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North Village demolition reveals murky zoning authority in Columbia

Explanatory article on brewing controversy between a county social service agency and some residents in the neighborhood of its headquarters / 1021 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — When Boone County Family Resources demolished the house at 400 St. Joseph St. in August, a cloud of confusion over permitting remained even after the debris was cleared.

Two months later, uncertainty persists not only about the demolition permit but also about whether the city has any standing to determine how the agency uses the land.

Boone County Family Resources bought 400 St. Joseph St. in May and tore down a house on the property in August. It also announced this summer that it needed room to grow when it submitted a proposal for leased parking and office space at the new Short Street garage.

Residents in the agency’s North Village neighborhood, aware of inevitable development pressure as downtown Columbia grows, approached the city with concerns that Boone County Family Resources might be violating city codes and making moves that could compromise the historic character of their area.

The demolition also triggered a debate about whether Boone County Family Resources is subject to city zoning ordinances. This surprised city staff, which has since learned of a complicated case history informing the social service agency’s sense of zoning autonomy.

Columbia City Council to cast final vote on ward reapportionment Monday

Preview of city council vote on local redistricting plans / 776 words / The Columbian Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — City Council members remain in suspense about the outcome of their own vote scheduled for Monday. That’s when Columbia’s months-long discussion of ward reapportionment is scheduled to come to a close with a final vote.

The impact of that vote, however, will resonate long after next week. The new ward maps chosen Monday will determine the city’s voting districts for roughly 10 years. The city has redrawn its maps about every decade since 1973 to keep ward representation numerically equal according to the latest census numbers.

“I think it’s going to be very close, extremely contentious and a very long council meeting,” said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony.

The council’s conversation will be held against the backdrop of a petition started this week to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley from his post. The initiative was spurred by opposition to Dudley’s most recent proposal for ward reapportionment.

Dudley went out of his way to advocate for the map known as Trial D, which maintains a central city ward. His most vocal opponents favor Trial E, which extends the First Ward (currently the central city ward) to the west.

Dudley’s opponents have charged that he selected neighborhoods to move from the Third and Fourth wards into the First, purposefully relocating those in which he and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespolh fared worst in the last election.

Dudley denied the charge at a meeting on Oct. 7. He did not respond to repeated calls for comment for this article.

No injuries reported in Columbia Area Career Center tractor fire

Breaking news report on fire at local school / 380 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — A 1969 Ford tractor caught fire during a welding class at the Columbia Area Career Center on Tuesday afternoon. All students were evacuated immediately, but no one was injured.

The call to the Columbia Fire Department at 2:34 p.m. was initially a fire alarm alert and was quickly upgraded to a structure fire, according to Capt. John Metz.

He said five teachers used portable fire extinguishers to put out the blaze, which did not spread beyond the tractor.

Several large red Power MIG welders were stationed around the shop, but Boren said their tanks are full of a non-flammable mixture of carbon dioxide and argon gas.

Columbia’s Fourth Ward councilman faces possible recall over reapportionment map

Night-turn story on councilman’s public information meeting that ended in plans to recall him from office / 751 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — Outrage filled the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library on Friday afternoon, culminating in an initiative to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley.

Angry residents alternately talked over one another, cheered each other on, snickered and shouted down Dudley. He had assembled them for a public meeting to discuss his latest proposal for how to redraw the city’s ward boundaries.

He did little talking.

Amidst accusations of gerrymandering, some of the roughly 40 people in attendance started plotting ways to recall him from office. Dudley was elected to the seat in April 2010.