Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crowd hears airport development plan

September 18, 2007


City residents express concerns for new business park

About 100 neighbors express concerns for a new business park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Developers for the proposed 144-acre business park and commercial development West of the airport answered questions tonight. Enlarge video

Developers of a proposed business park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport on Monday evening were peppered with questions for more than three hours by a largely skeptical crowd.

But Lawrence businessman Jes Santaularia and his team of developers told a crowd of about 100 people gathered at the former Grant School building in rural North Lawrence that plans for a 144-acre business park just west of the airport would be good for the community.

"I'm very proud of my farm heritage," said Kelvin Heck, a commercial real estate agent who is part of Santaularia's team, but also was raised on the farmland near the airport. "I gave this project a great deal of consideration and thought before I became involved with it.

"I think it is a great project, and I think it is an overdue project."

Santaularia told the crowd the development - which would be near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24/40 and North Seventh Street - would produce 1,600 jobs and generate $54 million in taxes and fees for the city during a 20-year period. His team of consultants said at least three long-range plans for the city point to the area near the airport being used as an industrial park.

"We have all these fantastic modes of transportation here," Santaularia said. "It is a great place to build an industrial park."

Neighbors weren't convinced. No one stepped up from the crowd to speak in favor of the project, and afterward several said they still had serious concerns about flooding issues, traffic and how much money taxpayers would be asked to pay for the project.

Several audience members said they were particularly concerned that more details aren't available on how much it would cost the city to extend sewer service to the site, and to improve roads to handle truck and employee traffic.

"I'm afraid it is going to cost the taxpayers a bundle, and we're not going to get anything back," said Wayne Propst, who lives near the airport. "It seems like their plans are just clear blue sky."

Both Santaularia and representatives of City Hall conceded that cost estimates aren't yet available for extending infrastructure to the site. But Santaularia said city officials, not his group, are responsible for developing those estimates. He said once those estimates are completed, he'll be in a position to say how much private money he intends to invest in the project.

Scott McCullough, the city's new director of planning, said City Hall staff members were working on the cost estimates. He said they would be completed before annexation and rezoning requests are scheduled to be heard by city commissioners, which likely will happen in November. But McCullough said the cost estimates may not be done before the project is considered by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in late October.

Several members of the crowd said they thought the project should not be heard by planning commissioners until the cost estimates are known.

The Monday meeting - which was the first between developers and concerned neighbors - also featured comments by Roger Pine, whose family owns the 144 acres and has entered a partnership with Santaularia to develop it.

"Sometimes good stewardship can mean that we do with the land what is best for the community," said Pine, whose family has farmed in the Kansas River valley since 1868. "This is an evolution, and it isn't easy."


Keith 10 years, 7 months ago

"Sometimes good stewardship can mean that we do with the land what is best for the community," said Pine, whose family has farmed in the Kansas River valley since 1868. "This is an evolution, and it isn't easy."

Not easy for us taxpayers expected to pay for the improvements, but Easy Street for the landowners who will profit immediately. If this is such a great idea perhaps it could pay its own way. Or, what about expanding the industrial park already along Lakeside road. Surely the other industries along that road have water, sewer and electric service. There's easy access to the Turnpike via the Lecompton interchange.

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 7 months ago

"There's easy access to the Turnpike via the Lecompton interchange." Not easier than the east Lawrence interchange. Plus there's not 144 acres of industrial lots available between Kasold and North Iowa.

Horizon 2020 & 2050 have identified the best areas for industrial development around Lawrence, and the airport area is one, as is the southwest part of the city. Developing in other places just destroys farm land and encourages sprawl.

Keith 10 years, 7 months ago

Developing in other places just destroys farm land and encourages sprawl.

Actually, the area I'm talking about doesn't include farm land, it's the under used space between Lawrence Paper Co and Kasold. Given the anemic industrial growth we've been enjoying in relation to China, it's big enough.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 7 months ago

"I gave this project a great deal of consideration and thought before I became involved with it," said Kelvin Heck.

