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Archive for Saturday, November 18, 2006

Area around airport also may see development

November 18, 2006

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The former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant isn't the only industrial project in town surrounded by questions.

The other prime industrial/business park area that economic development leaders have their eye on - the area surrounding the Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Lawrence - now is being questioned by planning commissioners.

"The conversation has been whether that site is really financially feasible, and I believe our general inclination is that it is not," said Planning Commissioner John Haase.

At a planning commission study session last week, commissioners directed staff to reduce the amount of industrial space that is shown around the airport on a key land use map that will be used to plan for new streets in the city.

Haase said he raised concerns about the area because he thinks major stormwater drainage improvements will have to be constructed in North Lawrence before new industrial projects can be undertaken. Otherwise, the new development will worsen flooding problems in North Lawrence, he said.

A North Lawrence drainage study conducted by the city determined there are about $40 million worth of drainage projects that need to be done in North Lawrence. Mayor Mike Amyx, though, said it would be a mistake to believe that all the projects must be completed before any new growth can happen in the area.

"We don't have to say no just because those improvements aren't in place right now," Amyx said.

Amyx said the area around the airport is important because it provides easy access to Interstate 70, which many industrial businesses have said is desirable.

Economic development leaders have pushed for the site as well. The airport area and the Farmland site were identified as the top two areas for future economic development by the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board. The board has set a goal of bringing about 1,000 acres of industrial ground online within the next five to six years.

Mike Maddox, chairman of the board, said the community lacks large lots of 100 acres or more to offer to companies that could bring jobs to the city.

"If there is a larger industrial opportunity looking at the community, we really don't have a very good place to put that opportunity," Maddox said. "That's kind of the crux of the problem."

Maddox said the area around the airport potentially could provide around 500 acres of industrial development.

Haase said that he was concerned that the area might be too expensive to provide sewer service to, in addition to his drainage concerns. He's once again pushing for the southeast area, a little more than 600 acres east and south of Kansas Highway 10 and O'Connell Road, to largely be developed into a business park area.

Economic development leaders, though, say that does nothing to provide the community with land that has easy access to I-70. But Haase said the property would fill that need if the community were able to get a state commitment for an eastern bypass project that would go from Noria Road to I-70. That project would require a new multimillion-dollar Kansas River bridge. It likely would face stiff competition for state funding from Johnson County interests who may want a Kansas River bridge to tie in more directly with the massive redevelopment of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant near De Soto.

Because planning commissioners were meeting in a study session format, no vote actually was taken on the idea to reduce the area around the airport. Planning commissioners are expected to take that subject up at one of their two December meetings Dec. 18 or Dec. 20.

Comments

compmd 7 years, 5 months ago

As someone who is frequently at the Lawrence Airport, works there on occasion, and flies out of there, I have a few thoughts.

1) The roads surrounding the airport are mostly gravel. From 24-40 up North 7th Street (its Douglas County 9 to the south of 24-40) the road is recently resurfaced chip coat. However, beyond the turn off to the KU Hangars/Alligator/LifeStar/etc. its not so great. The east-west road to the north of the airport is a gravel road as well.

2) Does the city plan to enlarge the roads around the airport? How are they going to go about that? Are they going to annex land or exercise eminent domain?

3) Where are the developers thinking of building? Are they going to stay away from the approach to runway 33? There's a lot of ILS equipment around there...

4) Is the increased development expected to increase air traffic at the airport? If so, is the city prepared to enlarge the airport facilities? Would a larger tarmac be built? What about the FBO?

The city should worry about putting stuff in that decrepit mall in North Lawrence instead of spending millions on new infrastructure and utilities to put up something new. I wish I would have known about this before reading about it in the LJW.

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Pilgrim 7 years, 5 months ago

Posted by right_thinker (anonymous) on November 18, 2006 at 11:11 a.m.

Not sure you guys, but there may be some protected wetlands around the airport, anyone know?


There is or was a catfish farm northwest of the airport. Most of what you think is wetlands around the airport and along 24-40 Highway used to be the Kaw River channel. Now it just collects water when there is enough rain.

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Pilgrim 7 years, 5 months ago

Posted by suesay (anonymous) on November 18, 2006 at 12:21 p.m.

"Better yet demo a large portion of the Tanger Mall and put a COSTCO with a grocery store for our North Lawrence brothers and sisters"

Great idea! Or at least find SOMETHING to do with that space...


