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Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2007

Farmland plan calls for street extensions

Costs haven’t been figured, but city leaders concede they would be significant

September 27, 2007

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City leaders learn more about Farmland Industries Plant development

City leaders get a clearer picture of what it would take to develop a major piece of land at the east edge of town. Enlarge video

A new plan developed by City Hall begins to show how much work the community may have to undertake if city leaders want to convert the former Farmland Industries plant into a business park.

City planners have released a draft version of a redevelopment plan for the 467-acre former fertilizer plant that shows what likely would be a multimillion-dollar expansion of roads to the area.

The draft Farmland Industries Redevelopment Plan recommends that 19th Street be extended eastward through the Farmland property to connect with the East Hills Business Park and that O'Connell Road and Franklin Road both be extended northward to hook into either 15th Street or 19th Street. Also envisioned is either a new traffic signal or a full-blown interchange with entrance and exit ramps at the intersection of Kansas Highway 10 and Franklin Road.

The plan - developed by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department - doesn't attach any costs to the improvements, but city leaders concede they would be significant. They also said the improvements largely would be the responsibility of the city - instead of a private developer - if it is successful in purchasing the property through the bankruptcy process.

"But we really need space for future industrial growth," City Commissioner Boog Highberger said. "I think the Farmland site is the most logical site. I think I would rather spend our money there than some of the other places that have been proposed."

The city previously has said it is interested in purchasing the property as part of the bankruptcy process, but a date for a bankruptcy auction has not yet been announced.

The new plan is designed to guide redevelopment of the property regardless of whether the city or a private party purchases the property, said Dan Warner, a long-range planner with the city. City and county commissioners ultimately will be asked to approve the plan and insert it into Horizon 2020, the long-range comprehensive plan for Lawrence and Douglas County.

Warner said extending the streets through the Farmland property is important. He said the new streets would provide access to the East Hills Business Park and new businesses that would be expected to establish locations at the Farmland site.

"It might take some pressure off of K-10," Warner said.

Other issues that the plan addresses include:

¢ Approximately 225 of the 467 acres are deemed environmentally clean and have not been affected by the fertilizer operations. The plan is relying on about 1,200 soil samples that have been taken by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to make that determination.

¢ The vast majority of the site should be used for business park purposes. The plan, though, does leave the possibility of a limited amount of retail development - such as a convenience store - to serve employees of the business park. Warner, however, said the plan does not anticipate any retail along a K-10 frontage road, or any retail designed to attract customers from the larger community.

¢ The second largest use for the site should be open space. The plan calls for several areas - including a hilly, wooded area that features a bluff overlooking the Kansas River valley - to be used for open space and trail development.

¢ A third use of the property would be for an expansion of the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. The plan carves out a piece of ground to the east of the fairgrounds and to the south of an adjacent salvage yard to be used for civic purposes.

The Farmland property is the second proposed industrial site that may require the city to invest in infrastructure improvements. Developers who are proposing to convert 144 acres near the Lawrence Municipal Airport into a business park also have said the city may need to make an investment to extend sewer service to the site.

City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he's willing to consider making investments in both properties. He said the city should recoup its costs as land is sold to businesses in the future. Plus, he said the city needs to be aggressive in bringing new jobs to the community.

"I want to look at both sites," Chestnut said. "I don't want to limit what our potential industrial expansion can be. I think more options ultimately will mean more opportunities."

On the Farmland site, there also may be trust fund money that has been set aside as part of the Farmland bankruptcy that could be used to extend infrastructure to the site. The city is counting on using trust fund money to do the environmental cleanup at the site, but they also are hoping to use a separate set of trust fund money to improve roads and utilities leading to the site.

Planners are seeking public comment on the draft redevelopment plan for the property. People can submit written comments to Warner at dwarner@ci.lawrence.ks.us.

Comments

Godot 6 years, 6 months ago

"But we really need space for future industrial growth," City Commissioner Boog Highberger said. "I think the Farmland site is the most logical site. I think I would rather spend our money there than some of the other places that have been proposed."

