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STAFF SNEAK? Public hearing notice leaves out eminent domain threat

But description complete in all other ways

COLUMBIA, 5/16/13 (Beat Byte) -- An eminent domain threat that has loomed large in the debate about how to widen Providence Road has been left out of a public hearing notice that provides otherwise complete details about three road-improvement options.

The notice also lists the options out of numerical order, with the most controversial first, the previously rescinded Option IX. The moves remind of other subtle -- and not-so-subtle -- senior city administrator attempts to manipulate the hearing process.

Against opposition from Columbia public works director John Glascock and a group of Grasslands residents, Columbia City Council members on April 15 rescinded Option IX -- a two-phase, nearly $7 million road-widening project that includes demolition of eight historic homes on Providence, across from the University of Missouri.

Now, the first phase of Option IX is back -- and out of order. It comes before Option VIII-A, preferred by historic preservationists and many Council members, but last on the public hearing list. The options are listed 9, 10, 8 instead of 8, 9, 10.

The paragraph-long description of Option IX also fails to mention that should homeowners not sell at a price acceptable to City Hall, eminent domain will be used to acquire 903 S. Providence and 905 S. Providence.
 
The stately homes are respectively owned by Mizzou Vice Chancellor of Research Robert Duncan and his wife, Annette Sobel, M.D., a physician and former National Guard major general; and Christopher Pascucci, a long-time Columbia resident who owns several properties in the Grasslands.

The Tribune described Option IX this way in a recent story:

"The first phase includes the construction of a new road between Bingham and Burnam roads, the removal of a traffic signal at Providence and Rollins Street and the installation of traffic lights on Providence at Burnam and Turner Avenue. It also includes eliminating access to Providence from Bingham and creating a right-turn lane from Providence onto Stadium that would begin at Brandon. That phase would build over the sites of two houses along Providence and a vacant lot owned by John Ott, a local developer and a member of the Grasslands Neighborhood Association who has helped to push the project."

Compare that description to the one here:
http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=9071

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