Property owners in Nieder Acres are being jerked around by a growing number of people and interests, and the sad, unfortunate aspect of the situation is that the people who own the homes and own the land in question are not going to have much of a say in what happens to their investments.
Individuals such as some members of Downtown Lawrence Inc., members of the city-county planning staff headed by Price Banks, some lawyers, a few members of the Chamber of Commerce board, and even a few representatives of various commercial parties interested in building in the Nieder Acres tract all have combined to take the future of Nieder Acres out of the hands of the property owners.
The eventual use of this land will be determined by people such as Banks, DLI members and others -- none of whom are property owners in the area, but who nevertheless think they know far better than the property owners what should be done with the land. And they behave as if they know better than anyone else what retail facilities are best for local and area residents.
Apparently the question of whether to rezone Nieder Acres from residential to commercial is to be postponed again. Deals are being made, whether or not the landowners want the deals.
Some of the more vocal and visible members of the DLI don't want the public to think they are opposed to Target, but the fact is they do not want the department store locating in the South Iowa Street location. They want to work out a deal where they don't come off as the bad guys in the Target controversy and they are trying to shift the blame to other bodies.
Members of the planning commission, realizing the public is growing tired, impatient and angry with the games being played by this body, are trying to get Target representatives to agree to be a part of a Plan '95 amendment.
Word is city-county planning staffers have worked out a scheme to OK part of Nieder Acres for commercial but limit the remaining portion of the tract to office use, not commercial.
Also, the deal is that if Target will put off pressing for an immediate approval of a rezoning of Nieder Acres, and let planning commission members craft an amendment to Plan '95 by the end of August, planning staff people and their allies in various Horizon 2020 groups will use the trade-off to try to gain even larger restrictive controls for commercial development in this part of Lawrence in the upcoming Horizon 2020 plan.
Lawrence and Douglas County residents do not realize how the future growth and development of the city and the use of their land is being determined behind their backs and through deals and compromises with so-called preservationists, and others who like to paint themselves as being interested only in the best interests of the area.
Baloney. A good percentage of these people want to control growth -- residential as well as commercial. They want to tell farmers what they can do with their land and they want to handcuff individuals such as those who own property in Nieder Acres. They are interested in limiting retail competition and they are eager to impose a restrictive Horizon 2020 on the city which would place severe handicaps on the city's growth and development for years to come.
Like it or not, planning commission staff members, with the assistance of certain Downtown Lawrence Inc. members, the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, board members of the Douglas County Preservation Alliance, etc. are mapping the future of Lawrence with or without the approval of the vast numbers of property owners in Lawrence and throughout the county.
Why not just force the planning commission and the city commission right now to either give a no-strings-attached "yes" to the Nieder Acres petition or a no-deals-attached "no."
Why play games and try to project a false image? Quit suggesting everyone in the DLI likes Target, and that they want Target to come to Lawrence when the fact is many in the DLI are opposed to Target, they have tried to get the company to shift sites, and they want to limit any additional commercial development in the area.
And it isn't just Target and Nieder Acres. Planning commission members and DLI, the preservationists and neighborhood groups will find a reason to oppose other commercial development efforts. Horizon 2020 will be even more restrictive than Plan '95 and Target and Nieder Acres are being used as a pawn in a Horizon 2020 scheme to manage and control Lawrence's future.