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EEZ/BLIGHT VOTE TONIGHT: Council to consider packed agenda

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Niedermeyer demolition controversy brings testy attorney letter; parking around Odlesaurus reconfigured
 
COLUMBIA, 1/7/13 (Beat Byte) -- A vote to end what many consider a misguided effort to establish an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in Columbia based on legally-defined blight; and a testy letter from local mega-attorney Wally Bley about the Niedermeyer demolition are among several high-profile items the Columbia City Council will consider at tonight's meeting.
 
Local landlords, downtown residents/merchants, historic preservationists, animal lovers, and neighbors concerned about student housing without adequate parking and infrastructure will want to attend this meeting.
 
Eliminating the EEZ Board -- the last vestige of the Blight Decree -- occurs under Old Business on the Council agenda, as Ordinance B372-12. Eleven months of heated opposition finally prompted REDI -- the measure's chief proponents -- to request the program's end, and instead focus on "other business recruitment, retention, and entrepreneurial efforts."

Demolition and historic preservation are the subjects of Ordinance B359-12, which clarifies and extends the amount of time the Historic Preservation Commission has to review demolition permits. The issue has taken center stage with a controversy about a proposed demolition of the downtown Niedermeyer apartments -- purportedly Columbia's oldest building -- also on tonight's agenda.

That issue has prompted a letter of protest from prominent CoMo attorney Wally Bley, which city staff put front and center on Ordinance B375-12, a law proposed by 6th Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe which would establish a temporary moratorium on downtown demolitions.
 
Calling the bill "unjust and arbitrary," Bley argues that it may also be unconstitutional, singularly directed as it appears to be at his client, Niedermeyer owner Fred Hinshaw. Constitutionality mandates laws ostensibly focused on the community at large not deliberately target single individuals.
 
Like it or not, Bley is right. The Niedermeyer controversy has everything to do with decades of ad hoc, seat-of-the-pants, build it and they will co...oops, need infrastructure planning that has dominated City Hall, much to the delight of Bley's peers who represent big developers. With a guiding plan, City Hall could be avoiding these continual fiascoes, not putting people everywhere in bad positions after the fact. If the Niedermeyer comes down in favor of a 15-story apartment building, Columbia has only its elected overseers and top administrators to blame.

Landlords, tenants, and property managers will want to pay attention to Ordinance B360-12: sweeping new legislation that mandates disclosure of rental occupants and -- in what some are calling an Orwellian over-reach -- the handover of "all lease, rental payment, tenant information, and zoning disclosures" to police officers and building inspectors investigating "any code violation" on a rental property.

"Tenant information includes credit and background checks. Will they want that, too?" a local property manager asked. The new law, if passed, will represent the most significant change in local landlord/tenant law in Columbia in years.

Parking meters and parking permits are coming to the North Village Arts District, besieged with student housing and a flood of parked cars. Ordinance B366-12 establishes 2 and 10-hour metering and resident parking permits for the area around Orr, Park, Walnut, and College Avenues, facetiously known as the Lair of the Odlesaur (Odlesaurus apartmenti), a Jurassic-sized species of Columbia student housing and distant cousin of Garagezilla (Autosaurus oversizus).
 
With two appropriations at tonight's meeting, City Hall will once again be getting a steal of a deal for animal control services from the Central Missouri Humane Society. Where other communities spend into the low millions on animal control shelters, veterinary services, and stray animal housing/vaccinations/treatment, Columbia will spend just $123,528 under Resolution R 5-13. For another $20,000 under Resolution R 6-13, CMHS is agreeing to a vast array of additional services. By contrast, the city spent $3 million on the GetAbout program for "web design, multimedia, and a sub-contract with PedNet."
 
City vendors may be interested in Council Bill B5-13, which would increase the amount city purchasers must put out to bid for goods and services from $1,000 to $5,000. Builders, developers, and other permit seekers should be aware of Council Bill B7-13, which eliminates a requirement that certain documents be filed with the City Clerk.

Tonight's packed Council agenda will be discussed, debated, bloviated, and voted upon at 7 pm, Daniel Boone Building City Hall downtown. Old Business items normally allow for public commentary; Consent Agenda items are automatic. The public may also comment at the the end of each meeting.
 
LINKS:
 
Council Agenda for Monday, January 7, 2013 -- 7 pm
 
Ending the Blight Decree/EEZ
 
Wally Bley attorney letter on Niedermeyer demolition
Demolition abeyance proposal
 
Demolition permits and historic preservation
 
Landlords and rental occupancy law
 
Parking permits and meters around Odlesaurus
 
Humane Society contracts
 
City bidding rule change
 
City Clerk filings
 
 
 
 
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