After a lengthy process, Columbia City Council unanimously passed the Unified Development CodeMonday night. The Code sets the standards for zoning and development in the city. The council hopes it will ensure the city’s growth remains in check.
The council passed the regulations after several meetings and public hearings. Council members had listened to public comment from various Columbia residents.
Council members had been unsure whether to extend the decision to another council meeting to properly decide on the proposed amendments to the code. Council member Laura Nauser expressed her wish for the decision not to be rushed despite her term ending in early April. However, after careful debate, the council defeated the amendments and were able to pass the Code.
“Of all the seven years on the council,” said councilman, Karl Skala, “this by far, is the most important (vote) I’ve ever taken.”
Many members of the public raised their issues to the council. One common issue lay in some residents’ properties losing their value. Another concern was to ensure parking availability matched the city’s growing infrastructure.
Some were unhappy with how the process of the devising the Unified Development Code had been carried out. Professor of Management at the University of Missouri, Tim Wade claimed there was a lack of transparency in the council’s methods in creating the code. He claimed “the process is broken.”
It is a “complicated” issue, according to Skala and said there was “no crystal ball” to see what the future holds for Columbia. However, Skala did express a wish for the code to be harmonised with the Fire Code of Columbia.
“It is a living document,” said councilman Clyde Ruffin, believing the standards aproved that night would not be set in stone. The council agreed a review of the city and the code would be necessary in the future to iron out any problems which might arise.