This coming spring, much of the land near Columbia Regional Airport won’t be covered in corn.
Instead, contruction workers will descend on the land to begin building a sewer collection system extension for Ashland.
Ashland Mayor Gene Rhorer said a few years ago, the city passed a bond issue for a seven million dollar waste water facility and collection system because the growing system needed something that wasn’t small and out of date.
“We had no idea at the time that we would be extending to Hummingbird Properties,” he said.
Hummingbird Properties is one of MidwayUSA founder Larry Potterfield’s companies.
Potterfield and his wife bought nearly 500 acres of land near the airport as farmland, but now he’s hoping to give back to the city by offering it for development.
“Brenda and I are not developers and don’t have a particular profit motive or fast timeline for this property,” Potterfield said in an email. “We want to control it just enough to ensure that what is developed there is something that would be good for Ashland, the Airport, Columbia and the Central Missouri community.”
Potterfield said the timing was “a perfect storm” situation.
Rhorer elaborated, saying between the additions of an Ameren gas line, Boone County water facilities and the Ashland sewer collection system on the property, it was just good timing.
Potterfield said he’s nearly finished working with the city on a plan to extend the city’s sewer collection system to his farmland and then develop it as retail space.
In the agreement, Potterfield and the city would pay the 3.2 million dollar extension together.
Rhorer said the extension means there would be more users on the sewer system.
He said more users would lower the rates for the city and attract homeowners to the area, especially since the city just built hundreds of new homes.
In the agreement, Potterfield requested there be about 15,000 gallons of water usage per day and a hold of 50,000 gallons per day for future use.
“15,000 gallons per day is a lot of usage,” Rhorer said. “A single-family home will use roughly about 5,000 gallons per month.”
Lyn Woolford, who acts as Ashland Police Chief and City Administrator, said he believes getting some more retail space within the city limits would be a huge boost for the city.
“We have busy areas, but there’s very few,” he said. “Ashland has seen a reduction in sales tax, which is basically our general fund operating money,” he said. “It supports police, office staff, the park.”
“We just don’t have the retail,” said Rhorer. “So our budget’s pretty tough and it’s pretty tight.”
Right now, there aren’t any specific businesses going in.
Potterfield suggested there could be a motel and convenience store in the northwest corner of the land.
He declined to comment on the rumor of a Cabela’s setting up shop but Rhorer said he hopes to have some light industrial business.
“Light industrial non smokestack will entice retail, restaurants, motel type businesses as a side effect,” he said.
City leaders are hopeful the new retail spaces within the city limits will get the city out of its sales tax funk.
“In general, it’s just good for the community, people that live around Ashland, as well as our residents,” Woolford said.
“This will grow Ashland in what I believe is the right direction,” said Rhorer.
Rhorer said it would be the largest development that Ashland has ever had and would nearly double the size of the growing city.
Woolford mentioned that he would like to see a possible substation or something similar built in the area, since the retail space would greatly increase their patrol area.
Potterfield hopes to begin serious construction on the sewer system in the spring, and then