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Archive for Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Partnerships will help develop green space, industrial parks

June 20, 2006

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Voluntary landowner participation and partnerships with developers and other entities will be used to find future business and industrial sites and preserve open green space, according to a recently completed study presented Monday to Douglas County commissioners.

The study was prepared over the past three years by the ECO2 committee, which consists of business and community leaders. It was a spinoff of the ECO2 Commission established by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce in 2000.

"It is through the efforts of many in the community who made contributions," committee chairwoman RoxAnne Miller said of the report.

Under the plan, proposals for open space and industrial or business parks would come from specially appointed committees. Final decisions on the sites would be made by county commissioners and Lawrence city commissioners.

An industrial/business park requires an average of about $20 million of investment, of which 75 percent is recovered over time as the park is inhabited. Under what the plan calls "net equity," every $20 million of investment will mean another $5 million for investment in open space. That assures funding for both goals.

There are several possible funding mechanisms for the investments, including a sales tax, special assessment benefit districts, general obligation and revenue bonds and tax increment financing.

"I'm so impressed with the work," Commissioner Charles Jones said. "I think it positions us very well."

The plan establishes objective criteria for making decisions, Commissioner Bob Johnson said.

The ECO2 committee will take steps to educate the public about the plan over the next several months. It also will tweak the report based on comments it receives and finalize the report early next year, Miller said.

In other business Monday, commissioners:

¢ Approved a contract with DGM Consulting Services not to exceed $142,200 for services associated with phase one of the renovation of the Douglas County Courthouse.

¢ Approved a confidentiality agreement that allows them to inspect the defunct Farmland fertilizer plant along Kansas Highway 10 and related documents.

¢ Tabled a decision on petitions for the Southeast Lawrence Sanitary Sewer Main Benefit Districts for Fairfield Farms East additions.

¢ Approved the county's participation in a pilot project to use an oblique imaging data base from Aerial Cartographics of America Inc., at a cost of $39,000.

The project will involve 3-D aerial photography of land parcels in Lawrence, for which Cartographics ordinarily would charge $62,000.

¢ Approved purchase of a skid steer loader for the Public Works Department at a cost of $33,287 from KC Bobcat Inc.

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