From my first hand knowledge of Kelvin, I'd say the consideration concerned strictly how much money he stood to make.

grimpeur 10 years, 7 months ago

Cool. Let the developers pay the advertised revenue up front. Jes and co. to pay $54M to the city and county to get this project started. Taxes will be abated for a 20-year period starting when the advertised 1,600th permanent, full-time job is created. Costs of sewer, road, runoff remediation, tying into existing utilities, etc. to be paid fully by developer in exchange for said abatement.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 7 months ago

Please use the empty developments first. Namely the one in north Lawrence where the driver's license office is. There's also the huge building that houses Combs Custom Cycles and nothing else.

toefungus 10 years, 7 months ago

Is it true that it is the cities responsibility to come up with cost estimates to support a development plan? If I wanted to develop Old West Lawrence into an industrial site, would the city be obligated to come up with infrastructure cost estimates to support the development even if there was no way it would be developed? Or, does the city get to pick and choose the developments they wish to evaluate? This seems like another way to get into the pocket of taxpayers. The developer should have to pay for the cost the city is incurring. Maybe they are and I just don't understand the process.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

The Lawrence citizens MUST know how much this type of project will cost. Make the developer pay for all the costs, and not the taxpayers! I do not agree with the development because it is right on top of the floodplain. The main problem is the amount of impervious surfaces that would be generated from this type of development. A parking garage instead of more parking lots would be a very good idea to minimize potential runoff.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 7 months ago

Hipper than hip: Seriously, you posted that?? Do you think that the proposed development is not going to destroy some of the most viable farmland in the area? Do you think that the Waldorf school out there, and the children that attend it, is not going to be affected? We have plenty of overdeveloped areas in this town that are just sitting there empty in the name of "progress" and "evolution". The only thing that is evolving with these spaces is that Lawrence is becoming a boomtown for developers that want to make a pile of cash while the citizens foot the bill for something that will sit unused. Tanger Outlet Mall. Riverfront Mall. East Lawrence business park. Let's just keep adding more meaningless structures for progress. It's only money, right? We'll make more...

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 7 months ago

build a bigger airport then I don't have to go up to kci all the time now how is that for lazy hee hee.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 7 months ago

I've been boggled for some time that this area was pegged for industrial development in the Horizon 2020 and 2050 plans.

Didn't the consultants which drew up the Horizon plans bother to consult the flood plain maps? Go look at the Tee-pee: The high water mark for 1951 will be well over your head

While there are lots of industrial facilities in flood planes, they are there mostly to gain better access to water. Just personally, I'd want anything I built there to be on 8+ feet of fill, which would make flooding in north Lawrence a lot worse.

Dan_Matthews 10 years, 7 months ago

hipper_than_hip posted:

"Horizon 2020 & 2050 have identified the best areas for industrial development around Lawrence, and the airport area is one, as is the southwest part of the city. Developing in other places just destroys farm land and encourages sprawl."

Ummm, what do you think will be destroyed when they "develop" Pine Family FARM?!?

Seriously though, I was at the meeting last night (I am the handsome gentleman about a third of the way through the video... ;-) ) and I did not see or hear anything that makes me think that this is good for (North) Lawrence. We do need the extra "developed" space to sit idle when there are already dozens of places to move businesses and light industrial into already.

There are two areas in North Lawrence already that have little or no tenants. Destroying good arable farm land for more "development" is a waste of space AND money, both private and public.

There are too many negatives associated with this project to out weigh the positives.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 7 months ago

I will agree north law. needs something, but I am not sure business park is the answer.

HMcMellon 10 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Heck's and Pine's ancestors were farmers, but these guys no longer qualify. Pine has been scrapping off valuable top soil and leaving behind poisons for the past decade, when he gave up potatoes for chemical lawn manufacture. Now, he has become politician/developer.

It now seems clear that he got himself elected to office in order to have more clout to push his development agenda. He doesn't represent the interests of the people. In fact, he represents the exact opposite and seeks to increase our taxes to pay for all the infrastructure and flood control costs that this project will generate.

The Pine family seeks to dishonor its ancestors and ruin the future food producing capabilities of our community. What will future generations do when the price of fuel becomes so high that they can't afford to import food and our best farmland is filled with ugly big boxes that employ virtually no one? Further, it will cost hundreds of millions in tax dollars to keep our extremely fertile bottomland from flooding. That's why citizen group after citizen group has voted to not allow development in the flood plain.

