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MESSING WITH TEXAS: CoMo Mayor's MidwayUSA threat another false ruse, records suggest

COLUMBIA, Mo 11/26/14 (Beat Byte) -- Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid's remark that arms supply dealer  MidwayUSA might move to Texas if city officials fail to construct a sewer line to the firm's property west of town is another ruse to mislead voters and fellow Council members, records suggest. 

MidWayUSA has its own private sewer and wastewater treatment system, and as late as March of this year, city officials were uncertain if the firm would even be interested in connecting to Coiumbia's "Henderson Branch Sewer Line" proposed for the nearby city of Midway. 

The $2.6 million sewer line "would probably be capable of serving Perche Creek Golf Course and MidwayUSA, both of which currently use small onsite wastewater treatment systems," Columbia development services manager Patrick Zenner told the Columbia Business Times (CBT).   "Those property owners ultimately will decide whether to hook up to the main trunk line Columbia will be building because the city cannot require it."

The March CBT article reflected similar uncertainty about the entire Henderson Branch project, making clear city officials made no promises or even suggestions to Midway area business owners or MidWayUSA owner Larry Potterfield, whom McDavid told Council members at last Monday's meeting might relocate his firm out of state if the sewer extension failed to materialize. 

"Plans for expanding Columbia’s western border are more nebulous," CBT reported.  "Ultimately, the Midway sewer line will extend Columbia’s western border, though it’s unclear exactly when or by how much.   Design work on the project is scheduled to begin next year, so the line’s exact route has not yet been decided, Columbia engineering supervisor Steve Hunt says." 

Plans to spend more money on Columbia's aging central city sewer systems and less money on expanding sewers to outlying areas prompted McDavid's remarks, which may be the latest City Hall ruse designed to satisfy Columbia's powerful development lobby.   

Developers have for decades pressured City Hall to fund infrastructure to new subdivisions built on inexpensive -- and cheaply-taxed -- farmland, often in areas that must be annexed into the city from Boone County. 

The development lobby is bound to resist any efforts to change that dynamic, as the pro-developer Mayor's threat suggests. "If we let this one slip away, this will be a sad, sad day in Boone County’s history," McDavid said about MidwayUSA.

Potterfield, meanwhile, declined to elaborate, only telling the Tribune he had been in touch with Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Perry's office provided no confirmation of the Mayor's remarks, either.   
Public testimony at a 2009 meeting of the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission marveled at the capacity of MidwayUSA's private sewer system to treat the firm's wastewater.   Commissioners were considering Potterfield's request to rezone three acres on W. Van Horn Tavern Rd. from commercial to industrial.  

"Water service is provided by Consolidated Public Water District No.1," the minutes note.  "Sewer is provided by an on-site commercial wastewater facility under DNR/Health Dept. permit."

"I have always been puzzled by how large enterprises like this that aren’t connected to the major sewer lines are able to get by with their sewer systems," said Van Horn Tavern Rd. resident Pat Dougherty.   "I guess that is up to the Health Department and DNR, which satisfies me."

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