Written by Mike Martin
Motion passes to draft resolution rescinding map that blights 60% of Columbia
COLUMBIA, 4/22/12 (Beat Byte) -- In a stunning reversal that recognizes the power of engaged, organized citizens, Columbia City Council members Monday night voted unanimously to draft a Resolution "un-blighting" the city and an Ordinance that would put the Blight Decree process much more into the hands of the public.
Forceful -- and this time, mostly uninterrupted -- 5th Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony made a motion -- designed to add several layers of public hearings -- that would transform the EEZ/Blight legislation from the Resolution Council members passed Feb. 6 into a city Ordinance.
An ordinance has the full weight of law and requires much more public involvement. Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe immediately seconded the motion. "I can see distinct advantages to having three public hearings," Mrs. Hoppe explained.
The Council move, which came during staff report REP68-12 on the EEZ, signaled recognition of a key point made by Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia (CiViC): that Blight Decree proponents, including REDI -- a City Hall department staffed by business lobbyists -- erred when they urged Council members to pass a Resolution instead of an Ordinance. The Resolution process does not allow for significant public engagement, as CiViC member Jeremy Root, an attorney who specializes in government affairs, explained during the public discussion that followed.
"The citizens of Columbia are an engaged citizenry," Mrs. Anthony explained. "We're not Springfield and everyplace else that has just signed off on the EEZ. I don't think we've given this blight map certification process the justice or due course eagerly being sought by the citizens of Columbia."