"We've started a ballot initiative signature drive to rescind the City of Columbia Blight/Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) resolution," explains a CiViC pamphlet. "There are many opinions and concerns, but everyone seems to agree the Blight/EEZ resolution must be fully rescinded."
The Mid City Redevelopment Project of 1963 and Flat Branch Redevelopment Project of 1978-81 used blight decrees to establish Land Clearance Authorities for eminent domain around Columbia's downtown and Flat Branch areas. To overcome stubborn city councils, citizens took both efforts directly to voters, who soundly defeated them.
A third redevelopment push, the Douglass School Urban Renewal Project of 1956-66, targeted the black community near Douglass High School and the old Sharp End, where the Columbia Daily Tribune building now stands. That effort successfully used blight and eminent domain against some 115 black-owned businesses and nearly 500 families.
This time around, nearly 60% of Columbia was officially blighted to qualify for the EEZ, a Missouri tax abatement program.
Ordinances, on the other hand, are laws, and follow a multi-step procedure that includes public hearings, various City Council readings, and a long consideration process. Emails reveal that REDI, the Blight Decree's main proponent, repeatedly pushed to get it passed as a Resolution, by-passing public involvement.
CiViC will be at the Columbia Public Library to take ballot initiative signatures from registered voters at these times and at other areas around town:
Monday April 9, (5-7pm)
Tuesday April 10, (5-7pm)
Wednesday April 11, (5-7pm)
Thursday April 12, (3-5pm)
*This writer is a member of CiViC.