The City Council passed Resolution 20-12A to declare some parts of Columbia as “blighted” in February. While the blight decree caused a large amount of backlash from Columbia residents, it was the legality of the resolution that caught the council’s attention.
City Attorney Fred Boeckmann advised that according to the City Charter, “legislative business” must be done by ordinance rather than resolution and that the resolution should be rescinded in favor of creating an entirely new ordinance. Councilmember Helen Anthony says she saw no other option but to take Boeckmann’s advice.
“As you know, that my part was going to be rescinding the map and not the advisory board, but based on the opinion of counsel, we had no choice," Anthony said.
Drafting the blight zone as a city ordinance would require multiple readings and opportunities for the public to comment. Resolutions do not. Columbia resident John Paul says the failure to include the public is where the City Council went wrong.
“And when they want to circumvent it, and not let the people here vote on it, to not let you vote on to determine how this is functioning is not right,” Paul said.
During public comments on the issue, Columbia residents continued to ask the council to give the public opportunities to talk about the blight decree. Many asked that if or when the advisory board on blight and Enhanced Enterprise Zones in Columbia is reestablished under an ordinance, that it be expanded to include a more diverse representation of the city.