Columbia subdivision approved, with conditions

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Roads were the main points of business at the Columbia City Council meeting Monday night. 

Action was taken concerning Quarry Road and Skyline Drive, and Rueck Road was discussed for a large part of the meeting.

After hearing from the developer of a proposed Bluff Ridge Estates subdivision in the north end of Columbia and more public comment concerned with traffic and water, the council voted to approve a preliminary plat for the subdivision.

Since the proposal had been approved by the Columbia Plan Commission in November, the council was obligated to act on the submission Monday. The council had options to approve the plat as presented, deny the plan and give written response for denial or approve the proposal with modification. 

The plan was approved with three conditions, one of which gives the city more time to discuss the future of Rueck Road.

The first provision included as part of approval of the plat includes removal from the proposal a “vacation of Rueck Road … in order to allow the city council to complete the comprehensive planning process.”

Much of the public input Monday, as well as during the Dec. 6 meeting, was from residents of the nearby Brellinger subdivision about the Bluff Ridge developers abandoning plans for improving Rueck Road and using Rueck Parkway, which goes through Brellinger, as a “collector street” and allowing access into Bluff Ridge Estates.

The plan for Bluff Ridge Estates was the subject of so much scrutiny Dec. 6 that city staff posted a response to frequently asked questions about the proposal as well as a history of annexation and agreements with the city and the Brellinger development on the city’s website. 

Columbia Director of Community Development Scott Dunakey offered clarification. 

“City staff determined in a research of available records that Rueck Parkway was proposed by the Brellinger developers to replace the segment of Rueck Road in question with an extension of Rueck Road designed to collector standards,” Dunakey explained.

“The original 1995 annexation agreement with the then-owners of what is now the Bluff Ridge property had a provision committing the city to require the property owners on both sides of Rueck Road to each dedicate and improve their half of the 50-foot right-of-way when the properties develop,” he continued, adding much of the Rueck Road discussion involves disagreements about those points.

Residents and representatives of Brellinger argue Rueck Road should be improved by the Bluff Ridge developers, as increased traffic on Rueck Parkway would cause unnecessary congestion as well as safety issues.

The council voted to remove the “vacation” language from the preliminary plat in order to align the future of the Rueck Road with its comprehensive plan process, which is currently underway.

The second change to the approved plat changed re-labeled “Outlot A” as “Future Phase”  in order to “eliminate confusion about outlot development,” according to an agenda staff report. 

The report also stated that “the owner will be responsible for required improvements consistent with (city) council’s solution at the time the future phase is developed.”

The final amendment to the submitted plat was to redirect drainage from an adjacent property into a point within the subdivision. At the time of the vote Monday, the developer had already submitted a revised plat for the drainage change.

Before the vote, Columbia City Administrator Doug Brimm read through a list of items that would need to be addressed moving forward. In addition to Rueck Road improvements, requirements for road grade and ADA compliance were addressed. 

Ward III Alderman Paul Khoury questioned whether  some issues, which need to be addressed in the “improvements” phase of development prior to final plat approval, would require variance. Brimm explained the road grade “exception” would need council approval but not a variance and the State of Illinois supersedes local control when ADA compliance is involved. 

The preliminary plat was approved without a vote against – although Khoury abstained citing a conflict of interest as he is a resident of the area in question.

Another road discussed during the meeting was Skyline Drive off Old Route 3. The street ends in a “hammerhead turnaround.” 

It was noticed during leaf pickup that people were parking in the turnaround area, requiring motorists and city service vehicles to use adjacent driveways to turn around on the street.

As a result, the “hammerhead” and 120 feet past the turnaround will be designated as no parking zones. It was suggested that warnings, not citations, be issued during communication to residents of the change in parking restriction.

The city council also authorized an agreement between the Illinois Department of Transportation and the City of Columbia for the Quarry Road Roundabout and Resurfacing Project – Phase 2. 

The project, which is anticipated to be on the March 11, 2022, IDOT letting, also requires matching funds from the city. 

The council approved $544,454 of Motor Fuel Tax and Illinois Rebuild Funds to be appropriated for use to complete the project.

Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith confirmed that the design for the roundabout is complete and the city is waiting for one final right-of-way agreement to be finalized in early January. 

The council also voted to extend an employment agreement with Brimm to continue as city administrator through April 30, 2025. Brimm began his role with the city in August 2019.

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