COLUMBIA, Mo 3/28/14 (Beat Byte) -- Citing lack of due process and overwhelming public opposition, a Columbia citizens group calling itself Repeal 6214 wants to throttle back a divided City Council vote approving Opus Development's six story student apartment building downtown.
The group has established a Facebook page, website, and list of locations to collect roughly 4,000 verifiable voter signatures by April 6th. Signature-gathering activities include a pizza fest and Notary party tomorrow (Saturday) at Mojo's from 3-4 pm.
A downloadable petition is at this link. The group is seeking volunteers, with upcoming events listed below.
Signatures in hand, "we will either be successful in repealing this development agreement if the Council votes to repeal it OR this issue will be placed on the November 2014 ballot to be decided by the people of the city," the group explains.
Known as Columbia City Ordinance 62-14, the 4-3 Council decision approved one of three downtown-area student apartments that together would add 1,335 new units to an already bulging rental inventory. Council members tabled the largest project, 718 units from American Campus Communities (ACC), until the second week of May. A third project from Collegiate Housing Partners was unopposed, and sailed to approval on a unanimous Council vote.Repeal 6214 draws from a chorus of opposition to the unusual -- if not unprecedented -- way city manager Mike Matthes represented the projects and scheduled hearings about them. After a 5-2 Council vote defeated the TIF district he championed to pay for downtown infrastructure, Matthes and deputy city manager Tony St. Romaine insisted City Hall would approve no further downtown developments until the city could finance some $20 million of water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure.
Then -- as if by sleight of hand -- the two men thrust the ACC and Opus developments on the Council's agenda, during a policy-making "retreat" that had unpaid Council members tired and bleary-eyed. The hasty approval schedule -- introduced on Wednesday, March 12 at a noon "special" Council meeting; offered for public testimony Monday, March 17; and approved after more public testimony at another "special" noontime meeting two days later -- prompted charges of foul-play.
"You're letting yourself seem like you're doing something wrong," Mizzou journalism professor Clyde Bentley told Council members. "You may not be, but your credibility is shot."
To help gather signatures, contact Deanna Walkenbach, Dwalken8 at aol.com, show up at an event, or visit the group's Facebook page.
Repeal 6214 Signature Gathering Events
1) Saturday, March 29, Farmer's Market at the ARC, 8:00 a.m. to noon
2) Saturday, Pizza and Notary Party (to notarize petitions) at Mojo's, 3-4 pm
3) Sunday, outside downtown coffee shops and churches. Meet at Sacred Heart Church, 9:30 a.m.
4) Ragtag Cinema between shows and intermissions
5) Monday, March 31, 5:00 to 6:30, City Hall lobby
6) Tuesday, April 1, 5:30 pm, in City Hall lobby
7) Tuesday, 6:30 to 8:00, outside old City Hall lobby area during Most Notable Historic Properties event
8) Wednesday, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Tons of Trucks at Target parking lot
9) Thursday, CATSO meeting, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. City Hall, Room 1A
10) Saturday, April 5th, Kite Flying Day in Douglass Park, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.
11) Team canvassing neighborhoods around Mizzou campus, especially Benton Stephens and S. Garth, Thilly, Edgewood, Stewart Road, Aldeah, W. Walnut, Anderson, Alexander, and every other neighborhood within City Limits.
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