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Columbia council approves new Opus agreement

A controversial downtown development project will move forward after the Columbia city council voted to approve a new agreement with Opus Development Company Monday night.

It’s an issue that has been controversial since it was passed in March. Now an amendment to the 260 bed project has been approved 5-1.

Some residents say continuing forward with the project is not what Columbia needs.

“I embrace growth,” said Columbia resident Jeremy Root. “I think it’s a good thing for Columbia, but having sewage flowing down our streets and into our streams is not smart growth.”

City Manager Mike Matthes has said before the sewer system downtown needs millions of dollars in work.

First Ward councilwoman Ginny Chadwick said she is working to do just that.

“I am putting the project through due process and making the city put sewers as a top priority,” Chadwick said.

But there are some who feel this development project has moved forward too quickly.

“It seems as though this agreement has been approved before it has been approved and that troubles me,” Root said.

Chadwick said backing out of a legal contract would be a costly decision.

“Opus has a legal contract so they have the ability to sue us for the amount they’ve invested in the project and fro potentially lost revenue,” she said.

Those who support the project told ABC 17 News that enrollment at the University of Missouri continues to grow and student housing is a need.

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