Residents flip opposition to south Columbia rezoning request

South Columbia development

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A homeowners association near a planned commercial development in south Columbia said it will support a request from the developers to rezone the land.

Village at Bedford Walk HOA president Michael Sykuta told ABC 17 News that a miscommunication between the group and others knowledgable about the project at the southeast corner of Bethel Street and Nifong Boulevard led to the HOA initially opposing the deal. 

Jeffrey E. Smith Investment Company wants to rezone 15 acres of land for a commercial development. The "mixed use - neighborhood" zoning sought is designed for developments that build to the needs of nearby neighborhoods. 

The Village at Bedford Walk, a senior living community, is just across Bethel Street from the development. The HOA and Smith had a previous agreement that restricted certain developments from building closest to them, such as fast food restaurants. A February letter from Sykuta said that residents feared those protections would go away in the rezoning.

Sykuta sent a follow up letter to the Columbia City Council on Thursday saying that the group had met with Smith and others a month earlier. Sykuta said a representative for Smith walked them through how each of the restricted uses "would or would not change" during the development.

"After reviewing the requested changes in detail, the board voted unanimously to support the request to rezone the undeveloped lots of Gentry Estates to M-N," Sykuda's letter said.

Staff and residents at Gentry Estates said they supported the development. While it's unclear what will be built, their letter said residents were hopeful a pharmacy would be constructed.

The development comes as the city prepares to expand Nifong Boulevard to four lanes in the coming year. Smith will construct two new roads - Nova Way and Aurora Drive - connecting the business plaza on Peachtree Drive to the new development and to Nifong Boulevard. Smith will also pay the city $100,000 for work that would normally be required of the developer, but that the city will be doing as part of the widening.

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