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Columbia City Council approves new zoning code, airline incentives

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved a new set of zoning regulations, giving a massive overhaul to the city’s current rules.

The 7-0 vote put in place a unified development ordinance, re-writing the zoning codes for Columbia. Those rules dictate what people can build where.

The new rules rename many existing zoning codes for businesses and multi-family housing units while also giving extra rules for those properties to abide by if built next to a residential lot. Those “neighborhood protections” made up a large part of the public debate Monday. A property next to a single-family home or duplex will need a 20-foot setback and can’t build the structure more than 30 feet tall. Many property owners spoke Monday about the burdens they felt these rules put on them and others.

The council rejected councilman Karl Skala’s amendment to extend that protection to multi-family housing units, which previously went by the R-3 designation.

Council members agreed that while the code may have its flaws, the years of work and months of public input created a good code to apply fairly to all new construction. Michael Trapp said it added consistency to the process, which he felt was lacking in previous decisions to re-zone land for various projects. Mayor Brian Treece called the code a needed overhaul to the “outdated” version in place.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will still discuss the pending amendments to the code.

The council also approved a package of incentives for United Airlines, which will start offering flights to and from Columbia in August. The deal includes $600,000 in guaranteed revenue in its first year at Columbia Regional Airport. The agreement also waives rent for United Airlines at the terminal as well as landing fees for its round-trip Denver route. Regional Economic Development, Inc. director Stacey Button told the council that private donations would make up part of the guaranteed $600,000.

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