Sure, if you want it to look like downtown Topeka. There is no retail in North Lawrence because it would fail miserably. What used to be there did.

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solsken66 7 years, 5 months ago

Great dream cool! State/Local governments seem to be only concerned about expanding roads instead of considering mass transit. Always thought that a rail system would be great from Topeka.Lawrence.KC.

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macon47 7 years, 5 months ago

jesus god, more wetlands. i suppose their is a cemetary too

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cool 7 years, 5 months ago

we don't want airport improvements. we want light rail to Kansas City and Topeka !

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snowWI 7 years, 5 months ago

I believe that KU owns some of the land that is north of the Lawrence Municipal Airport. The area near the airport is some of the lowest elevated land in the county at around 800ft. However, $40 million is a lot of money to add the necessary infrastructure for sewers and drainage.

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couranna1 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh Yeah that'll happen hahaha

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Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

I think the figure of $40 million for storm sewers and drainage (not sanitary sewage) was for ALL of North Lawrence not just for the area around the current airport. Wasn't there a major upgrade to North Lawrence drainage in the mid 90's (yes 1990's) right after the flood where the railroad bridge crosses by Johnny's?

No grocery, or other retail operation, is likely for North Lawrence when access to the vast majority of Lawrence residents is restricted by the bridge at 6th Street. Although I am sure the PLC grocers will be willing to move The Merc from 9th and Iowa out of a sense of community spirit!

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suesay 7 years, 5 months ago

"Better yet demo a large portion of the Tanger Mall and put a COSTCO with a grocery store for our North Lawrence brothers and sisters"

Great idea! Or at least find SOMETHING to do with that space...

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

Not sure you guys, but there may be some protected wetlands around the airport, anyone know? It looks like there is anyhow along Hwy. 40....it doesn't take much for a small area to federally protected.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't necessarily disagree with you, RC, but why doesn't your list include the $40 million in storm sewer upgrades that would be required before any extensive development can take place in this flood plain?

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Reality_Check 7 years, 5 months ago

I have been pushing the town to concentrate development around the airport for over 20 years. It just makes the most sense:

  • We already own much of the land.
  • Rail service is nearby
  • Companies with airplanes like to locate their facilities near airports for obvious reasons
  • I-70 is nearby.
  • Mud Creek is right next to the site, so the storm sewers could be directed to it.

But, this all makes too much sense for this Haase guy, I guess.

I know, let's buy a contaminated industrial site on the east side and build THERE instead.

"Money, need money. Please give me more. I'll make a deal with you: You give me more money, and I'll spend it. How does that work for you?" -- Peter Politician

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macon47 7 years, 5 months ago

north lawrence cannot support a retail business for another 10 or more years. get real if it was profitiable, some one would do it

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Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

If merrill can get COSTCO to build anywhere in Lawrence I'll let you date either my teen aged son or daughter depending upon your sexual orientation.

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Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Better yet demo a large portion of the Tanger Mall and put a COSTCO with a grocery store for our North Lawrence brothers and sisters.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 5 months ago

they should fix the stormdrainage problems no matter what I am sure the people over the bridge would say thankyou and please. Yes we have an airport why don't they look at making the airport bigger not jumbo jet bigger but bigger?

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couranna1 7 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence has an airport? how funny Never knew that I know put a Walmart there

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macon47 7 years, 5 months ago

IT ALWAYS HAS AMUZED ME THE kinder and gentler whiney liberal posters demand PERFEKTION. The sit for hours PUTTING TOGHER A POSTwith perfect punktuion and grammer, plus SPELCHKER. Man, you guys need to get a life, go see borat or Buy anew play station for gods stake. Or better yet, go outside and stand in the sun. Maybe you could be a bit of red on your neck, And become a bit diverse.

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macon47 7 years, 5 months ago

BOZO, i am also curious, why do your panties get in such a wad over ALL CAPS? if it hurts your eyes, just dont read the post, seems simple to me. some of you posters are all too sensitive. you need to take a hot bath and play with your little plastic ducky wucky

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm curious, TRUTHLAWRENCE-- how come your all caps key didn't work when you were entering your user name?

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truthlawrence 7 years, 5 months ago

HASSE AND HIS COMMIE BUDDIES HAVE SPOKE,,THIS IS WHAT I MEAN NO ONE WILL COME TO LAWRENCE WHEN THE ANSWER IS NO,,VOTE THE THREE COMMIES OUT OF OFFICE AND SEND THE NUT CASES ON THE PLANNING COMISH PACKING

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