Changing in an effort to keep everything the same

Location of the building currently occupied by Randy Adams Construction and the parks department, taken from documents released by the city's planning department.

Location of the building currently occupied by Randy Adams Construction and the parks department, taken from documents released by the city's planning department.


The city’s working to rezone a small lot north of Stephens Park in Columbia. Most of the time, when a property owner comes to the city and ask to rezone property, it’s because they want to change the property’s use or ownership. This case is different. This time, the owners at Randy Adams Construction (RACA Properties, LLC) are asking the city to re-zone their property from R-1 (single family dwelling) to O-P (planned office) so they have the option of continuing to use the building for the same purposes they are right now, city planner Patrick Zenner said.

A former milk processing plant and orange juice processing facility, the building now houses part of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation department — not surprising for a building right across the street from one of the city’s largest parks — and the offices of Randy Adams Construction. It’s what city administrators call a “unique nonconforming structure;” it will retain that status until the parks department decides to move out. Their lease runs until the middle of the next decade, but should the city choose not to renew the lease at that time, the owners would find themselves stuck without special status and thus stuck with nothing more than residential zoning.

The current owner could “continue to operate today as a legal nonconformity,” Zenner said, “he just wants to keep the option to continue use.”

The current zoning request, which Zenner said has been in the works for about a year, is designed to allow the property’s owners to preserve its present use. The owners would, should it become necessary, like to replace the city’s offices with similar private tenants. Zenner said that because it deals with an existing structure, the rezoning would be handled under “simplified” status. The new OP status would allow only a narrow range of uses (no retail, for example) and little, if any, redevelopment or renovation.

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