Columbia City Council debates annexing low-income developments

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For years, the City of Columbia has been adding new territory to bring it within the city limits. But now, the city's annexation campaign takes a different turn. Council members will decide whether the city should take in areas that it really doesn't want.

Many people pass by the two housing developments every day and probably have no idea they are not part of the city. We're talking about a couple of subdivisions close to I-277, Capital Heights and its twin with the unusual name, Bay Berry Mews.

The two developments straddle 277 northeast of the Palmetto Health Richland hospital complex, part of the landscape in this part of Columbia for almost 15 years, but not part of the city itself.

Both contain low-income rental homes. They are also prime examples of what city officials call "donut holes," because they've never been brought within the city limits.

One of the developments is in Councilman Sam Davis's district. "You can't have that large of a hole within the city," said Davis. "Lesson learned again. They never should have developed it that way."

But annexing Capital Heights and Bay Berry Mews will cost the city up front. The city would have to upgrade a private water system now serving both neighborhoods and provide city police protection. The city could spent close to $750,000 to initiate those services, and $500,000 more per year to maintain them.

City staff is telling the council it should reject annexation, and city leaders and nearby homeowners haven't liked the two subdivisions from the start.

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