A local developer wants to build 62 duplex units north of Peterson Road, but he still has plenty of work to do before construction can begin.
Bob Stephens may want to build duplexes along the Kansas Turnpike, but he'll have to talk it over with his neighbors first.
Stephens agreed Wednesday to wait two months before asking Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners to formally review his plans for building 62 duplex units on 9.1 acres along the south side of the turnpike, adjacent to an industrial building west of North Iowa Street.
The property -- currently zoned for development of 31 single-family homes -- would have to be rezoned for duplex development.
Commissioners were scheduled to vote on the rezoning request Wednesday night, but Stephens agreed to defer the issue until he had time to meet with neighbors concerned about potential traffic, noise, congestion, drainage problems and reduced property values. A meeting is tentatively set for Jan. 14.
But during Wednesday's meeting, Stephens and his hired representative argued that the duplexes would add little traffic to the single-family residential area, and also would fill a needed market niche for affordable owner-occupied housing in western Lawrence.
The duplex units likely would sell for $90,000 to $100,000, Stephens said.
"There's a lot of demand for owner-occupied townhouses at reasonable prices," said Stephens, who has developed 3,500 lots in Lawrence. "You can't find a unit west of (Iowa Street) in that price range."
Many neighbors in the area don't much care about the market. They just want the entire area to be developed with single-family homes, as many claimed they were promised by real estate agents when they bought in the area.
Neighbors collected 73 signatures on petitions opposing the proposed duplex zoning.
As proposed, access to the new duplexes from Peterson Road would come from North Crestline Drive -- a road that heads into the heart of the neighborhood of 66 single-family lots, many of them already occupied.
Rob Kort and his family moved into the area in 1995 and can't stand the idea of having more cars pass his house on the way to the proposed duplexes. He said he can't understand why the property shouldn't be developed with more single-family homes, as developers said they'd do since 1994.
"Nothing has changed, except that they want to sell 62 townhomes instead of 31 homes," Kort said.
Kort said he hoped to convince Stephens to abandon his duplex plans.
In other action, commissioners also deferred consideration of a request to rezone 448 acres of property at Lawrence Municipal Airport.
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.