By JEFF DURBIN, Missourian staff writer

February, 3, 1999


Most people by now are tired of hearing "bridge to the 21st century," but Columbia city planners are busy formulating one.

They call it the Metro 2020 Plan, and you can learn about their vision -- at least a draft vision -- of the future tonight.

The public is invited to an open house from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. on the mezzanine of the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway. Staff from the Department of Planning and Development will be on hand to show a preview of the plan and answer questions.

Fifth Ward Councilman Karl Kruse said the City Council called for a new land-use plan in fall 1997 to encourage better development in Columbia.

"The current way that we do land planning just didn't provide flexibility," Kruse said. "We want to encourage compact development rather than sprawl development."

This is the first chance for Columbians to speak their mind about the plan. Next will be a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 18. The city will seek further input as needed.

City planning director John Hancock said the plan is mainly based on land-use policies already in place in Columbia. Metro 2020 is a synthesis of the department's best ideas.

"We're not reinventing the wheel," Hancock said.

The Columbia metro area will grow to about 132,000 people in 2020, the department estimates. That's an increase of 33 percent from the 1996 population of 99,136. With that growth in mind, the Metro 2020 Plan seeks to:

* Avoid sprawl by increasing density in new as well as existing development.

* Keep downtown strong as a retail, cultural and educational center for mid-Missouri.

* Preserve neighborhood identities.

* Spread commercial zones through the city.

* Reduce car traffic; boost public transit as well as bicycle and pedestrian use.

* Increase greenspace from 1.7 to two acres per 100 people, with greenbelts along Bear, Hinkson and other area creeks.

Those who can't attend the open house may get copies of the plan at the city building or from the World Wide Web at