Chat about the Lawrence planning workshop with Sue Hack and Dan Warner

January 24, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

City Commissioner Sue Hack and Dan Warner, of the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Department, will chat at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday about the upcoming planning charette. Placemakers, a consulting group, will be in Lawrence January 31st to February 6th, to develop a way for Lawrence to build more traditional neighborhoods. For more information about the workshop, <a href="http://www.lawrenceplanning.org/tnd/">see the city's Web site.</a>

Moderator:

This is Laura McHugh, 6 News Reporter. I'll be moderating today's chat with City Commissioner Sue Hack and Long-range planner Dan Warner. Let's get started with an overview of the upcoming meetings.

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Hello Laura. Thanks for this opportunity. Sue and I are happy to be here today. Here's a quick synopsis of what is coming up:

We have hired PlaceMakers to do this planning workshop from Jan. 31st thru February 6th. Lawrence citzens can get a head start on participation by checking dedicated pages on the City of Lawrence website: www.lawrenceks.org

Postings on that site will include the charrette schedule, interviews with community leaders about their expectation for the intensive week, and a growing collection of background information about the process, the PlaceMakers consulting group, targeted areas under consideration for master planning, and the SmartCode approach to channeling growth in community-approved patterns.

Citizens can share their hopes and concerns via the website and ask questions about the charrette process and goals. During the charrette, daily postings will report on discussion and design proposals as they evolve during the week.

consumer1:

While diversity is a wonderful concept and has many wonderful applications. I applaud your attempts to take a closer look at our neighborhood structure. With the skyrocketing prices of homes in Lawrence, I personally would not want to spend a couple hundres thousand dollars on a home, only to find withing a year after occupancy, a multi building apartment complex being built in my back yard. Is this the type of situation your plan is trying to avoid?? We talk about the value of family, but in Lawrence, the splinter groups seem to dictate policy. I for one am ready to see our city take a more traditional role in the housing market. Thanks again and I hope the upcoming election brings common sense onto the playing field.

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Hi Consumer1 - Thanks for the good question. From my experiences on the City Commission, the thing that creates the most difficulties for citizens is now knowing what particular types of buildings are allowed in various areas. Even if, as a home buyer, one should become aware of what an empty space is zoned for, that is asking a lot of home buyers.

When we are finished with this new code writing, the best part will be the coomprehensive nature of the plans and the predictabilty of the plans. I also think that a major component for developers will be that same predictability.

Bassetlover:

How can we attract more retail stores downtown that don't primarily cater to the college students? While I'm a firm believer in shopping "local", I find myself frequently shopping in Johnson County/Kansas City for my home (home accessories, accents, dishes, art, etc.)
decor and gifts. There are no businesses in Lawrence even remotely close in caliber to stores such as Kirklands, Pottery Barn, Nell Hills, and Restoration Hardware. Why do you think this is? My husband and I are empty-nesters with some disposable income we can use for shopping/entertainment, yet the only businesses downtown that we patronize are some of the restaurants. Sometimes we feel that Downtown Lawrence is a bit over-rated for our demographic. Thoughts?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Hi Bassetlover - thank you for your question. One of the exciting parts of the New Urbanism concept is the ability of a mixed use area where folks can live, work and play. This type of area would have a variety of housing styles, office and retail. That is what so many people enjoy about this concept.

As for our downtown, I appreciate your concerns that we seem to have a concentration of stores for college aged kids...while they do make up a significant portion of our population, having a variety would be terrific. The charrettes that we have will not impact our downtown and we need to realize that the market will dictate what will succeed or fail on Massachusetts Street. What will help the success of the existing store and future ones will be an increase in residents in the downtown area. The Hobbs Taylor lofts project is, I hope, a beginning of that trend.

Moderator:

Will consultants focus in on specific areas of the city?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Laura, the project includes master planning of areas in Lawrence, including 19th & Haskell, 23rd and Louisiana, 25th and Iowa and Downtown. Areas outside of Lawrence that will be master planned includes area west of K-10 and south of the Wakarusa River. PlaceMakers will also be providing sector planning (general planning) of the Urban Growth Area. Those interested in seeing those master and sector plans areas can check the charrette web site at www.lawrenceks.og

Moderator:

What kind of impact will this have on developers?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Throughout this project, PlaceMakers will be listening to the community. The final product will balance those interests. It's critical that all stakeholders participate in the charrette. We will make the process efficient and predictable for future growth.

Moderator:

How is this different from the process developers go through today?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Laura -- That is a great question. One of the best ways to begin this answer is by quoting Commissioner Boog Highberger. He said, "We want to make downtown legal." What he meant by that is that currently, a developer cannot create an area that resembles in style our downtown. Due to regulations regarding building height, set backs, roads, sidewalks, etc. a developer would have to obtain a number of waivers and variances in order to do this. The Bauer Farm Project is a perfect example of a departure from our current codes that required a tremendous amount of time (which also means money) to proceed. Having a Traditional Neighborhood Design code in place will allow a developer the option of planning this type of development without going through all of the waivers. That makes the process efficient and predictable.

Moderator:

How committed are policy makers to implementing those changes?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

From the Commission standpoint, I believe there is a commitment to implementing these changes. Remember that this is an optional code, but one that we hope people will take advantage of. The ability to get a project done in a timely manner will hopefully be an incentive to developers.

This is Dan - I think generally staff is pretty exicted about this project. I think staff is looking forward to being able to start promoting TND principles and get projects that are designed in ways that are similar to the great traditional neighborhoods Lawrence has in the core part of the city.

Moderator:

When will there be opportunities for the public to participate?

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

This week-long project will include lots of opportunities to participate. I will touch on a few of the key opportunities. First, the opening presentation will take place on January 31st from 6:30pm to 8:30pm in the City Commission chambers. That presentation will include opportunities to input on this project. The pin-up and community input meeting on February 2nd, from 4:00pm-6:00pm, will be an opportunity for folks to comment on the work PlaceMakers has done up to that point. The pin-up meeting will be in the studio, which is located at Spring Hill Suites, room Naismith B. Additionally, the studio will be open on February 1st through February 4th, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. People will be able to drop-in and comment on the work being done. A full shedule can be found on the charrette web site at www.lawrenceks.og

Moderator:

Before we conclude, we received a few off-topic questions.

HoosierPride:

Is there anything we can do about getting reflective tape for the medians in this town? Whenever it rains it is extremely difficult to see where the lanes meet.

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

This question should be directed to Chuck Soules the Director of Public Works. You could call him at City Hall, 832.3400 or email him at csoules@ci.lawrence.ks.us. thanks

derald:

Can bar's play music on outdoor loud speakers as loud as they want. Talking to the owner has not helped. What can I do?
Thank you for your time.

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

He Derald - I am sorry that this is happening. It appears that you have tried your best to individually handle the situation and it may be time for you to contact law enforcement. We do have a noise ordinance and it would seem to me that this situation would fall under that. If you would like to email me (suehack@sunflower.com) I would be glad to see what I can do to help. Sue

Moderator:

Commissioner Hack, Dan, thanks for chatting with us today.

Dan Warner and Sue Hack:

Laura, thanks so much for having us today. Dan has worked very hard to bring this charrette into reality and I want to encourage people to participate. We have the opportunity to create something very special for Lawrence and we need stakeholder participation to ensure that it is successful. People will really enjoy getting to know the folks from PlaceMakers and we are fortunate that a group of this caliber is able to work with us.

I'll echo what Sue said by encouraging all that are interested to come out and participate in this great project. Thanks Laura.

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