Residents Petition Against Downtown Development Projects

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COLUMBIA - Community members and activists petitioned to repeal the city's student housing development plan on Saturday. A group of Columbia citizens called Repeal 6214 is trying to collect 4,000 signatures against the city's recent downtown student housing development projects by April 8.

Citizens expressed discontent with the City Council, calling their actions a "speedy process" as more student housing development plans were approved this month.

Community member Peter Yronwoode said, "My major concern is the fact that this was passed through the council in such an unusual and frankly undemocratic way. It certainly feels extremely rushed and inappropriate to move so fast on an issue of such magnitude."

Repeal 6214's spokesperson and attorney Jeremy Root said residents are questioning the credibility of the City Council and their decisions.

"There's a natural cap in credibility when you have such diametrically different views being espoused by our city leaders," Root said.

Opposers of the development plan are also questioning the validity of the April 1 deadline given by city officials.

Root requested supporting documents to prove the validity of the April 1 deadline. He received those documents on March 28 but has yet to go through them.

Regardless of the city's deadline, Root said the group has the April 8 deadline because the charter for Columbia allows 20 days after an ordinance is passed to gather signatures.

Although those who signed the petition on Saturday oppose the development plan, group organizers and community members said they're not opposed to student housing. 

"No one thinks we shouldn't house our students in reasonable housing," said Root. "I think the question is why are we rushing to build more when it's clear that we don't have infrastructure for what we have now."

Some community members noted the hard work the City Council has done thus far. 

Yronwoode said,"They've done a fairly good job meeting some of the requirements criteria even though they are not required to do it. The City Council operates with a kind of collegial mentality and people don't necessarily speak their mind if they feel that somehow it's a minority opinion."

According to resident Kathryn Chadwick, most were satisfied with the process of the first approved development.

"There was one of the three developments that we had known about for a long time, they had done some things to correct some issues," said Chadwick. "For the most part people said 'They've done their due diligence,we should do this.'"

Repeal 2614 will continue to collect signatures for the petition at various public events in Columbia. 

A list of all of their locations and updates can be found on their Facebook and website.