Tensions ran high between Columbia residents, city staff and council members at the Columbia City Council meeting Monday night.
The meeting served as a forum for public comment on three hotly contested housing development proposals. Collegiate Housing Partners is proposing a student housing development on the south side of Conley Ave., between 4th and 5th Street. Opus Development Company wants to build on the North side of Locust Street, between 7th and 8th Street. American Campus Communities is proposing a complex on the corner of Providence and Turner.
Each proposal was met with doubts over infrastructure issues in the city. The public voiced concerns over sewer, water, electric, parking, and transit. Private murmurs turned into audible comments, leading Mayor Bob McDavid to call a recess and sternly warn against any interrupting.
The crowd became visibly irritated with the city acting as promoters of developments rather than as voices for city residents.
Columbia resident Alyce Turner said the city needs to look at the proposals and listen to the public before voting.
“You gotta tell us what’s going on," Turner said. "People don’t know what’s going on. And these quickie meetings and making decisions on three huge developments in a week’s time process when normally that would take a month doesn’t sit well with us.”
A third public hearing will be held Wednesday at noon. Many residents disagreed with the meeting time saying they can’t attend because it is in the middle of the workday. The city did not respond to the concerns.