A Nieder Acres property owner says a compromise proposal for divided zoning of the subdivision would reduce the already-eroded value of his land.
Steve Sublett, who owns two acres and a house on the southwest corner of the 30-acre subdivision at 33rd and Iowa, said he wants to see all of Nieder Acres annexed into the city and rezoned for commercial uses. He outlined his position in a set of nine proposed amendments to Plan 95, the community planning guide, as an alternative to a proposal to rezone just 18 acres for commercial development.
``My stance from the first and the stance of practically all the residents of Nieder Acres is that it needs to be rezoned and to be rezoned in such a way to make it salable and salable at a reasonable figure,'' said Sublett, whose property is outside the 18 acres.
At issue is an effort by Nieder Acres property owners to transform the entire subdivision into a commercial development site. They contend that commercial encroachment and failing infrastructure have left the subdivision unviable as a neighborhood and have lowered property values. Target Stores Inc. has purchased options on 10 acres in the subdivision where it hopes to build a store.
Also, a local commercial real estate agent confirmed today that the Aldi Inc. grocery chain, which operates a supermarket at 23rd and Louisiana, has bought the rights to a two-acre site for construction of a new 14,000-square-foot store. Aldi's site, which is directly north of Target's site near the southeast corner of the subdivision, fronts on Iowa Street.
``They've optioned ground there,'' said Doug Brown, a realty agent involved in the transaction.
Sublett's proposal, as well as another set of six amendments suggested by Myles Schachter, a downtown businessman, will be considered at a public hearing Aug. 25 of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.
Schachter's proposed amendment was rooted in an agreement among officers or members of groups that expressed concerns about the rezoning request not to oppose Target's plan if 12 acres of the subdivision was set aside for less intensive uses, namely offices and high-density residential development, such as apartments.
If anything, Sublett said, for owners of property in the 12 acres, the 18-acre compromise only intensifies the commercial encroachment that Nieder Acres property owners are trying to escape.
Sublett also said that given the nature of the commercial development proposed and already in place along 31st and Iowa streets, and the existence of light industrial uses at Cottonwood Inc. to the west and a mobile home park to the south, the 12 acres in question aren't an attractive site for offices and apartments.
Sublett said he wasn't aware that any of his fellow property owners in the 12 acres had received any indication developers would be interested in that area.
``If this was a possibility, we'd be contacted by people who want to build offices or high-density residential,'' he said. ``No one has called.''
Schachter and Earl Reineman, president of Downtown Lawrence, could not be reached for comment today.
Nancy Shontz, a member of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance who signed the compromise agreement, said the compromise agreement and Schachter's proposed amendments to Plan 95 were designed to protect the restrictions on commercial development that are outlined in the guide.
``In our view the proposal that's been made by Target and the property owners would violate Plan 95,'' she said.
Other groups whose members participated in the agreement were the League of Women Voters of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods.