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

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 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.

cowboy 8 years, 3 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.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 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!

cowboy 8 years, 3 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

cowboy 8 years, 3 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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