Columbia council introduces apartment repeal bills

Columbia's city council will consider two measures to repeal a controvesial downtown apartment proposal.

Columbiaâ??s City Council will introduce two bills Monday night that would rescind a controversial decision to approve a downtown apartment development.

Mayor Bob McDavid told KRCG 13 the first bill asks the city council to rescind the decision. If it does not, the second bill will ask Columbia voters as prescribed by the city code. The legislation comes after city officials certified a petition that called on city leaders to repeal a measure that approved an apartment building for a lot at Seventh and Locust downtown. The projectâ??s developer, Opus Development, envisions a six-story apartment building catering to students.

The council originally approved the development back in March, triggering a public outcry over infrastructure concerns and that bodyâ??s decision to fast-track approval of the proposal. First Ward councilwoman Ginny Chadwick introduced a slightly modified development agreement in May, which the council approved on its usual two-week timetable. That measure repealed the councilâ??s original decision but left the main parts of the agreement with Opus intact.

The legislation currently before the council would repeal the original agreement with Opus but not the version Chadwick developed. Jeremy Root, a Columbia attorney who led the original â??Repeal 62-14â?? effort, told KRCG 13 he is trying to get the revised agreement repealed as well. He said the councilâ??s actions are interfering with the repeal process. As for the development itself, Root said he would support it if the buildingâ??s first floor was opened up for commercial use and Opus put forth additional money toward sewer improvements around the building. The company is currently pledging about $450,000 for water and sewer improvements.

Root said that contribution â??will make it so that the sewage flowing from that building flows more efficiently into an already overloaded sewer main.â??

Prior to Chadwickâ??s move, Opus had threatened a breach of contract lawsuit against the city if the original development agreement was repealed. McDavid said he did not know what sort of liability the city would face now, and that ambiguity was one of the things that bothered him most. He said he did not like the idea of walking away from an offer to help with the cityâ??s sewer infrastructure.

â??If the ordinances are repealed, what will be repealed is our ability to receive supplemental infrastructure money in downtown Columbia,â?? he said.

Root said Columbia residents have taken as much interest in his second repeal petition as the original one. He said he is confident city staff will certify it as well.