Downtown Lawrence Inc. and several other local organizations have agreed not to oppose a Target Department Store in Nieder Acres if proposed changes are made to Plan '95 that would allow limited commercial development along the west side of Iowa Street south of 31st Street.
The outline of changes to be proposed includes limiting retail development to 18 acres of the 30-acre subdivision and allowing only non-retail use for the area south of Nieder Acres to the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Wint Winter Jr., an attorney representing Target Stores Inc., says as part of the agreement, Target will ask the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission on Wednesday night to defer until Aug. 25 the company's applications for rezoning, annexation and a preliminary development plan for a store near 33rd and Iowa streets.
The agreement calls for the organizations to ask the planning commission on Wednesday to schedule a hearing on Aug. 25 to consider an amendment regarding Nieder Acres they have drafted to Plan '95, Winter said.
If the planning commission approves the changes to Plan '95 that the organizations have outlined, the groups agree not to oppose Target's application, Winter said.
Besides Downtown Lawrence Inc., individuals representing the League of Women Voters, the Lawrence Preservation Alliance and the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods signed the agreement.
"We support Target and look forward to a plan being developed for the Nieder Acres and the surrounding area," said Earl Reineman, president of Downtown Lawrence.
The agreement calls for the subdivision to be rezoned so the eastern 18 acres would be zoned for retail development and the western 12 acres would be zoned for residential-office development.
The agreement also said the design of the entire area shall be a cohesive unit and show how the existing commercial area at the southwest corner of Iowa and 31st could be incorporated to create a single complex.
Winter predicted the main point of contention on changes to Plan '95 will be on whether the 12 western acres should be designated as part of the planned commercial development. Winter said Target reserved the right to object to the plan amendment about limiting the 12 western acres to office use.
He said the company decided to seek the agreement because most of the opposition to the Target store in Nieder Acres dealt with whether it conformed with Plan '95.
The planning staff has recommended denying Target's applications because they do not conform with the long-range planning guide.
However, the staff also said, "The review and revision of land-use recommendations may be warranted based on recent development and land-use patterns in this area along the peripheries of the neighborhood."
Nieder Acres residents say they are turning to Target because their neighborhood has deteriorated with problems associated with being surrounded by commercial areas, including increased traffic, light and noise, and because of infrastructure problems.
Winter said because of the staff's recommendation and because of growing concerns among city commissioners about the project, he met with members of the organizations to work out the agreement Friday.
Target doesn't think changes in Plan '95 are needed for its project to go forward, Winter said. However, in order to obtain the support of the organizations, the company agreed to delay its applications for a month, he said.