Archive for Friday, March 20, 1992

CITY COMMISSION FACES LONG ROAD ON HIGHWAY ISSUES

March 20, 1992

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Another long night is ahead of Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday after last week's six-and-a-half-hour marathon meeting.

Among the items on the plate for Tuesday's agenda are discussion of the final report on the Eastern Parkway, setbacks and easements for the South Lawrence Trafficway and a new site plan for condominiums on the site of the abandoned Theta Chi fraternity house.

Commissioners tabled discussion of the site plan at Tuesday's meeting after they and John Shaver, owner of the Theta Chi property, reached a stalemate over a driveway planned for the complex.

Two condominium buildings are planned for the site on Ninth Street just west of Emery Road. The project calls for construction of the two buildings and driveway, plus the demolition of the frat house.

COMMISSIONERS felt the driveway leading to Emery Road was too steep and would create a safety hazard when slick. The slope of the driveway is 15 percent.

Commissioners and city staff suggested solutions to the slope problem, but Shaver rejected them.

The College Housing Group, developers of the project, have submitted a sketch to the city for a new driveway with a 10 percent slope, currently the maximum standard for city streets.

Sheila Stogsdill, city planner, said city planning staff recommends approval of the new plan contingent on receiving more detailed engineering plans and approval from the city engineer.

Later in the meeting, which is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. in the commission meeting room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts, commissioners will receive a study of the proposed route for the Eastern Parkway. The report was released by the city Thursday.

THE STUDY fleshes out the distinguishing features of the parkway and recommends lane configurations for the road, traffic speeds and the construction of two bridges.

The study also earmarks eight structures, including two homes, for removal to make way for the parkway as currently proposed.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said Thursday that the commissioners will hear a short presentation Tuesday on the report from its authors, Johnson, Brickell, Mulcahy and Associates, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm.

Commissioners also will discuss a plan for setbacks and easements for another element of Lawrence's proposed circumferential road system, the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Under the plan suggested by Commissioner Bob Schumm, easements would be used to reduce the setback requirements along the trafficway.

EASEMENTS, which either can be purchased by governments or turned over to them by landowners, give governments the right to use private property. With setbacks, government restricts a landowner's use of property.

The plan calls for 50-foot setbacks for the entire length of the 14.1-mile trafficway route. The size of the easements, which extend beyond the right of way, would depend on the size of right of way at various points on the trafficway.

For example, Schumm's plan calls for a 50-foot easement on both sides of the trafficway where the right of way is 350 feet or less. Where the traffic way's right of way is 400 feet wide, a 25-foot easement would be needed.

The plan would maintain open vistas and allow the city and county to place a hiking and bicycle trail along the trafficway, according to Schumm.

THE PLAN will require the city and county to obtain easements equivalent to about 80 acres along the length of the trafficway route.

Commissioners will discuss Schumm's plan and then refer it to Douglas County commissioners, partners in the development of the trafficway, who are scheduled to discuss it Monday.

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