Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

KU opposes proposed zoning

June 18, 2003


Kansas University and Lawrence officials say they want a joint city-university study group to discuss a zoning proposal that has become contentious in recent weeks.

In a letter to City Manager Mike Wildgen, David Shulenburger, KU's provost and executive vice chancellor, called "fundamentally flawed" the proposal to create a special university zoning designation for areas where KU abuts neighborhoods.

He said the proposal would have restricted signs at Memorial Stadium, the design for the School of Education's J.R. Pearson Hall, the Malott Gateway at 15th and Iowa streets and the size of banners outside GSP-Corbin Hall.

"I question whether the vibrant, nationally prominent university we enjoy today would have been possible had this proposed zoning ordinance been implemented 25 or 30 years ago," Shulenburger wrote. "With this proposed ordinance, the record instead might be one of costly delays and inefficient logjams, conflicts over state and city regulations, and inability to respond in due time to educational needs."

During Tuesday night's City Commission meeting, Mayor David Dunfield said he agreed with the need for a joint study group. He suggested the committee consist of two KU representatives, two city staff representatives, one city commissioner and one city planning commissioner.

Dunfield said he had asked City Commissioner Boog Highberger and Planning Commissioner Terry Riordan to be on the committee and that they had agreed.

Dunfield also called for an end to airing disputes via letters and news releases. He called the relationship between KU and the city on planning and zoning issues a delicate one.

"It's no more acceptable for the city to treat KU as just another local landlord than it is for KU to behave as if it's a law unto itself," Dunfield said.

A letter from Jane Eldredge, a Lawrence attorney hired to represent the university, sparked a series of letters about the zoning issue. Eldredge initially wrote June 6 that if the city proceeded with the zoning proposal, "the university will have no choice but to enter what likely will be a protracted legal battle."

Wildgen responded in a letter May 9 that if the commission approved the code, "it will be because such a regulation is legally appropriate and the balanced interests of both the university and the Lawrence community are best served by such regulation."

In his letter, Shulenburger also said he feared the issue would strain city-KU relations, which were tested last year during the debate on whether to build scholarship halls in the 1300 block of Ohio.

City commissioners also moved on other items of business:¢ The Lawrence Transit System will establish a special pass Kansas University students can purchase to ride city buses.Under the plan, KU students can purchase a T sticker for their KU on Wheels identification card for an annual fee of $20. The sticker would be good for bus rides for the academic year.¢ City officials are ready to accept bids for renovating the historic former Carnegie Library building at Ninth and Vermont streets.City commissioners released the project for bidding so that work can begin in late July. The work is expected to be completed sometime in November.The renovation work will include repairs to retaining walls and sidewalks on the property, window repairs, a new roof and roof insulation.

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