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Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

City consultants

February 8, 2007

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To the editor:

It's important to distinguish between the recommendations being made by PlaceMakers Consulting (hired at taxpayer expense with the strong support of City Commissioner Sue Hack and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce) and the sustainability group hosted by a successful city grant, featuring land planners and architects from all over the country back in November.

It appears PlaceMakers Consulting was hired specifically in response to the earlier group's recommendations, which are "still in process" of being finished and presented to the city, most of which was not supported by local developers. How strange that Sue Hack doesn't want to wait for the printed results of that fabulous three-day event before hiring another consultant.

What I find particularly disturbing about the hiring of a consulting agency known for its developer-friendly policies is the quiet little amendment attached to the SmartCode proposals being made of "fast-tracking" most, if not all, future development without public input or review.

This amendment has nothing to do with SmartCode and everything to do with manipulating the role of the Douglas County/Lawrence Planning Commission, not to mention neighborhood associations, community input and public scrutiny of developers' accountability.

Oh, by the way, how interesting is it that a south-of-river huge development is being proposed smack dab where a modified South Lawrence Trafficway eastern leg would go, if developers, county and state officials stopped trying to block the completion of this important trafficway?

Hmmm ...

Deborah Snyder,

Lawrence

Comments

hawkperchedatriverfront 7 years, 2 months ago

cowboy, in conjunction with what you say, the school district needs to freeze it's spending or will make no difference how big of industry you bring in. The names you listed, Compton, Brown, Stultz, Fritzel, Hallmark, Packer/Berry, Lawrence Paper(Hill family) Allen Press, don't forget the Simons family and the Schmalburgs, and Moores and the list gets bigger. See if any of them are Friends of the Library.

The names listed could all very well contribute to a private funding of a new library/public auditorium facilty if they wanted to. You don't suppose they aren't as rich as some think?

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cowboy 7 years, 2 months ago

Good post hawk , Lawrence in its current form reminds me of the ramshackle house that the guy who was a bad carpenter just kept adding little rooms to when it really need to be torn down and rebuilt . When I came back home 20 years a go it was a quiet town and had a nice mix of farm , college , and was a great place to raise your kids. Now its a medium size city that hasn't figured out how to get bigger and do it with some class by creating great infrastructure , recreation and entertainment venues , and of course the necessary business growth.

downtown , the same group of tired retailers , BORING . We need revenue growth , big ideas , and some great facilities. I agree the local folks who have made fortunes have returned little , are you listening Compton , Brown , Stultz , Fritzel , Hallmark , Packer / Berry , Lawrence Paper , Allen Press. Time to step up to the plate !

Most seem to frame the debate as devo vs smart growth. This is a really narrow alley to walk in. We need smart business that generates large tax contributions. The city should do all in its power to start making that happen.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 7 years, 2 months ago

cowboy, there won't be much development in Lawrence because the few builders here don't want full fleged developer to come. It might cut into their $10,000 yearly profit. For Lawrence to become a real city in it's own right, it must first have something to offer. At present, basketball, football and bars just won't do it.

With all the talk of history, where is the restored home that is historical and open to the public? Fly around the "state" as the hawk does and the smallest towns have something for tourists to stop and look at. Even Greensburg has the biggest well.

The library idea north of 6th street would be a damm good idea if there were someway to move people across 6th street. Apparently no one remembers how Constant Park became available. Thanks to Frances Constant, widow of Tommy Constant, local builder and developer she made the money available.

Where are those people now? Where are the builders and developers who are willing to contribute to the City of Lawrence? We know who they are when it comes to taking from the City.

The "hawk" is going to perch in a different location tonite to get an eagle eye's view of something going on downtown.

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cowboy 7 years, 2 months ago

With the attitudes and approaches stated here and in the general lawrence " anti this and anti that" groups it is a surprise to me why anyone would want to develop anything here. Those who own nothing telling a property owner what they want done , this is just plain communistic.

Its time to realize that Lawrence isn't all that it thinks it is.

Welcome to Politically Correct University

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cool 7 years, 2 months ago

the 'pacemakers' missed 9th Street hawk ! and North Lawrence, and the East Bottoms, and Burroughs Creek/Learned, and ---- ?

this consultant was brought in by HACK to help sell & spin New Urbanism as a sound byte, Traditional Neighborhoods, and Smart Growth as new 'tools for developers' to obtain approvals by repackaging the process with new names.

Lawrence needs lots of redevelopement of existing areas. OK, so they missed a few. Smart Growth is better than what has been happening but i am not convinced as Merrill warns that our neighborhoods should be 'FAST TRACKED' into accepting quickie approvals.

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JackRipper 7 years, 2 months ago

Hawk, great idea. Why not develop the areas we already have and how did they overlook that spot? Makes more sense then tearing up more beautiful land. Still can't believe what happened to the hill out NW on Kasold. It use to be so beautiful and now it looks like a disaster. Do people really get paid money to design that stuff? Why do that south of the Wakarusa, can't we screw up some less attractive area first?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 7 years, 2 months ago

The "hawk" takes note in what Ms. Snyder reports. Sadly enough, none of the commissioners nor the PlaceMakers are smart enough to realize that the most important place to redevelop is Hillcrest Shopping Center. That area could have housing , retail and be a real asset to Downtown. Fly around as the "hawk" does and glean insight.

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Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Good letter Deborah. That fast track approval would be contingent upon developers sorting all of the problems/concerns before attempting the presentation for approval. That might mean working with all stakeholders including neighborhoods prior to approval. All sounds good so far eh? There are no guarantees as to process or neighborhood concerns written into this fast track critter.

The two week fast track is unacceptable as is removing the planning and city commission from the process. The real estate/development community virtually controlled the entire process for approximately 15 years and our inflated property taxes, over built housing and retail ,sprawl and weird street designs are the end result. Taxpayers can ill afford a return to this process. 15 years of laissez-faire government did not pay off for residential and many small business taxpayers.

Perhaps a six month process with some teeth in a new code that prevents infill from becoming overfill and keeping expensive sprawl in check. Admittedly I did appreciate their time and some of their concepts but slipping absolute control basically back to developers is a no way jose!

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cool 7 years, 2 months ago

YES cowboy deborah is right ! the spin on the Smart Code is early approval with staff and public comment AFTER the approval.

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cowboy 7 years, 2 months ago

I find it interesting that the fast track provision is of concern. Youre saying that if a code is present , the developer meets all provisions of the code , that you should have a right to further review / and or modify the plan submitted or apply other conditions / or reject it.

Thats what we currently have and is exactly the problem in Lawrence.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Good observations, Deborah. And it's a very good indication of what will happen if we return to the good ole days when the City Commission was a rubber stamp for the developers who control the Chamber of Commerce.

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