Plans are under way for a 20-year westward expansion project being developed by Alvamar Inc.
If everything goes right, said Brian Kubota, construction on two lanes of an extended western 15th Street should begin next spring -- hailing the beginning of major western residential and commercial expansion from Wakarusa Drive west to the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Kubota, of Landplan Engineering, which is working for Alvamar Inc. developer Bob Billings and his partners, said they will take their plans to the Lawrence City Commission in two weeks.
The plans cleared the first hurdle Wednesday night, when the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission approved annexing 211.57 acres to the city for residential and commercial development.
The commission also approved rezoning most of the land, in what commission chairman Phil Bradley called "assembly-line zoning," from agricultural use to residential use.
However, the commission voted against the developers' request for a C-5 (Limited Commercial) zoning on 12 acres northeast of the planned interchange of the trafficway and West 15th. The commission initiated PCD-2 zoning (planned commercial development) to have more control of that development.
The proposed annexation will create an irregular western city limit boundary because part of the land -- low-lying drainage areas -- was left out of the request. That area might be used for a golf course or for an open space area, Kubota said.
After the planning commission's action, Kubota said the annexation and the rezoning request will go to the city commission in two weeks.
At that time, a request will be made to form a benefit district to pay for two lanes of western 15th Street. The benefit district would be paid for by the adjacent property owners, Kubota said.
"The city can elect to build the other two lanes, based upon its capital improvements program," Kubota said. "If all goes well, 15th Street would be under construction probably next spring. We will be doing the engineering in the winter."
City transportation planners have estimated the cost of the one-mile, four-lane street expansion to be about $1.57 million.
Kubota said residential development would start in the summer of 1996 and will work its way from east to west.
"In 1967, the Alvamar area started," Kubota said. "It really didn't come under construction and come up for sale until about 1969. And it's just barely completed now, which means it took 25 years to get from Kasold to Wakarusa Drive between 15th Street and 23rd."
He said the new area being developed, which is larger and roughly covers an area from Clinton Parkway to U.S. Highway 40 west of Wakarusa, will take about 20 years to develop.