A Proposed West Columbia Neighborhood Has Neighbors Concerned
A developer wants to build a new neighborhood at Scott Boulevard and Smith Drive on Columbia’s west side with housing, places to walk and shops.
The 45.2-acre development, proposed by Marc Kirchoff, according to business records, was the subject of conversation at a meeting with city planners Tuesday evening at the Daniel Boone Building. Residents who live near the area came to express their worries about traffic increases and new businesses.
The neighborhood, which would be named Westbury Village, would take 14 empty lots and turn them into a “new village market development promoting walk ability, recreation, shops and eateries,” according to the development’s website. Three of the lots would become roughly 124 apartments for single and multiple families and senior living.
Westbury Village concept
The rest of the development would be a mix of recreational sites and businesses.
The businesses, however, would be close to homes, causing light and noise pollution all day long, Sarah Justice said.
Residents also worried about speeding on Rollins Street.
“People can’t read signs,” Doug Stone said. “They can’t read the 25 mph down Rollins now. They fly down Rollins like it’s Scott Boulevard.”
“We heard that Smith wanted humps,” David Melloway added. “We’ve got humps, and the humps we’ve got aren’t humpy enough. We need more hump. Because all they do now is encourage people to catch air.”
The neighborhood usually has kids and families walking and biking around, residents said.
“You’re going to increase traffic volume substantially, and there’s already been a fatal accident,” said Linda Esser, referring to a 2015 incident in which a 48-year-old woman and her son died in a two-vehicle car crash on Scott Boulevard.
Representatives of the developer sought to assure residents that the area would be safe.
“There will be improvements to Smith and Scott,” Matt Kriete, a civil engineer with Engineering Surveys & Services, said.
Kriete stressed that the developer has used traffic analyses to look at different scenarios to make sure the roads could handle the possible increase in the number of cars traveling through the area.
Developers don't yet know what businesses the neighborhood would have, but “if there’s anything that changes traffic, we’re going to be doing the study again,” Kriete said.
“Traffic is always a big concern,” Mark Farnen, the development’s government relations consultant, said.
The developers held multiple information and discussion sessions with neighbors over the past two weeks and have received praise for using a local contractor, committing to landscaping and working with the neighboring school and church, Farnen said.
City regulations also require that at least 25 percent of the existing forest be preserved.
The development is projected to take roughly five years to complete, Kriete said.
Residents will have a chance to speak about the proposal during a public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission's Dec. 6 meeting.
“I have a feeling there’s gonna be some people showing up to that,” Melloway said.
Residents who are unable to attend can also provide feedback to case manager Clint Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.