The local planning commission voted Wednesday night against downzoning some North Lawrence property from commercial to residential use.
After listening to opponents who own North Lawrence restaurants, auto repair and recycling businesses as well as those who own commercially zoned land, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission had heard enough.
The commission voted 8-2 to deny the city's request to change 17.5 acres that now carry heavy industrial land use zonings of M-3 and C-4 to a zoning designation of RS-2, which would allow single-family residential uses.
The area, which contains several dozen properties, runs along the north side of Maple Street from North Second to North Seventh Street and the south side of Locust Street from the Union Pacific railroad tracks to North Seventh.
The Lawrence City Commission had initiated the downzoning request for some homeowners in the area.
Linda Finger, planning director, said the idea was to make it easier for homes destroyed by disasters to be rebuilt. It also was designed to hold down the property taxes of some homeowners whose land was zoned for commercial use and to make it easier for them to refinance mortgages.
Homeowner Cheryl Miller, 228 Locust, said she wanted her property zoned residential. But she also supported the businesses in the area who wanted to retain their zoning. Miller suggested spot zoning.
And Steve Glass, of LRM Industries, which owns four lots at 433 Maple, said the city should consider changing zoning only for those who want it.
Meanwhile, because so many property owners said they didn't want a change, the planning staff changed its recommendation to rezone only the 200 block of Maple; the 200 block of Locust, excluding one property; and the 300 block of Locust, excluding three property owners.
However, Commissioner Dennis Snodgrass urged the commission to deny the changes because there was no cohesive plan.
Commissioner Bobbie Flory said she would like to see the planning staff work more closely with the property owners to develop a better plan.
Commissioners Phil Bradley and Mary Giese voted against denying the zoning changes.
Finger said the matter would go back to the city commission on June 13.
In other action the commission:
- Unanimously approved a request to rezone about 30.34 acres north of East 17th Street (extended) from Powers Street to the city limits from RS-1 (Single Family Residential) to RS-2 (Single Family Residential).
- Unanimously approved rezoning four acres at 1805 E. 19th, from RS-2 (Single-Family Residence) to PID-2 (Planned Industrial District) for the Lawrence Humane Society to build a new building and parking lot at the site. The preliminary and final development plans were also unanimously approved.
- Honored Commissioner Norbert Grosdidier, Eudora, who is leaving the commission after serving two three-year terms. The Douglas County Commission has not yet appointed anyone to fill the post.