Another development approval under fire

COLUMBIA, Mo 4/23/14 (Beat Byte) -- More allegations of state law and City Charter violations have landed on Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid's desk, this time from attorneys at a St. Louis-based environmental law center. 

A controversial ordinance that would have approved the Parkside Estates subdivision next to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park violates a City Charter requirement that no bill contain more than one subject, claims attorney Kathleen G. Henry, president of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.   "Missouri State Law also prohibits bills from containing more than one subject," Henry wrote in an April 21 letter to McDavid and the City Council.  

Like a Congressional bill loaded with pork, Ordinance B229-13 "contains four or five subjects," Henry explained:  annexation; rezoning; preliminary approval of the subdivision; a variance from a developer-installed sidewalk requirement; and permission to increase the impervious (asphalt or concrete-covered) surface area in the development.    

"Many citizens might have been in support of annexation of the property, but against the use of the property as a subdivision," Henry wrote.   "Their representatives would not have been able to vote accordingly." 

Henry urged Council members to table a Monday night vote on a second ordinance -- B65-14 -- that would have granted final approval to Parkside, a 49-house subdivision adjacent to the state park which has repeatedly come under fire over environmental  concerns. 

"Because the City Council gave preliminary approval to the Parkside Estates development in B229-13, and because B229-13 violates both the Columbia City Charter and Missouri State Law, it would be improvident for the Council to vote on B65-14 at tonight’s meeting," Henry explained.   "The preliminary approval was void and therefore there can be no final approval."
Council members instead defeated B65-14 on a 4-3 vote, amidst concerns about proximity to the park; a Clean Water Act violation; and too much stormwater runoff, which will carry fertilizers, oil leaks, gasoline, and other contaminants once the subdivision is occupied.