"....our money...."??????

First of all the city has no money to spend on this. And it isn't the city's money, it is our money!

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Why not bring project costs with the introduction of a project?

Routing traffic through neighborhoods does not make sense. City taxpayers will find themselves forcing families out of homes for street expansion in addition to faster traffic.

Keep it on K-10 and/or route it out around the city using County road 1057 which has an interchange,Church Street which also has interchange, McConnell going south, 1000 rd and 1100 rd.

NO WAY to North Lawrence project. Lawrence does not need that project.

The two polls below reveal not a lot of confidence in the current city commission,county commission or planning commission which may be right on the money. Taxpayers want no more mismanagement of Lawrence,Kansas.

This also tells me that citizens do not see a need for further expansion because there are tons of existing ventures and properties yet to be put to use that are currently connected to infrastructure.

Why raise the taxpayer bill by annexing further plus installing new infrastructure when it is not necessary. This cannot be justified simply because a developer gets a wild idea. My tax dollars say do not do this.

East Hills Business Park has two empty warehouses one that that was built just in case someone came to town. It has been a few years now.

Farmland Industries is on the table and connected to infrastructure awaiting a buyer of which Lawrence may become the owner and if so will likely need to cough up tax dollars to help clean up the site. Whether or not Lawrence becomes owner it will be purchased for development.

http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/aug/what_do_you_think_proposed_new_sales_tax_lawrence/

http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/sep/why_do_you_think_lawrence_growth_lagging/

Some say it's not the taxpayers/citizens business yet it is the taxpayers/citizens tax bills/user fees that continue to increase. As taxpayers have become defacto investors all of this activity CERTAINLY is our business.

The two local polls say to me that taxpayers do not want the money spent on new unproven ideas regarding economic growth and blame local government policies for not producing enough in the right direction. What I've heard so many times is take care of existing infrastructure such as older neighborhoods ,Downtown and make existing areas of light industrial and vacant commercial show solid revenue production before taking on more tax debt under the guise of planning ahead.

The two polls reveal not a lot of confidence in the current city commission,county commission or planning commission which may be right on the money. It is not their jobs to further mismanage this city and county. Taxpayers/Citizens want mismanagement to stop!

New statistics show that the total number of homeowners who got foreclosure notices between April and June hit an all time high. It marked the third consecutive quarter that a new record has been set. This says to me the economy generally speaking is not on solid ground.

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snowWI 6 years, 6 months ago

"snowWI , The site in question is NOT in north Lawrence , but in the south east!"

No, it was one of two potential sites that were mentioned in the article. Why should the taxpayers pay for the speculative investments of developers ON THE FLOODPLAIN. This is completely ridiculous. No jobs are guaranteed for this proposed industrial project in north Lawrence, most of the residents in the area are against the project, and other business parks in the area are half empty or worse.

The Farmland property is the second proposed industrial site that may require the city to invest in infrastructure improvements. Developers who are proposing to convert 144 acres near the Lawrence Municipal Airport into a business park also have said the city may need to make an investment to extend sewer service to the site.

City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he's willing to consider making investments in both properties. He said the city should recoup its costs as land is sold to businesses in the future. Plus, he said the city needs to be aggressive in bringing new jobs to the community

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 6 months ago

Farmland property.

Eminent Domain.

A park.

Bison.

Deer.

Ground squirles.

Birds.

A pond or two.

Prairie grass.

Shelter houses and picnic tables.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 6 months ago

Chestnut commented that he thought the city should recoup it's investment as the land is sold. Now Rob, what a novel idea. I believe that has been proposed with regard to the former property of Wilma Miller which is now East Hills business park. Perhaps, Mr. Chestnut should visit with the county commissioners and the private / public partnership to see how 20 years can pass and nothing is repaid.

chestnut is smoking around the glass mirror and stealing other peoples's comments. If the county starts putting money back from the sale of East Hills lots, then maybe Chestnut would have a precedent to follow.\

How many times do the taxpayers have to be taken for a ride on a hungry horse?