Obviously, Roger Pine and his family have no respect for the democratic actions that have called for not developing the flood plain. They only respect using their power and influence to bowl over the people and make us pay higher taxes so that they and their developers can suck up our hard-earned tax dollars. I'm tired of seeing my taxes keep going up just so a handful of people can get filthy rich. Enough is enough.

JohnBrown 10 years, 7 months ago

The personal comments against Roger Pine are unwarranted and unproductive to this discussion. One item that must be resolved before the Planning Commission makes a decision is how much will the infrastructure costs to the taxpayers be? Without this, the "Planning" Commission would not have done its due dilligence. Free markets should push organic farming ahead, unfortunately, in this case, free markets also depend on zoning. The Kaw flood plain in that area is prime agricultural ground, and the people, thru the local governments should make a decision as to whether such ground is subject to future permanent removal via paving it over, or should be retained for value-added agriculture. Once that decision is made, free markets would do the rest.

HMcMellon 10 years, 7 months ago

You can call them "personal comments" if you are inclined to put up a smokescreen, but to nearly everyone else, they are facts. Pine is no longer a farmer and has betrayed a long-standing family tradition of preserving farmland. He is also betraying the taxpayers, who will have to pay for all the infrastructure and flood control measures to put an industrial development in a place that was never intended for that purpose. Pines actions are very transparent. Further, the facts and actions by this farmer-turned-politician-turned developer are very relevant to the discussion. To think otherwise is like saying we should not consider the fox's taste for raw chicken when we turn the hen house other to him.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Where is the study that says this is necessary? Citizens need impact studies from uninterested parties who are not from KCMO or Lawrence.

Dan_Matthews 10 years, 7 months ago

max1, about your link, so Pine gets subsidies, so what? A lot of farmers get subsidies. What's your point with the link?

I agree with JohnBrown, personal comments, derogatory statements, etc. do not need to be part of any discussion.

Pine can do whatever he wants to do with the land. It's his families' land. Unfortunately he wants to sell it to a party that is less than desirable but it is still his land.

My main disagreement is with the consequences of what they do with the land afterward. Does (North) Lawrence need business growth? Sure! Everybody needs a little business growth! But if business and light industrial space (in North Lawrence) that is already for sale and no one is buying so it, sits idle, that is not growth. That is stagnation. And we the residents of (North) Lawrence do not need stagnation. Especially at the expense of good, arable farm land. Farm land that, in part, help keeps North Lawrence from washing away.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

Based on the comments I am reading it appears few if any people are in favor of the proposed light industrial project on nearly 150 acres in North Lawrence. This area is right on top of the floodplain. This land is agricultural for a good reason. It is some of the best farmland in the entire state. The Lawrence citizens should not have to pay higher taxes to pay for this development when other industrial sites in Lawrence sit half empty or worse.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 7 months ago

You bozo's know nothing of farming. The government is paying people NOT to plant. We have more farmland that we can use. I have a buddy who owns land and makes more money than his payment on it just for leaving it in CRP.

We need more LARGE industrial areas. The old Tanger Mall and the other empty space in N. Lawrence are good for light industrial. This city needs to attract some major players and we have nothing worth showing them. The East Hills is a Joke for a major plant and we have to bribe any potential suitor with tax incentives to build there.

I own land near this proposed park and I'm not sure it's right due to the floodplain issue, other than that, this town needs more large developement.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

Joehawk: Yes, the floodplain issue, and the cost to the taxpayers for the massive infrastructure upgrades are the two major issues I see right now.

Baille 10 years, 7 months ago

"Pine can do whatever he wants to do with the land. It's his families' land."

That's not true. Never in the history of Western civilization has that been true.

Dan_Matthews 10 years, 7 months ago

Baille says: "Pine can do whatever he wants to do with the land. It's his families' land." That's not true. Never in the history of Western civilization has that been true.

Ooooo. So I over-generalized. But it is his land. He owns it. He can keep it. He can sell it. It is zoned agriculteral and commercial (in some locations). He could build a feed store on it if he wanted to. He has already built a lanscaping business on it on the east-side of it. Point is, he can do with it whatever he wants to (legally).

nell 10 years, 7 months ago

Good points on how development to extend the city would benefit adjacent townships and counties, twosides.

