Planning & Zoning Commission to Review Controversial Proposal

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COLUMBIA - Thursday night the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will give input on a controversial proposal for the downtown area.

Director of the Columbia Department of Community Development, Timothy Teddy, outlined a community improvement proposal. The main points include restricting building heights, requiring some residential buildings first floors to be used for businesses. Also, residential buildings would have to provide downtown parking.

Gary Stentz, a resident at The Lofts said it's hard to find parking, "I feel like any new building in the downtown area should probably be built with parking. It's a big hassle not having enough parking."

In an agenda summary the Planning and Zoning Commission said new buildings and expansions of existing buildings must provide residents with parking.  However, for historical preservation purposes, any building 50 years or older would be exempt.

The exemption includes the Belvedere apartments, which are 85 years old. The apartment manager, Joe Doles, said he understands the need for parking, "I do see an increase with parking demand with all the new construction downtown."

The city also wants to limit building construction to 10 stories or 120 feet, currently there are no limits.

The commission will look at the proposal for a first floor non-residential requirement. It would require all new residential buildings to dedicate the first floor to commercial use. However, that only applies to sections of the first floor that are street facing.

The proposal also notes the first floor requirement would be especially important on Broadway from Providence Road to Hitt Street and on Ninth Street.