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ASBESTOS 6 years, 6 months ago

Cool posted:

"does this mean that the site will have a storm water/surface drainage cleanup basin so that it does not run-off and pollute other sites, underground water sources, or wildlife ?"

No it will not and does not. KDHE does not care nor do they do anything constructive for environmental or public health issues. All they care about is their paperwork and if they are going to get off early that day. Falsification of paperwork, or incoherent interpertation of laws and regulations to fog the public and to blow enough smoke and BS to cloud the issue, and people in Kansas will ignore it, until there is a cancer cluster.

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honestone 6 years, 6 months ago

"It might take some pressure off of K-10," Warner said.

Great. Take the pressure off K10 and direct the traffic through the residential neighborhoods. Good plan...

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logrithmic 6 years, 6 months ago

Schlock,

How bout we put it in your backyard?

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gl0ck0wnr 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm shocked it took Merrill so long to come up with his usual green collar blabber as an excuse not to do this.

Richard - do you advocate ANY development in Lawrence? If so, where?

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PROAMERICA 6 years, 6 months ago

benjaminlox (Annoyance) says:

"All this means is that it is going to take more time for me to drive to work in OverlandPark from which I earn my living, " I've got an idea.........move to Overland Park and annoy them!!

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benjaminlox 6 years, 6 months ago

All this means is that it is going to take more time for me to drive to work in OverlandPark from which I earn my living, only to spend it in Lawrence. God knows how many stop lights they will put in there. Industry, in Lawrence?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean that the SMART GROWTH / PLACEMAKERS study group missed a spot ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean that the SLT maybe isn't in the 'right place' ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

QUESTION to Dever/ Chestnut / Hack / & AMYX ?

does this mean that you want a THIRD WAL-MART near Farmland ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean that Douglas County will try to get the so called 'green Governor' to have NET METERING so that we can have private wind turbines instead of corporate wind farms available for renewable energy maybe even at Farmland Site ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean that the site will have a storm water/surface drainage cleanup basin so that it does not run-off and pollute other sites, underground water sources, or wildlife ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean the Dever/Chestnut/Hack/Amyx/BOOG will favor 'living wage' as part of the developement ?

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cool 6 years, 6 months ago

does this mean that Mayor Hack is going to back off on the SALES TAX INCREASE ?

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

"the "rule" that allowed 70mph..."

No, it's not 70 anywhere near that area. It changes to 65 about a mile east of East Hills Park, then drops to 45 over by the Knights of Columbus. If you are going 70 on your way out of town near Farmland, then your pedal must be to the metal.

There is a great need for that section of road to be "re-thunk". Serious accidents have happened at McConnell Rd. (a road that get's more and more commuter traffic), and the entrance by East Hills is also problematic. They need to drop it from 70 to 55 instead of from 70 to 65.

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PROAMERICA 6 years, 6 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad (Annoyance) says: "Now, N. Lawrence is much better" ...........I guess this high dollar person who lives on the upperclass side of Liberal city USA has not traveled to N. Lawrence. We do have 4 or five used car lots and of course we do have the brand new Harley Davidson store and 3 other motorcycle places to be so proud of. The streets are a wreck and the oh I almost forgot we do have two fast food places to choose from. I've lived here over 65 years and we always had a grocery to shop at but no longer...........now we have to travel 5 or 6 miles to shop for food. The city taxed the grocery out of existance here in N. Lawrence just as they are the residents. You want to do something with Farmland............sell it to a farmer and have him plow it up and plant some wheat or corn. The only reason the city would want it is so when it is built on they will have many roads they can then build all those new "round abouts" on. The city council get's their kicks from that you know!! "Liberals are proof that not everything in nature has a purpose"

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johnadavies 6 years, 6 months ago

If they put in an interchange out there won't they have to lower the speed limit on K-10? My recollection is that the "rule" that allowed 70mph out there was that there be a certain length between "stops" and they cheated anyway by measuring to Mass.

