July 11, 2013

Council appoints municipal court judges

Columbia City Council held its monthly meeting Tuesday, July 9. Council members present were Moe Baddourah, Cameron Runyan, Sam Davis, Leona Plaugh, Brian Newman, and Mayor Steve Benjamin.

The second of two public hearings regarding the development agreement between the City of Columbia and Bob Hughes for the Bull Street property was held prior to Tuesday's city council meeting. The six hour meeting included more input from residents, both for and against the agreement. Council approved the second reading of the development agreement by a vote of 4 to 2. Benjamin, Runyan, Davis, and Newman voted for the agreement while Plaugh and Baddourah voted against.

The second reading included changes made after the first public hearing held on July 1. The changes include:

• Richland 1 school district will get the first right to operate any primary school built in the neighborhood.

• Hughes pledges to try to accommodate city preferences to steer some business to local and minority and women-owned contractors.

• Hughes agrees to do a noise- and lighting-impact analysis along with an already required trafficimpact study before a baseball stadium can be built.

• Hughes pledges up to $25,000 toward the cost of excavating the Camp Asylum site where captured Union soldiers were kept prisoner during the Civil War. He will make the site available for digging within 120 days.

Along with those changes, council announced that an advisory committee would be created to monitor Hughes and make sure he keeps his commitments to the city. The panel will be comprised of representatives of adjoining neighborhoods, historic preservationists, the business community, a minority business owner, and a member of City Council.

One main concern from residents was the fund- ing source the city would use to pay for its part in the project. Jeff Palen, Columbia's chief financial officer, announced the options that the city would use. According to Palen, council could use general obligation bonds, tax increment financing, a second hospitality bond, or draw money from the city's stormwater and water and sewer funds.

Following Tuesday’s final vote, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ike McLeese released a statement.

“Today we made a giant step forward in moving the Greater Columbia Region toward greatness. The Bull Street development will not only transform Columbia, but the recent debate will also impact the way Columbia approaches doing business. Hopefully the days of endless delays and indecision are gone. Under the strong leadership of Mayor Benjamin and city council, local citizens will continue to have an opportunity to have their say and make informed decisions to help move our region forward.”

The Bull Street project is expected to bring over 11,000 new jobs and a $1.2 billion economic boom to the City of Columbia.

Council approved the appointments of municipal court judges. Kristy Goldberg and Dana Turner will serve four year terms. Steven Dennis and James Guignard will serve three year terms. Lincoln Jenkins, Susan Porter, August Swarat, Rosalyn Frierson, and Diedra Hightower will serve two year terms. Carl Soloman and Sally Speth will serve two year terms as part-time or substitute municipal court judges.

Three ordinances were given first reading approval. The first authorized the city manager to execute a second amendment to the purchase agreement between the City of Columbia and Bright-Meyers 2001 LLC for the sale of Capital City Stadium. The second ordinance granted an encroachment to Sandy Point Golf Club, Inc. for installation and maintenance of a concrete handicap ramp and steel pipe handrails. Finally, the last ordinance granted an encroachment to Sakura Columbia Inc. for placement and maintenance of four tables and 12 chairs in the right of way adjacent to its business at 937 Main Street.

Council approved a resolution authorizing the notice of the 2013 election for mayor and three members of city council. Along with Mayor Benjamin; Davis, Plaugh, and Tameika Isaac Devine are up for reelection. The election is scheduled for November 2013.

Council approved a resolution recognizing Cherod Webber as an honorary ambassador between the City of Columbia and Ghana and the greater western and southern Africa regions.

Council also passed a resolution authorizing the consumption of beer and wine only at the Columbia Crab Crackin Festival at the amphitheatre area of Finlay Park.

The first reading of a map amendment rezoning 1020 Second Avenue from light industrial to heavy industrial was approved.

A motion to deny a request to rezone 1428 Heidt Street from general residental to office and institutional was accepted.

The first reading to designate 930 Laurens Street as a group II landmark was approved. Group II status consists of structures or sites that constitute a delineation of the material visual history of Columbia lesser than those of the group I status. Council also approved the first reading of a text amendment to permit weekend directional signs.

Council approved a request for the installation of multi-way stop controls at Park and Beaufort Streets and Florence and Clark Streets.

A request to endorse the fiscal year 2013/2014 Justice Assistance Grant program application was approved. The program will cost $89,626.

Eighteen bids, agreements, and change orders were approved.

The next Columbia City Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 13 at 6:00 p.m. at 3907 Ensor Avenue.

 Contact author Josh Cruse at

Columbia Star