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Neighborhood leader hinges hope on city council rejection of new subdivision

Neighborhood leader hinges hope on...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Kim Kraus said working with Pate-Jones and Crockett Engineering had been "fantastic."

Despite their plan to build a 25-home subdivision within 12 acres of land off Ridgemont Drive, Kraus said the two have always involved nearby residents into their plans.

Kraus, a decade-long resident of Ridgefield Road and head of the Ridgefield Park Neighborhood Association, became aware of the Ridgemont Park plan in early 2016. At the time, developers would have built a new cul-de-sac named Coachlamp Court, off Ridgemont Drive for numerous four-plexes. Emails ABC 17 News obtained showed Kraus, the developers and the city worked often to find common ground on the re-zoning request and eventual layout of the neighborhood. While she raised numerous concerns, such as the potential use of the homes as rental units, she felt the plan worked, so long as they didn't extend her street through the subdivision.

But in September, engineer Tim Crockett told city councilman Ian Thomas they would be withdrawing the request, over city staff and Thomas' fears of a too-dense development.

The Columbia City Council will not consider the Ridgemont Park neighborhood that includes a feature residents, including Kraus, spoke in force against last Thursday - an extension of Ridgefield Road through the subdivision up to Ridgemont Dr. Kraus said an approval may cause her, and others, to move.

"We bought the home simply on the reliance that it was just a cul-de-sac street," Kraus told ABC 17 News about her home in the 2300 block of Ridgefield Rd. "I don't want to live on a busy street. Why would you?"

Ridgemont and Ridgefield ranked 11th and 12th in Columbia Public Works' analysis of neighborhood streets in need of traffic calming. Kraus and others said the area gets significant traffic from drivers looking to get from neighborhoods off Fairview and Rollins Rds. to major collectors like Stadium or Forum Blvds. Residents spoke up Thursday that extending the current dead-end Ridgefield Rd. would put those homes and families at risk to the speeding problems that plague their neighbors.

Kraus is now considering finding a lawyer to help the residents in their final shot at stopping the current plan. Residents cannot petition the city to stop, since Pate-Jones is requesting a new subdivision plan rather than a re-zoning. She feels city ordinance is on their side, as well, which only "encourages" the connection of nearby cul-de-sacs rather than outright requiring them.

Crockett told the city's Planning and Zoning Commission that efforts to redevelop the area in the 1960s allowed for the extension of Ridgefield Rd.

In a 6-3 vote, the city's Planning and Zoning Commission required city staff and the developers to work on traffic calming devices within and without Ridgemont Park. Kraus is concerned those decisions, such as the types of methods to slow traffic, will be made without input from the neighbors. The road's use will drastically change if connected to Ridgemont Dr., and the city lacks any analysis or study of how it might affect speeds and volume.

"For [the city] to want to connect our street and make it even worse before they've even corrected anything is just insanity," Kraus said.

ABC 17 News asked Crockett what ideas for traffic calming he had in mind, but have not heard back so far.

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