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Few weigh in on Columbia development code overhaul

Only two people lent their thoughts on Columbia’s 400-page zoning overhaul.

The Columbia City Council held the first of four public hearings on the city’s unified development code, a re-write of Columbia’s zoning rules and definitions. Hearings will take place Saturday morning and at the two regularly scheduled city council meetings in March.

Residents are allowed one chance to share their opinion on the code until the final hearing on March 20. Speakers are allowed six minutes during the public hearing, double the usual amount of time people can speak at the council meetings.

Two people signed up beforehand to speak despite a nearly-full city council chamber Monday night. Tim Waid, a property owner in the East Campus neighborhood, said the “neighborhood protections” section would hurt property owners more than help. The rules would require properties built next to single-family residential lots to meet certain criteria like building height and design.

“They increase rent prices, they slow economic growth,” Waid said. “And that is not what we want to accomplish in our new zoning codes.”

Some residents of older neighborhoods sought the extra protections of single-family zoning. The council approved a downzoning for 35 properties in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood during Monday’s meeting, with property owners citing the protections as a major factor.

Peter Ironwood, a former resident of the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, said the protections would help keep the “character” of those areas. The ability for people to walk and park cars easily are kept intact by protections against the development of multi-family housing.

“All those characteristics are really endangered by large, multi-unit development,” Ironwood said.

The council will hold another hearing Saturday at 9 a.m.

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