A pair of City Commission candidates differed on the future development of southeast Lawrence during online chats Monday.
City Commission candidates Mike Amyx and Jim Carpenter disagreed about how much land should be set aside for industrial uses in an area near O'Connell Road and Kansas Highway 10. Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners earlier this month approved a plan to set aside most of the land -- 680 acres-- for industrial use. The rest, 250 acres, would be used for new housing.
Carpenter said the proposal made sense to him because the area would be well-served by transportation options that would benefit businesses.
"This will provide us with the opportunity of attracting well-paying jobs that will permit those who live in Lawrence to work in Lawrence, and those who work in Lawrence to afford a home in Lawrence," Carpenter said.
Amyx said he supported some light industrial uses in that area as well, but he was concerned the community might designate too much of its industrial land in one area at the expense of new housing.
"Affordable housing is truly a problem in Lawrence, Kansas," Amyx said. "I am afraid that if we don't respond to this question immediately, there will be no way to truly provide affordable housing for anyone in the future."
In other issues:
- Both candidates said they supported the city's smoking ban, but each said he thought city officials should help business owners add outdoor seating areas to accommodate smokers.
- Amyx said the city should continue its current level of funding to agencies that provide overnight assistance for homeless individuals. But he said there needed to be more discussion with downtown Lawrence merchants about concerns that some individuals are bothering shoppers and store owners. Carpenter said all the city's homeless programs should be based on helping people become self-sufficient. But he also said the City Commission needed to work with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Lawrence Memorial Hospital to assess the need for a new inpatient mental health program in the city.