Commercial development at the intersection of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive grabbed the spotlight at the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission meeting Wednesday.
Commissioners, who last month voted to recommend commercial rezoning for land on the southeast corner of the intersection, considered two requests for commercial zoning Wednesday, at the intersection's northwest and southwest corners.
Last month, planners voted to recommend rezoning for 15 acres owned by Westgate Partnership on the southeast corner of Wakarusa Drive and U.S. Highway 40. Westgate's owners had sought rezoning from A (agricultural) to PCD-2 (planned commercial development) for a full 20 acres, but planners scaled it down.
Commissioners deadlocked on one of the two rezoning requests on Wednesday. The request, to rezone 20 acres on the northwest corner of Wakarusa Drive and U.S. Highway 40 from agriculture to B-2 (general business), was made by Edward G. Collister Jr. for the property owners of record, Rock Chalk Ranch, a partnership; Max and Claudine Slankard; and Isla M. Richards.
THE PLANNING staff recommended rezoning for a net total of 10 acres, provided that the property was annexed into the city and that a 50-foot greenspace easement along U.S. 40 be dedicated.
Collister said the property owners don't have immediate development plans, so they shouldn't have to be annexed by the city until they are ready to proceed.
Several commissioners said they don't oppose commercial zoning at the northwest corner. However, they said the applicant should simultaneously apply for annexation.
The motion to recommend approval of the rezoning failed, 4-4-1, with Mary Prewitt, Mark Buhler, Steve Glass and Bernard Judge opposed and David Evans abstaining. Evans abstained because his architectural firm works for Westgate, which is developing land on the intersection's southeast corner.
Because the motion failed, no recommendation will be given on the issue to county commissioners.
THE PLANNING commission backed the staff's recommendation in approving a rezoning request on the southwest corner of the intersection.
The planning staff recommended that the rezoning be trimmed to a net of 10 acres, with acreage sufficient to satisfy setback requirements added to that total. Including the setbacks and greenspace easements, the total is nearly 12 platted acres.
Landplan Engineering's Brian Kubota asked for 20 acres to be rezoned commercial. The actual acreage left for commercial development would be 10 acres, he said, after subtracting land devoted to setbacks, greenspace easements, landscaping, street rights of way and so forth.
Planners voted 7-1-1, with Prewitt opposed and Evans abstaining, to follow the staff's recommendation.
In a related matter, planners voted 9-0 on their consent agenda to approve Landplan's annexation request for 14.268 acres at the intersection's southwest corner.
COMMISSIONERS went against the planning staff's recommendation Wednesday in denying a request to rezone two lots at 532 Miss. from single-family residential to RM-D (residence-duplex). The request was made by Landplan for Thomas Triplett, property owner of record.
Commissioners acknowledged that planning policy usually calls for a buffer, such as multifamily housing, between commercial and single-family residential areas.
However, commissioners sided with Pinckney Neighborhood Assn. members 18 attended Wednesday's meeting saying that putting in duplexes would damage the character of the neighborhood. The area is mostly devoted to single-family homes, although a triplex is two houses north of the proposed duplex site. The duplexes also would create more traffic safety problems for children on their way to nearby Pinckney Elementary School, the neighbors argued.
In other action Wednesday, commissioners:
Voted 9-0 to adopt the final plat of the Copp Subdivision, a replat of Lot 1 and part of Lot 2, Addition 11, North Lawrence. This three-lot single-family residential subdivision contains 1.042 acres and is on the southwest corner of Maple and North Ninth streets. Submitted by John A. Baxter for Melvin E. Copp, property owner of record.
Voted 9-0 to deny an amended rezoning request by Tom L. Story for a two-acre tract 1 miles east of Baldwin on the north side of U.S. Highway 56. Story originally sought rezoning from agriculture to general business for 80 acres, but he told commissioners Wednesday he only needed rezoning for two acres on the southwest corner of the property, where his body shop is located. Story needed the rezoning so his body shop, now in violation of current zoning, could continue operating. While denying his request, commissioners said they would encourage the county zoning inspector to work with Story to find an alternative site. Commissioners had been scheduled to convene a joint session with Baldwin planners, who notified them that they wouldn't be attending.
Voted 7-1-1, with Norbert Grosdidier opposed and Evans abstaining, to deny a request by Dennis K. Oakley to rezone from agriculture to business about 1.52 acres on the southwest corner of U.S. 40 and Township Road 1100E. Like the earlier rezoning request east of Baldwin, Oakley needed the rezoning because his body shop, in operation since 1972, is in violation of current zoning. Commissioners encouraged Oakley to take his case to the county Board of Zoning Appeals.
APPROVED 9-0 a request to rezone about 6.07 acres from single-family residence with PUD (planned unit development) to RM-1 (multifamily residence) on the southeast corner of 15th Street and Inverness Drive. Requested by Landplan for Alvamar Northwest Partnership, property owner of record.
Approved 9-0 a request to revise the preliminary development plan for Alvamar Planned Unit Development and withdraw about three acres on the northwest corner of the plan, which involves an area immediately west of Quail Pointe Townhouses along the south side of West 15th Street. This area is shown on the plan as a cluster development of five four-unit townhouses.
Approved 8-0-1, with Evans abstaining, a request to rezone from I-2 (light industrial district) to I-3 (heavy industrial district) about 22.44 acres east of Haskell Avenue and south of 31st Street. Requested by Gould-Evans Partnership for Charles Dunbar, property owner of record. Penny's Concrete plans to build a concrete plant at the site. The planning staff reported that the plant, which would be just east of Dunbar's asphalt plant, conforms with the Douglas County Guide Plan and the South Lawrence Trafficway Corridor Land Use Plan.
APPROVED 8-0-1, with Buhler abstaining, a use-permitted-upon-review request to operate a permanent emergency shelter for the homeless at 924 N.H. Requested by Gould-Evans Architects for The Salvation Army and Greg Polk, who is the owner of record.
Voted 9-0 to defer until November a text amendment to the joint city-county subdivision regulations, regarding the planting of trees in all city subdivisions.
Approved 8-0-1, with Bernard Judge abstaining, an amendment to the transportation improvement program for fiscal years 1989-94. The amendment includes applications for federal funds to help pay for two vans and wheelchair lift equipment for a third van. Vans would go to Douglas County Senior Services and Independence Inc., while the wheelchair lift would be installed in a van at the Cedarwood Living Center.
Approved 9-0 an amendment to the 1989 PL Scope of Services budget to cover third- and fourth-quarter reimbursement requests.