Because of a protest petition, four votes are needed to approve zoning change.
The Lawrence school district could learn Tuesday night whether its deal to sell the former India School at 23rd and Harper streets can go through.
The district wants to sell the property for a reported $800,000 to Northland Ventures L.C., a group led by developer Duane Schwada, but the sale hinges on the property being rezoned for commercial use.
A valid protest petition containing 73 signatures from residents of the adjoining Anderson Acres neighborhood has been filed, which means a change in zoning will require approval by four of the five Lawrence City Commission members.
Commissioners will consider the rezoning request when they meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
Northland Ventures originally had asked for a high-intensity "C-4" commercial zoning, a category that would allow almost any kind of retail or other commercial development.
But the 5.5-acre parcel is surrounded on two sides by single-family homes, and the plan would have provided little or no buffering to shield those homes from the light, noise and traffic the development would generate.
City planners recommended denying the request, but the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission compromised by recommending a change to a less intense PCD-2, or "Planned Commercial Development" code, that would give planners more ability to review and approve details of the site plan and development.
Northland has not submitted a development plan with its application, but an attorney for the company has said it hopes to build a grocery store with other adjacent businesses, possibly including a drive-through, fast-food restaurant.
If the sale goes through, the Lawrence school district would use the money to offset the $4.1 million it paid for a building at 110 McDonald Drive. The district will move its administrative offices and warehousing facilities into the McDonald Drive building.
Jim Freeman, the district's executive director of business, reported to the school board last week that he thought the India School sale could still go through, even with a lesser zoning classification than Northland had requested.
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