To the editor:
According to the lead story in Sunday's Lawrence & State section, a recent survey finds that "many developers believe city departments often give contradictory information when it comes to building or planning issues." This lack of consistency was further cited as a major reason why "some developers had labeled the city 'business unfriendly.'" One possible remedy? Create "a development ombudsman position" to ease the burden for developers.
Given that it took more than two decades to fill in between Iowa Street and Kasold Drive, but half as long between Kasold and Wakarusa drives, and now half again as long between Wakarusa and the South Lawrence Trafficway, it doesn't seem developers are having too difficult a time turning western Lawrence into our very own facsimile of Johnson County's cookie-cutter subdivisions and strip shopping centers. Take a drive on South Iowa Street, or along Wakarusa Drive or west of George Williams Way or north of Peterson Road to see how much the developers are struggling under the weight of the city's requirements.
With all their money, resources, planners, engineers and lawyers, developers have the deck stacked in their favor. As Commissioner Sue Hack is quoted, the purpose of the various city offices is "balancing the community's desire to grow in a planned, high-quality manner." Thus, while they might put out the welcome mats for developers, our city officials need not themselves be doormats for those developers.
How about an ombudsman for the thousands of residents who can't afford to hire their own planners, engineers and lawyers to counterbalance the developers?