Lawrence city commissioners asked city staff to draft an ordinance Tuesday that would allow owners of historic homes and other properties to give the landmarks new life as commercial ventures.
Under suggested changes to the city code, an owner could turn a historic home into a bed and breakfast, historic inn, or an art gallery, to name a few of the permitted uses.
But the decision didn't come without some sweat. For more than an hour, commissioners trudged through controls suggested by residents who felt the changes were too permissive.
"We're trying to be very limiting, so this doesn't open up a residential area for a lot of commercial use," said Marci Francisco, 946 Ohio.
In the end, commissioners sided with the residents on most of their suggested restrictions.
"You can keep it more restrictive, and then make people ask for a zoning variance," said Commissioner Bob Schumm. "This seems to be the way to go."
Originally proposed by the city-county planning commission, the changes would allow for adapted uses of properties on the city, state and national historic registers, or within historic districts on the registers, in all zoning classes.
THEY ALSO required a public hearing on the project and a review from the city's Historic Resources Commission, as well as state preservation officials when appropriate.
The code changes arose from concerns of city staff that many historic properties are no longer suited for their current uses.
"The desirability in our view is to save properties and find appropriate uses for them," said Barry Newton, chair of the city's Historic Resources Commission.
For example, it could become too much of a burden for an owner to preserve a large historic structure in its current use, Newton said.
Residents at the meeting said they agreed with the spirit of the changes.
"We see this as a means of making a structure that otherwise would not be useful, useful," said Arthur Anderson, chair of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods.
However, members of LAN, the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, and the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. proposed more restrictions to limit commercial activity in neighborhoods.
THEY ASKED that reuse be limited to historic properties in commercial districts, structures in residential areas that were built for non-residential use, and homes of more than 4,000 square feet and 50 percent larger than the average neighborhood home.
They also recommended the amount of greenery around the structure be consistent with other area properties.
City planning staff balked at the square footage and greenery requirements, saying measuring neighborhood homes and greenspace would occupy too much valuble staff time.
Commissioner John Nalbandian suggested making the applicant for reuse collect data on square footage and greeenspace. Planners would confirm the figures only when a majority of residents within 250 feet of the property challenged the numbers.
Commissioners agreed with Nalbandian's suggestions. Newton volunteered to help draft specific definitions for square footage measurements and greenspace.
RESIDENTS also sought to limit the sorts of reuses allowed. Schumm vetoed the request.
"I think that will shake itself out in the process," Schumm said. "I can't see anything too caustic getting past these boards (the review process)."
Commissioners will examine a draft of the ordinance for the changes at an upcoming meeting.
IN OTHER action Tuesday:
In a single motion, commissioners approved the following consent agenda items:
Minutes of previous city commission meeting and various city organization meetings.
Payment of city expenses.
Drinking establishment licenses for Low Rider Mexican Cafe Inc., 943 Mass., and the Panda Garden, 1500 W. Sixth.
Retail liquor licenses for Johnson Retail Liquors, 1410 Kasold, Suite 10, and Schwartz Retail Liquor, 1215 W. Sixth.
A bid date of 2 p.m. July 14 for chip and seal repairs for Prospect Street from 12th to 13th streets, and on Oak Hill Avenue to 15th Street.
A bid date of 2 p.m. July 21 for improvements to Ninth Street east of Iowa Street.
A $18,853 contract with Olathe Ford Sales for a -ton truck.
A $15,158 contract with Laird Noller Ford for a one-ton flatbed truck.
A $3,500 contract with Laird Noller Ford for a used compact sedan.
A $13,872 contract with Laird Noller Ford for a full-size pickup.
A towing contract with Hillcrest Wrecker and Garage Inc. for the police department. Under the contract, towing a regular vehicle would run $24, and towing trucks over a certain weight would cost $175.
A $255,855 contract with GC Construction Co., Blue Springs, Mo., for 1991 water line repairs on Kentucky Street from Eighth Street to 12th Street and on New York Street from 10th Street to 14th Street.
An ordinance on final reading removing parking on the south side of 19th Street from Edgelea Road to Harper Street.
An ordinance on final reading removing parking on the west side of Barker Avenue from 23rd Street south to Winona Avenue.
An ordinance on final reading clarifying portions of the city code dealing with parking meter zones and meter post colors.
An ordinance on final reading removing parking on both sides of Learnard Avenue from 19th Street to 23rd Street.
An ordinance on final reading installing stop signs on Kasold Drive at Trail Road.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Parkway Place No. 1, a 12-lot planned residential development of about 11 acres on the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Parkway Place No. 2, a two-lot planned residence-office development of about 5 acres between Clinton Parkway and 24th Street on the west side of Kasold Drive.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Pinnacle West No. 6, a 21-lot residential subdivison of about 7 acres on the north side of Harvard Road west of Westland Drive.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Pioneer Ridge No. 7, a 41-lot residential subdivision of about 14 acres south of Harvard Road and east of Moundridge Drive.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Parkway West, a 61-lot subdivision for single and multifamily residential uses on the east side of Wakarusa Drive south of Clinton Parkway.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Robin's Addition No. 2, a 14-lot residential plat of about 6 acres on the east side of Township Road 1100E, north and south of Trail Road.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Hopkins Addition, a replat of seven lots in Southridge Addition No. 3 and a relocated cross access agreement. This commercial subdivision of about four acres is located on the northeast corner of 26th and Iowa streets.
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Alvamar West No. 4, a 25-lot residential subdivision of about 12 acres west of Inverness Drive along Cherry Hill Drive.
A text amendment to city zoning laws concerning standards for parking spaces for people with disabilities. Consider authorizing the drafting of an ordinance for the text amendment.
A site plan with conditions for a physical rehabilitation center at 535 Gateway Dr.
A site plan with conditions for additions to the McDonald's restaurant at 1309 W. Sixth.
A reallocation of $10,000 in CDBG funds from an Oread neighborhood alley improvement project to a lighting project in South Park.
The adoption by the Douglas County Commission of a resolution of intent to issue $700,000 in industrial revenue bonds on behalf of Cottonwood Inc.
An agreement with the owners and contractor for College Hill Condominiums for use of about 75 feet of right of way for a keystone wall connected to the city-built retaining wall on Ninth Street and extending west and south along the condominium complex property line. The agreement includes a provision that the owners be responsible for maintenance of the wall. Commissioners authorized the mayor to sign the agreement.
The following items were pulled off the consent agenda for additional comment:
Accepting easements and rights of way for the final plat of Wal-Mart Addition No. 1, a one lot commercial subdivision of about 18 acres on the southeast corner of 33rd Street and Iowa Street. Commissioners voted to send the plat back to the city-county planning commission to clarify their intent in placing a requirement on a sign planned for the site.
Commissioners voted to send the plat back to the city-county planning commission to reconsider placing a requirement on a sign planned for the site. In the opinion of the city attorney, the planning commission did not have the authority to require the condition.
A site plan with conditions for an addition to Cloud Heating and Air Conditioning Co., 920 E. 28th. Mayor Bob Schulte abstained from voting on the issue due to a potential business conflict. The remaining commissioners voted to approve the site plan.
Commissioners approved a site plan with conditions for a revision to the site of the Lawrence Bus Co., 837 Pa.
Commissioners approved a $32,500 contract with Enviroland, an Omaha, Neb., firm, to clear sludge from equipment at the city's waste water treatment plant.
Commissioners authorized the city manager to request bids on improvements to equipment at the waste water treatment plant.
Schumm requested that commissioners discuss the development of the Eastern Parkway and the South Lawrence Trafficway at their July 14 meeting.