Sunday, October 16, 2011

SERIOUS ENVIRO PROBLEMS: Should halt Regency rezoning

Ken Midkiff
By Ken Midkiff, Chair, Osage Group Sierra Club Conservation Committee
 
The Regency Mobile Home Park in south Columbia should not be re-zoned for at least 5 reasons.

1. Stormwater controls are inadequate. Not only does any stormwater from this Mobile Home Court run into Clean Creek (by Nifong Blvd.), but there is also a large pipe/concrete culvert diverting stormwater from the apartment complex north and west of the Mobile Home Park. 
 
Right now, there is an abundance of grassy lawns, trees, and shrubs that absorb SOME of this runoff. If the re-zoning should occur, all or most of the grassy lawns would be replaced with "impervious" surface. About 70% of the trees (some up to 40 years old) would be converted to mulch and most (all?) of the shrubbery would likewise be decimated. 
 
The current plans to retain stormwater are inadequate and would be quickly overwhelmed. The topography is such that all stormwater runoff would enter Clear Creek, which joins Gans Creek in Rockbridge Memorial State Park.

2. Sewage is a problem now, primarily on-site, which can be dealt with by replacing old and failing clay sewer lines. HOWEVER, the current sewer line off-site is inadequate to handle the up-to 1,000 occupants should re-zoning occur
 
Unless Aspen Heights agrees to construct a larger sewer line off-site, the burden will fall to the taxpaying citizens of Columbia.

3. Up to 70% of the trees would be cut and (presumably) mulched. Many of the trees are more than 2' in diameter at breast height. It takes a long time for oak, hickory, and walnut trees to reach this size. Yet the plans are for the trees to be demolished. The re-zoning plan needs to be amended to preserve older, mature trees.

4. There is a large amount of asphalt and concrete present. Not only roads and sidewalks, but each mobile home is seated on a concrete pad. Before re-zoning occurs, Aspen Heights should address how this will be handled.

5. Gas, electric, water and sewer connections for each mobile home will need to be removed. Current plans inadequately address how these removals would be dealt with and how pipes (water, sewer, gas) and, electric lines would be recycled or otherwise disposed of. 
 
At present there is a large dump -1/3rd to 1/4th of an acre - with old furniture, wood framing concrete and asphalt, various debris, and concrete blocks on a road marked "No Trespassing" on the south end of the Mobile Home Park.

The Planning and Zoning Commission UNANIMOUSLY rejected this approval by a vote of 7-0 (some cited "too dense" for the reason of voting "NO", but that issue and the social concerns are beyond the scope of an environmental organization). 
 
It is recommended the Columbia City Council do likewise.

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