Packed City Council agenda includes land use issues, roundabout plans, community policing


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It appears Monday night will be a long one for the Columbia City Council.

The evening is scheduled to start with a conversation about whether to enter an agreement with Boone County to build a sports fieldhouse at the Central Missouri Events Center, formerly the Boone County Fairgrounds. That talk will happen at a 6 p.m. work session. The agenda for the council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. includes controversial land use issues, plans for a roundabout at Keene Street and I-70 Drive Southeast, and discussions of community policing and racial disparities in vehicle stops.

Fairground property

The council at its work session will continue its talks about whether to build a sports fieldhouse at the former fairground. Boone County is considering a deal to redevelop the property with the not-for-profit Mid-Missouri Sports Park, headed by Columbia orthopedic surgeon Matt Thornbur.

Boone County bought the 134-acre fairground in 1999 for $2.8 million. Along with the annual Boone County Fair, it hosted occasional knife and gun shows, horse shows and other events. Plans to redevelop the land have never come to fruition. The county renamed the fairground the Central Missouri Events Center but shut it down after voters in 2014 rejected a sales tax to maintain and redevelop the site.The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department had planned to use park sales money to fund a $3.7 million fieldhouse at A. Perry Philips Park in southeast Columbia, but it asked the council in January to hold off on the project and consider building at the fairground instead.Boone County commissioners are scheduled to attend the work session, which will begin with an open session and then move to a closed meeting to discuss real estate matters.

Public comment

Toward the beginning of its regular meeting, the council will hear from several residents during public comment. toward the beginning of the meeting One topic will be City Manager Mike Matthes’ remarks at the Jan. 11 Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast, which have drawn both criticism and praise.

Suzanne Bagby of Race Matters, Friends is scheduled to talk about the speech. Columbia NAACP President Mary Ratliff also has scheduled time to offer her support of the remarks. Also under scheduled public comment, Lynn Maloney is scheduled to talk about police training, while Sara Senff will address the council about race and police policies.

Brushwood Lake Road annexation

The council’s first public hearing of the night will be about a request by NGT, Inc. that the city annex about 10 acres of vacant property at the northwest corner of Brushwood Lake Road and Scott Boulevard, south of the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail. The annexation would allow a connection to the city’s utilities and sewers, according to a memo from city staff.

NGT plans to sell the land and is asking that the city zone it as a mixed-use neighborhood (M-N) district. This would allow for development of small businesses.The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-4 on the request in December; the tied vote means it provided no recommendation. The council is not scheduled to vote on the request Monday.

Keene Street roundabout

A proposed roundabout at Keene Street and I-70 Drive Southeast will also be the subject of a public hearing and vote. Six crashes have occurred at the intersection since 2011, according to a staff memo to the council. The goal of the project is “to improve safety and alleviate traffic congestion.”

The area around the intersection includes a grocery store, hotels and medical offices, and the roundabout would provide a safer crosswalk for pedestrians, according to the memo. Additional bike lane marking would be part of the project. The estimated cost is $831,700. Half the estimated construction cost of $652,240 would come from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The rest would come from the city’s capital improvements sales tax. Construction wouldn’t begin until 2021.

Medical marijuana

The council also is expected to vote on a resolution supporting statewide legalization of medical marijuana. Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp brought a draft resolution to the council in November for discussion, and it was tabled again in December.

The measure expresses the city’s support for legalizing both the use and growth of medical marijuana, which Trapp said would help battle the opioid epidemic. The resolution also encourages support for an initiative petition on medical marijuana that New Approach Missouri hopes to place on the November ballot.During the past few years, the idea of legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri has garnered support from the Columbia/Boone County Board of Health, the city’s Commission on Human Rights and the Columbia Disabilities Commission.

Vandiver Drive rezoning

A request by Last Enterprises, LLC, to rezone about 8 acres at Vandiver Drive and Mexico Gravel Road is up for a vote by the council. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-1 in December to recommend approval of the request.

Residents along Mexico Gravel Road worried at the commission meeting that industrial uses of the property would harm the environment and undermine their neighborhood. Representatives of Last Enterprises, however, said the property would be used only for light industry.Solar power contract

A contract under which the city would buy $28.8 million worth of solar energy from Truman Solar over the next 30 years also is on the agenda. The contract authorizes Truman Solar to build a solar field just south of I-70 Drive Southeast and east of St. Charles Road. As part of the deal, the city would spend $1.4 million to connect the solar field to the Rebel Hill electric substation.

The purchase would contribute 1.9 percent to the city’s goal of having a quarter of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2023. About 12.35 percent of Columbia’s electricity comes from renewable sources now. The solar field would be operational by April 1, 2019.

Community policing

A revised draft of a resolution declaring the council’s support for community-oriented policing appears in the “reports” section of the council’s agenda. Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas submitted the previous draft at the council’s Jan. 16 meeting, but his colleagues called for some revisions and for additional public comment.

The original resolution called for Matthes to come up with a specific plan for making the transition to community policing by June 30.

The revised version would extend that deadline to Aug. 31, andThe revised measure also calls for Matthes to create an evaluation strategy “that will ensure accountability” in addition to a finished plan, timeline and budget for the transition.

It also calls for “anti-racism training” for police and for a specific effort to gather input from residents who have experienced “racial disproportions” in traffic stops and searches.The council plans to vote on the resolution Feb. 19.

Vehicle stops feedback

The council will discuss the feedback it has received on its Vehicle Stops and Listening Tour Summary Report. The report came in response to the Missouri attorney general’s 2016 study on the racial disparities in police traffic stops.

The report initially came to the council in November, but the discussion was pushed back to allow time for the public to review the report and provide feedback. The city encouraged feedback through social media, a link on its website and other methods.

The city received 17 responses online and one through email. It also received a 29-page response from Empower Missouri, an organization that advocates for equality, and public comment on Dec. 4 from Andrew Twaddle, MU professor of qualitative social research.

Missourian reporters Claire Harman, Margaret Austin, Madison Czopek, Andrew Douglas, Yue Yu, Kennedy Simone and Hannah Archambault contributed to this report.

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