As I understand it, the area under consideration isn't even part of Lawrence it would have to be annexed. So, the cost of 'infrastructure' required would also include things like extending police and fire services and the city jobs associated with new roads and utilities and engineering for flood control. Are the nuggets from this supposed gold mine really going to pay for all of this? I don't understand increasing city liability for structure and services on thin speculation of the sort of which hasn't panned out for other similar projects. Of course, the greatest cost would be the irretrievable folly of paving and trying to drain prime farmland and floodplain in the quite possibly vain hope that these ill-suited uses for the land will pay off in improved revenues for the city and quality of life for the residents.

stbaker 10 years, 7 months ago

From what I understand, this project will require something of the order of $42 million for stormwater improvements and $2 million for city sewage lines to be run to the airport, not to mention the road improvements to 24/40/59 to accomodate for the increased traffic flow. These are numbers that have been associated with studies done approx. two years ago, so you know, add on a little for inflation....$54 million in taxes/fees revenue over twenty years....I don't think this is fiscally responsible, because you can bet your boots that Jes is not going to foot the bill for all of the infrastructure improvements that already total more than $44 million. It will cost more to improve the current infrastructure in preparation for the proposed development than the revenue Santaularia predicts will be generated over twenty years. This will be yet another burden placed on the taxpayers of the city of Lawrence and Douglas county. Let's be smart about development people. This is great FARMLAND in a FLOOD PLAIN.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

Excellent post Max1. It just shows that these levees can only withstand a certain CFS before we have some problems. Also, most of the reservoirs are becoming older and filling with sediment as well. The floodplain should stay as farmland. Lawrence has done a good job of NOT DEVELOPING areas in the floodplain. Therefore, their is less of a concern with urban and small stream flooding when heavy rains come. The Kansas City metro area has urban flooding problems because of all the impervious surfaces and concrete in their floodplain and surrounding areas. Too many impervious surfaces in a floodplain is ALWAYS a bad idea.

Mike Ford 10 years, 7 months ago

I posted this comment previously and it mysteriously disappeared without even a banned comment. Where''s BIG BROTHER? All of the area in question was the domain of the Unami Lenape or Delaware People until 1868. Big John Sarcoxie's land to be exact. Falleaf and Journeycake were a stone's throw east of this area in Leavenworth County. The ancestors of these development proponents pushed the Delaware people off of this land into a Cherokee Nation that has currently stripped away the Delaware Tribe's federal recognition. These Delaware people were forced from this area under duress and forced to accept citizenship in the Cherokee Nation without their Delaware legal identity.

Seven years ago when the Delaware Tribe was federally recognized, they pursued a casino venture in this area that Kelvin Heck opposed. Now, these developers are looking to capitalize on destroying some beautiful land that I used to see daily on my commute from Bonner Springs to Lawrence. Land greed and plans in 1868 and the same in 2007. What's changed?

PNUZ 10 years, 7 months ago

There are many questions left to be answered and concerns to be addressed. I think it is best to reserve judgement until more information becomes available. As a community it is important that we do what we can to encourage job growth. If this project has the components to be as productive as stated with their initial numbers, it sounds worthy of our support.

PNUZ 10 years, 7 months ago

twosides - I'm not aware of what was 'promised' at Riverfront and Tanger. That doesn't change my opinion that IF their numbers are accurate it is a good project

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

PUNZ, Are you willing to pay higher taxes to cover the massive infratructure improvements that this type of project would requite? I do not agree with the project becasue it is in the floodplain. However, the landowner(s) should pay for the cost of the development and NOT the taxpayers.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

(require) I typed the last post too quickly.

snowWI 10 years, 7 months ago

Their are too many vacancies at the existing business park(s) and other commercial businesses in Lawrence to be able to quantify if the proposed project would actually be able to attract the suggested number of jobs, and not become half vacant or worse like the other busniess parks in Lawrence. Also, everyone will be waiting to see the final figures about what ALL of this will cost the taxpayers. If the landowner is greedy enough to see all of the acerage then they can pay for the entire cost of the development, and not burden the taxpayer even more. Also, why are they so desparate to build a huge project in the floodplain? I would support a project of this type if it was not IN the floodplain in north Lawrence, but in better location that will not cost the taxpayers tons of money to upgrade infrastructure requirements. Find a way to better use the existing infrastrcture that we already have and eliminate vacancy in existing business parks.

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