Residents upset after Ridegmont development plan withdrawn

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COLUMBIA – Several residents in the Ridgefield neighborhood are upset after a development plan they had been working on for months was withdrawn.

The plan to build a high-density residential area on Ridgemont Road was withdrawn suddenly Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled Thursday planning and zoning commission meeting.

Earlier in the year, Pate-Jones Construction had asked that the 12.34-acre land be rezoned to accommodate plans to build 35 single-family attached homes that would be triplexes and quadplexes. The development would be far different from the surrounding single-family neighborhood.

Kim Kraus, a neighborhood coordinator of County House Greenspace, and members of the Ridgefield Neighborhood Association, said residents had several concerns about the development at first.

“We had a list of 12 changes we wanted to see in the initial plan,” Kraus said. “And Pate-Jones was very receptive to all of our requests and concerns and worked to accommodate what we wanted.”

However, on Thursday, Sep. 15, Tim Crockett, partner at Crockett Engineering and head of the plan, emailed City of Columbia Development Services Manager Patrick Zenner, that his applicant wanted to withdraw the zoning request.

He wrote, “I would like to take this opportunity to request that the PUD rezoning application and PUD Plan for Ridgemont Park be withdrawn for consideration by the City of Columbia. The applicant desires to extend their appreciation to you and your staff for the time spent on this project over the last 8 months.”

The positive relationship between Pate-Jones and the Ridgefield residents is why residents are scratching their heads about what went wrong.

“We came to an agreement that seemed like all of the parties were happy with,” Kraus said.

Kraus wrote in an email to Zenner, “I believe the owner is withdrawing the request because of comments from Community Development that caught everyone off guard.”

Kraus said she thinks it all went downhill when city staff made their final comments on the revised final plan.

“They made their final comments about the number of units, that it should be lower and the developer said the amount of units were as low as it can be,” Kraus said. “The developers felt they had no choice but to withdraw the project.”

However, Kraus said she doesn’t think the amount of units is the only reason the plan was withdrawn, but she would not elaborate on those suspicions. Regardless, she said residents hope the city and developers will work through it.

“There has been a large contingent of neighbors on all sides of the property that know that the planned development that we’ve had out input on and our concerns addressed is going to be better than something that we have no input on,” Kraus said. “We’re hoping this one piece could be worked out to the city’s satisfaction and the development can still go through.”