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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 1999

PLANNERS PUT INVERNESS PARK IN LIMBO

July 8, 1999

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Planners don't buy plans for new shops on Clinton Parkway.

Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners don't want any more retail shops in southwest Lawrence, and their opposition could kill plans for a proposed $150 million development in the area.

Wednesday night, planning commissioners rejected a request from Dial Realty-KC to rezone nearly 10 acres at the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive for commercial uses.

The company had envisioned a new restaurant, drug store, dry cleaners, sub shop, tanning salon and copy center operating at the corner, to help bankroll a 160-acre development to be known as Inverness Park.

But despite Dial's insistence that the entire project -- featuring new homes, duplexes, apartments, patio homes, a bike path, assisted-living units and medical care, a park, professional offices and neighborhood shopping -- would be appropriate, planning commissioners didn't buy it.

On a 5-4 vote, they told Dial that the area envisioned for commercial uses should be dedicated, instead, for offices or apartments.

Bottom line: Residents in the area don't need any more shops, with Hy-Vee and Miller Mart each within a half-mile either way down Clinton Parkway.

"A half mile is a walk around the block in my neighborhood," said Ron Durflinger, a planning commissioner. "It's not that big of a deal."

But the lost commercial possibilities are a very big deal for Dial, which reportedly agreed to buy the 160 acres of vacant agricultural land for at least $4.5 million. The property -- zoned for agricultural use since 1966 and owned by the Getto family for generations -- is considered to be the last prime parcel of open development land in southwest Lawrence.

Losing commercial zoning would drain $2.7 million from the project, rendering Inverness Park "not feasible," said Jim Harpool, Dial's president.

"They can let it sit there for another 33 years," Harpool said, leaving city hall.

Dial representatives could take their case to the Lawrence City Commission next month, but they would need a 4-1 vote to secure commercial zoning.

"We have to figure out how much they've hacked away and see if it works," said Bob Welstead, president of Dial Realty Corp. and a partner in the project. "We have to go regroup."

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

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