First Ward Columbia City Council Member Ginny Chadwick announced Friday her opposition to a new referendum petition stated to be in favor of repealing improper downtown development.
The petition would affect development by the Opus Group, whose agreement with the city to build a student housing building on Locust Street was approved by city council on Monday, May 19. The project includes an agreement that the Opus Group will pay $450,000 to the city for improvements in transit and infrastructure – funding which would not be available to the city if the ordinance allowing it were repealed.
Chadwick said the Opus Group's plan for construction of active space on ground level along the Avenue of the Columns will have "every right to continue" as long as it meets zoning requirements.
"Repealing the ordinance does not stop the development," Chadwick said. "It simply challenges the developer's contractual commitment to provide additional funding for both transit and infrastructure."
Chadwick said the city would have to look elsewhere for funds to improve city infrastructure if the contribution from the Opus Group was unavailable. She also said a repeal of the ordinance does not stop the city from issuing a building permit.
Spokesperson for the petition to repeal the ordinance, Jeremy Root, said the agreement between the city and the Opus Group recognized that the infrastructure is inadequate to serve new development.
"The city and Opus have both agreed that Opus' contribution to the additional infrastructure is $450,000," Root said. "What that hides is the citizen's contribution that infrastructure. The rest of us will be asked through property taxes, through bond issues, through other mechanisms, to pay for the remainder"