Majority of Comprehensive Plan Task Force members skip scheduled meeting

Oct 12, 2012

Members of a task force set up to create a Comprehensive Plan for the City of Columbia say they are frustrated by a lack of participation, coordination and timeliness in the planning process.

Only three out of 15 Comprehensive Plan Task Force members showed up at Wednesday night's Task Force meeting at Columbia City Hall. With three staff members from the city's Planning & Development Division, the task force members discussed "Columbia Imagined," a comprehensive plan project intended to provide common guidelines for citizens and decision makers in planning the city’s future growth.

Lee Henson is one of the present three Task Force members. He says he thinks the planning process lacks the attention it deserves.

“I think a lot of people who’s being doing it for two or three years are somewhat frustrated with the length of time it’s taking," Henson says. "That’s more than understandable.”

The first task force meeting took place in January 2010, as part of the Columbia Imagined project. Henson says though their recommendations are purely advisory, his motivation is to help people with disabilities.

“My main interest in this whole effort has to do with full inclusion of people with disabilities into the development of the city, and a lot of us are people with low incomes as well,” Henson says.

The meeting attendance is only one of the problems facing planners.

Pat Zenner is the development service manager for the City’s Community Development Department. He says right now what the Task Force is having some challenges with is having pieces of the document for the Columbia Imagined plan and not knowing how all the pieces fit together.

“What we would like to be able to do is to give the Task Force then a document that’s about two thirds of the way complete, so they can look at the document as a whole and be able to read it and get a fuller perspective," Zenner says.

Zenner says the Planning & Developing Division staff is writing the draft of "Columbia Imagined" on behalf of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Task Force serves as a sounding board in the meetings at this early stage. Zenner says he expects the public participation to begin in December.