Proposed housing development worries north Columbia residents

May 1, 2012

Members of a neighborhood association in north Columbia are expressing concern about how their neighborhood will be affected by a planned multiple-unit development on the corner of Walnut Street and College Avenue. At a meeting Monday the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association requested the developers put $1 million in a form of a trust to give back to the community.

Residents and association members last night presented provisions they would like to see made in the contract they’re creating with developer Nathan Odle and his lawyer Craig Van Matre for the Walnut Street development. The development could house a potential 700 or more students.

In the contract as it stands now Nathan Odel and his lawyer Craig Van Matre agreed to provide $10,000 in a fund the association could use to educate neighbors. Board members say this is insufficient. NCCNA member Mara Aruguete says the board was not happy with only damage control of the neighborhood.

“It’s no longer this bohemian cool culture, it becomes instead this homogeneously upscale, you might as well be in the suburb kind of thing and we don’t want that to happen to our neighborhood,” Aruguete said.

In order to build on their recently acquired property on the south side of Walnut Street, the developers are requesting to rezone part of the area. Odel and his lawyer have asked the neighbors to speak in favor of the zoning change in exchange for what the association feels is a reasonable contract. Van Matre explained that the Odel has made a conscious effort to better the community.

“They do make an investment in the community. They pay enormous amounts of real estate taxes, they build the best projects that any body is building and has built, they obey all the laws,” Van Matre said.

The meeting adjourned so that Van Matre may way the options of the trust with his client. He says that it very unlikely he will have Odel agree to the amount requested by the neighbors.

The rezoning meeting for the development of the property on Walnut Street is scheduled to take place May 10th.