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Archive for Friday, May 29, 1998

PLAN FOR NEW BANK SITE WINS APPROVAL

May 29, 1998

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First State Bank & Trust plans to build a new drive-thru bank at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Monterey Way.

Traffic plans for a new drive-thru bank drew plenty of interest from Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners, who agreed to support the project's layout as long as access along West Sixth Street is limited to right turns in and out.

During their meeting Wednesday night, commissioners recommended approval of a preliminary plat for First State Bank & Trust's 1.4-acre site at the southwest corner of Sixth and Monterey Way.

The bank plans to build a 5,000-square-foot full-service branch bank at the corner, in the heart of a growing banking area serving western Lawrence. If all goes as planned, officials hope to start construction as soon as fall and be open sometime next year.

``There's a lot of growth, and that's an attractive feature for a commercial bank,'' said William Grant, general counsel for the Tonganoxie-based bank, which serves small businesses and individual customers.

``We think it's a real opportunity for us.''

Planners, however, were focused on how customers would get in and out of the bank.

Planning staffers, in fact, had proposed limiting access to the site to a single curb cut along Monterey, about 180 feet south of Sixth. The recommendation was backed up by officials from the Kansas Department of Transportation, who cited concerns about the safety of westbound traffic on Sixth cutting across two through lanes of traffic -- plus a left-turn lane -- to get into the bank.

``We realize this is really a significant impairment to this site for a bank,'' said Linda Finger, the city's planning director, ``but we're looking at the safety of individuals on Sixth Street as well.''

Mike Keeney, of the Peridian Group, said his design for the site included a ``pork chop'' access point on Sixth. Such designs restrict access to right turns in and right turns out.

Without the second access, customers likely would get frustrated with vehicles backing up on Monterey and blocking access to and from the bank.

``This is a very important issue for us,'' Keeney told commissioners. ``Tonight, this project either dies or goes forward. ... This will make it a win-win for everybody.''

Commissioners sided with Keeney's assessment and backed the plans on a 7-1 vote. The plat now goes to the Lawrence City Commission for approval, likely sometime next month. A site plan also must be approved as well.

The bank already is making plans to expand its current Lawrence location, 609 Vt. Keeney filed plans for the expansion Wednesday at city hall, in time for them to be considered next month by the Historic Resources Commission.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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