By Sharon Burton
Members of the Columbia City Council were in a difficult position recently as they addressed a zoning recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Sometimes, the right decision is not always clear, and this is one time that council members had to weigh more than one possible option before making a decision. In the end, the vote was split and rezoning will not take place.
The request to rezone property on Burkesville Street has been an emotional one for the landowner as well as members of the zoning commission and the city council. Commission members have been criticized for their decision, but they simply followed the comprehensive plan.
If there is a problem, it may lie within the comprehensive plan. This issue is bigger than the one location on Burkesville Street and it’s one the city must start discussing.
As our residential properties continue to age across the city, do our zoning regulations encourage efforts to bring new life along our roadways?
I’m not saying all houses in Columbia are becoming run down; we have some impressive, spacious homes as well as well-kept small homes that dot the city’s landscape.
Sadly, however, we have also seen too many houses become nothing more than a way for the owner to make money with the intentions of spending as little as possible on maintenance.
A lot of our buildings are aging, and city planners should make sure we are encouraging positive trends that support home and business owners.
When the zoning commission and the city council consider its comprehensive plan, these issues should not be ignored.
The activity that goes on in our town – and especially beside the major roads leading into Columbia – tell a story about our community; we want that story to be inviting and positive.
I think the city council had a difficult decision to make on the rezoning request, but I think they are trying to complicate the simple when it comes to gas services.
Some members of the council continue to appear offended that a shopping center would want gas hookup and not be in the city limits. The problem is, the council can’t seem to decide if the city wants gas to be a service to city residents or if they want to be in the gas business.
Except, of course, that decision was made a long time ago. The city is in the gas business.
They can’t have it both ways. They want to be in the gas business when it’s profitable for them but want to pretend they are offering a service to the city when they want to annex.
Nobody is buying that.
The city’s gas lines run all the way to Green County… I repeat, they are in the gas business.
I personally wish they would stick to providing gas as a city service and leave it to the county through a utility district to provide gas in the county. Then there wouldn’t be a different attitude toward the gas business every time there is a new mayor.
The city did a poor job of operating utilities in the past. It only kept the gas business because it actually made some money with that one. Now, they are holding gas services hostage because, after all, they exist to serve the city.
They pretend to be doing businesses a favor when they run a gas line beyond the city boundary. Sure, we believe that.
Is gas a city service? Then keep it within the city and leave it to someone else to provide the service to the county. Not that complicated.
Not that complicated at all.