Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2003

City takes intersection plan slowly

Commission delays decision on Sixth, SLT proposal again

November 19, 2003


A long-delayed development proposal for the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway was delayed again Tuesday.

The Lawrence City Commission last week approved a "nodal plan" that designates the eastern half of the intersection for commercial development. But commissioners wouldn't give approval Tuesday to a proposal that seemingly fits that plan.

"I would rather we take this commercial piece very slowly so we understand exactly what we're doing and don't end up having to retrofit something further down the road," Commissioner David Schauner said. "I'd rather get it right the first time than regret it later."

The plan proposed by Diamond Head Limited Partnership would develop more than 60 acres on the intersection's southeast corner, with half zoned for commercial purposes. The proposal was made more than a year ago, then delayed while city staffers developed the nodal plan.

"We have the whole plan, and now we're saying, 'Oh no, that's not quite fine,'" Commissioner Sue Hack said. "They've done what we asked them to do."

But Planning Director Linda Finger said the Douglas County Commission was delaying approval of the nodal plan. The western half of the intersection is outside Lawrence city limits, and Finger said county commissioners were concerned the commercial properties were being withheld from their jurisdiction.

Vernon Jarboe, a Topeka attorney representing Diamond Head, said the county was unlikely to alter the nodal plan significantly.

"Really, we've waited a year quite patiently for this process to go through," Jarboe said.

"We hope you would consider this tonight," he said. "We feel like we've done a lot of hard work to get us here."

Commissioners, with only Hack opposing, decided to delay approval. They said a study session with county officials was needed before the project was moved forward.

"Although I think this zoning ... should be approved," Mayor David Dunfield said, "I don't think I'm ready to approve this portion of it tonight."

Rick's Place gets permission to relocateRick's Place has a place in Old West Lawrence.The Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday granted a waiver allowing the bar to locate at Ninth and Illinois streets. The bar would be located in the same strip mall as St. Sophia's Orthodox Church; the waiver was needed for the bar to locate so close to the church.The Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. opposed the waiver, saying it didn't want the bar nearby."A waiver is not in the best interest of the church, the neighborhood, the schools or the city at large," said Mike Goans, an Old West Lawrence resident. "A waiver will adversely affect the area of the Ninth and Illinois neighborhood forever."But Mayor David Dunfield noted St. Sophia's had not registered opposition to the waiver.Dunfield was joined by commissioners Sue Hack and Boog Highberger in granting approval. Mike Rundle and David Schauner were opposed.Because the bar is near historic sites, Rick's Place now goes to the city's Historic Resources Commission for review.Tax abatement approved for AmarrThe Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a 55 percent tax abatement for Amarr Garage Door's expansion.The abatement will help finance Amarr's $17.39 million, 80-job expansion of its factory at East Hills Business Park.Some commissioners said they had problems with the tax abatement policy but said they wouldn't delay approval of Amarr's request."We think they are an excellent provider of basic jobs for our community," said Larry McElwain, chairman of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "We believe this ultimately brings new wealth to Lawrence workers."Conservation easement for golf course approvedThe Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to buy development rights at a west Lawrence golf course for $280,000.Under the plan, 55 property owners surrounding Orchards Golf Course at 3000 W. 15th St. will split the cost of a "conservation easement" forever preventing construction on the site.The city will pay the cost upfront, then collect the fees in special annual assessments from the 55 property owners.Neighbors had worried the property would be developed, creating flood problems in the area.They volunteered to submit to the city levy to pay for the land, which will otherwise remain under the control of the owner, Ed White."This is a really creative solution to the problem," Commissioner Boog Highberger said.

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