On the general subject of the "Farmland" site I think it needs to be cleaned up and something "maybe" not so dirty be put in it's place. It would be better that taxpayers (who didn't make the mess) shouldn't put up the money to clean it up.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 6 months ago

Something must be done with the Farmland site. It's a blight. It used to be that when people came to Lawrence through N. Lawrence, it was an embarrassment (rusty paving equipment, used car lots with cars on cinder blocks, etc.). Now, N. Lawrence is much better, but we still have this rusting hulk on K-10 to "welcome" visitors to Lawrence.

I like the plan, and if anyone realistically thinks that the site is going to get "fixed" without our tax dollars, then they are living in La-La-Land. We either throw money at it, or we get used to the idea of looking at it for the next 30 years.

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monkeyhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

November 8, 2006 "Charles Jones cruised through election night unopposed and easily earned a third term as 1st District Douglas County Commissioner.

Jones, a Democrat, picked up 5,637 votes in the 21 precincts in his district. There were 206 write-in votes against him.........

"I'm pretty liberal and it works in Douglas County, but I'm not sure about how it would work statewide," he said."

December 19, 2006 "Douglas County commissioners on Monday gave themselves and other elected officials pay raises amounting to several thousand dollars per individual. Commissioners will see their annual pay increase by more than 50 percent - from $21,507 to $32,552. "

November 18, 2006 "Douglas County residents may be getting ready to play a high stakes game of wait-and-see.

City and county commissioners appear to be on the verge of spending a significant amount of money to purchase the vacant Farmland Industries plant east of Lawrence.

But the public won't know how much money will be spent on the defunct fertilizer plant until after the two governments have committed to sign the check....

No auction date for the property has been set. The bankruptcy court won't set one until somebody agrees to make an opening bid. A handful of private companies have expressed interest in the property, but city and county leaders said they don't think the private sector ultimately will purchase the property."

February 27, 2006 Jones defends no-vote stand

"Of course, the role of the public in public policy is an ongoing debate and there are reasonable people who might agree that election is the right way to handle this matter. OK. But if this proposal merits a public vote, why not do the same for other proposals of similar cost and impact?

Fact is that most taxpayers don't have time to study detailed initiatives and their meaning to our future. They elect officeholders to gather facts, analyze and act on their behalf. And we do. It's not perfect, but I believe the model of electing representatives then holding them accountable still offers the most considerate, deliberative form of decision-making.

The LJW holds that proposals of merit can and should be "sold" to the public. In general, I agree.

If the decision is to require an election, shall we suspend our efforts until then? If we refer to Farmland in a campaign then see the bankruptcy court award the site to a private party, will we be accused of bait and switch? How does a ballot issue capture such subtleties and conditions without risking collapse under its own wordiness?

The LJW rightly noted that my greatest concern is risk of delay, and of failure."

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Bladerunner 6 years, 6 months ago

Extend the Trailer Parks and Junk Yards!

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Bud Stagg 6 years, 6 months ago

Industrial developement on the east side of town means more trucks down 23rd st. Does anyone realize that any chemicals purchase west of lawrence have to come down the turnpike and through town. Get the SLT done and this is not a problem, IF it every happens. In my opinion, the north side, in the floodplain, is a much more "marketable" option to a future industry that wants to locate in Lawrence. Neither option is a great choice.

We do need the developement however because we need the increases in the job base and the non-residential tax base. This town will die if the tax burden continues to be put on the residential base.

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bd 6 years, 6 months ago

snowWI , The site in question is NOT in north Lawrence , but in the south east!

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ASBESTOS 6 years, 7 months ago

The "Trust Fund" from the KDHE/Farmland Agreement can only be used on cleanup. A SMART reporter/Journalist would DO THEIR job and get some info. The info a REPORTER should get is a FOIA request on the amount of the Cleanup Trust fund and how much has been used, and what for. Look at it and if this is going to survey and consultation for roads, that is illegal appropriation of money!

