Weaver said.

The neighborhood will be half a mile south of the Providence, Route K, and Old Plank Road intersection. The proposed subdivision plan currently has 65 total units. Originally, the plan called for 73 lots, but after talking with Missouri State Parks personnel, the company revised the plan.

Development Service Manager for Columbia, Patrick Zenner, said because of the significant reduction in impervious land, the subdivision may reduce the number of units even more.

Neighbors in the area expressed mixed feelings about the development. Some said they were worried about the park's preservation because of the history behind the park. Others said the development shows growth in Columbia.

"I'm still concerned about storm water quality," Skala said. "I didn't want this issue of impervious surface to get in the way of making that analysis."

He said he's in favor of reducing the impervious surface to 15 percent, but he doesn't believe that will solve all problems.

Developers must now make necessary alterations to fit the new requirements and get them approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Once revised and approved, the proposal will return to city council for approval. Skala said he anticipates this taking at least six months.