By JEFF DURBIN, Missourian staff writer
March 15, 1999

The Columbia Planning and Development Department has a much bigger staff than it realizes.

About 50 people have taken the city's proposed land-use plan, Metro 2020, back to the drawing board in a series of four public discussions around Columbia during the past two weeks.

Metro 2020 has won praise as a good first step, but some concerns emerged repeatedly at the forums. MU geologist Joe Engeln, one of the discussion organizers, said he observed three: incomplete planning for transportation, environmental impact of development and the prospect of the city enveloping county residents by annexation.

"We're rural people," said Carol Clark, a participant. "We don't want to be part of the city."

Other participants hope the final plan will include more attention to inner-city redevelopment, call for more affordable housing and greater energy efficiency, and protect agricultural land and open space.

Now that the forums are over, the next step is for discussion organizers - a coalition of volunteers from neighborhood, environmental and other groups - to give city and county planners a report compiled from the recent meetings. The report should arrive in time for a public hearing on Metro 2020 before the city Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday.

Winifred Colwill, a member of the League of Women Voters, was one of dozens attending the discussions.

"We're concerned about sprawl and leapfrog development," she said. "We want to save our countryside and farmland. I think a lot of ideas in the plan are good: compact development, mixed use, making more streets interconnected, making biking more feasible."

The City Council launched new land-use policies in the fall of 1997, instructing city planners to create a more flexible plan that promotes a mixture of small-scale commercial and employment centers near neighborhoods. Planners project a metro population of 132,000 people in 2020, up from an estimated 99,000 in 1996.

Suggestions from the public during small-group discussions kept the organizers busy writing.

"I live in town, and I'm very concerned that the old part of town gets attention," Evan Prost said.

"I'd like to see more green space for the public," said Laura Kabrick of the Lake of the Woods subdivision. "There's a lot in the plan, but a lot is golf courses. It's nice to look at the trees, but it's not a place I can walk my dog."

Kristen Kordecki, who lives near Ashland, said she doesn't want to see Columbia sprawl.

"As far as I know, Portland is the only city with an urban growth boundary," Kordecki said. "Columbia could get something like that, and do it effectively."

But Engeln pointed out that density is a classic not-in-my-backyard issue.

"Everybody supports density in principle, but few will support it in their backyard," Engeln said. "They say, 'Wait a minute; I don't want that near me.'"

After Thursday's hearing, the commission will schedule work sessions and possibly further public hearings. The commission may then direct the planning staff to revise the plan, said city planning director John Hancock. Finally, Metro 2020 will go to the City Council for approval.

The city has no self-imposed deadline for final approval of the plan, Hancock said.

Commissioner Lisa Moisey said she will look closely at the community discussion report. Energy efficiency could be a goal of the land-use plan, she said, with the specifics addressed in other documents.

"I think it's something that could be looked at in subdivision regulations," she said.

Outgoing Fifth Ward Councilman Karl Kruse said the plan is a good start in that it involves planning beyond the city limits.

"The most complaints to the City Council, traffic and speeding, are a direct result of our land-use policies," he said. But Kruse added that he was optimistic.

"There's still hope for Columbia," he said.



The Metro Plan

Among the suggestions made by the public at a series of community discussions on the Metro 2020 plan.

Include an agricultural district in the plan.

Study the feasibility of an urban growth boundary.

Enlarge plan goals to include energy efficiency, recycling, open space, environmental quality and affordable housing.

Redevelop older neighborhoods.

Require developers to set aside public park space.

Seek state legislation to enable development impact fees.

Designate stream flood plains as green space.

Increase density by clustering homes and sharing green space.

Preserve the rural character of Boone County.

Improve public transportation.

Include the county's perspective.

Install bicycle racks downtown and in commercial areas.



A Metro 2020 public hearing before the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway.