Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BEAT BYTE: City Hall report reveals massive eminent domain plan

COLUMBIA, 8/31/09 (Beat Byte) -- A report from a presentation Columbia City Council members attended during a Sept. 15, 2008 pre-council meeting has revealed a plan to restart a long-dead thing from the city's racially-charged past -- a so-called Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, or LCRA, empowered to take vast parcels of land -- presumably in the downtown and surrounding areas -- using eminent domain.

The Land Clearance Authority advocacy comes near the conclusion of the 14 page report, especially disturbing because it describes several other less controversial redevelopment plans that have either recently come to pass or have been heartily pushed behind the scenes, e.g. TIFs, CIDs, MODESA money; a State Historical Society Museum; a hotel/conference center; and an MU performing arts center.

The first time an LCRA was constituted in Columbia -- about 50 years ago -- landowners received about half as much as the Authority's own appraiser said their land -- hundreds of acres downtown -- was worth: about $590,000.00 against $1.1 million.

The council report -- from a lobbying firm called "Spectrum Consulting" that has intimate ties with Senator Kit Bond -- doesn't appear with minutes from the pre-council meeting on the city's website. What's more, the minutes say only this about its final recommendation: "The Council also received information regarding state law policy pertaining to Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority."

That hardly tells the whole story. Spectrum Consulting describes what it calls the "Next Step" in chillingly brief PowerPoint-ese. At the top of the page: "LCRA Re-establishment."

The report urges council members to “convey power” and “appropriate budgets” for “land assemblage.” It ticks off a “to-do” list: “solicit developers,” survey “blight.” The acronym “LCRA” appears on every third line, along with TIF and other redevelopment acronyms, all of which have recently come to pass.

View page 13 of this PDF report for more information.

Meeting minutes

Archived meeting minutes

NEXT TIME: More details, and a history of "land clearance" in Columbia.

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