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Before the city takes on more spending it would be best to wait on this project. Not only is it tied into existing infrastructure taxpayers have no idea as to the ultimate cost of clean up which will fall on the wallets of taxpayers. This is an existing resource that should be maxed out before taking on more.

The commissioners should also be taking a hard look at the new green collar industry where government tax dollars for training are available and these white and blue collar jobs cannot be outsourced. Quit looking at Manhattan and take a look beyond cuz Manhattan has a 7.55% sales tax which I contend will move even higher in the future as they seem to be following in Lawrence footsteps. Thinking outside the box and bringing in new and different types of employment seems would be best for the future.

Mr. Chestnut seems to be a typical thinking corporate america CEO....not nesessarily good for Lawrence or the USA economy.

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logrithmic 6 years, 7 months ago

Pro-development, pro-development, pro-developmnent....

I love all this money this commission wants to throw at "growing" our industrial base (translation - take the money of people in this city that work at Wal-Mart, coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, clean businesses, etc., and use it to support PRIVATE investment - again corporate welfare to BUY jobs.

Asbestos is exactly right about KDHE. I have gotten to the point where I trust very little of what comes out of our state agencies. I have no respect for KDOT. They are totally centered on making life easy for large 16 wheelers to roll through our city and neighborhoods on their way to other destinations. I have no respect for the Kansas IRS. I've received notices from them about taxes I owed that if they had only used their brains, they would've never sent, and were subsequently proven to be in error (though they huffed and puffed about blowing my house down). And KBI? Searching kids' cars going to Wakarusa. They earn their pay everyday, I guess. LOL.

So yes, Asbestos, I'm inclined to agree that the testing was probably not enough and that the site consists of seriously contaminated soil that will require a substantial investment just to remediate.

Second, (and I can't believe we agree on this, but I'll hold my nose and say we do), I agree with Marion that this space should be green space. Read my lips Boog - no publicly funded investments in development - I don't care if it is for "light industrial."

And SnowWi has it right - no development on the floodplain. This is just basis common sense.

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gccs14r 6 years, 7 months ago

If Rob wants to be taken seriously about bringing jobs to Lawrence, he should start by stopping the outsourcing of Allen Press jobs.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 7 months ago

The halfwits wrote:

"The vast majority of the site".

I did not know until this very day that the term "site" was plural!

Uh, don't you mean something like "the biggest percentage of the site"?

Or "most of the site"?

Jeez!

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snowWI 6 years, 7 months ago

The farmland on the floodplain in north Lawrence near the airport should stay rural. The majority of residents living near that area did not like the idea of that development when they held the last public meeting concerning the matter. Why should the citizens pay for these speculative developments, especially concerning the proposed development on the floodplain?

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 7 months ago

The Framland site needs to be a park, NOT a developement!

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snowWI 6 years, 7 months ago

Also, the proposed industrial park in north Lawrence will extend the heat island of the city closer to the Lawrence Municipal Airport. They have a temperature sensor that is in a fairly rural area right now and the temperture cools of nicely at night because the surrounding area is rural. The last thing that we need is more impermeable surfaces on a floodplain, and high costs for the taxpayer to provide infrastructure for this type of development. Make the developer PAY if they think the project will be so successful even though the other business parks are half empty or worse.

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pace 6 years, 7 months ago

I think Lawrence needs good industrial sites and here we have a good site that has millions already invested in it. As it sits it is a hazard , back in working order with improvements, we could see jobs and not have the site seep out for ten more years. yes.

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nell 6 years, 7 months ago

"...but they also are hoping to use a separate set of trust fund money to improve roads and utilities leading to the site."

I understood there was a 10M trust fund for clean-up. What is this separate fund? Chad, do you ever do more than type up flimsy, canted press releases? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt - show us your mettle.

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ASBESTOS 6 years, 7 months ago

1200 samples on a 460 acre site is not enough to characterize any form of environmental releases, AND it is certianly not enough to call the 220 some acres "clean". If you look up the Farmland cleanup plan and program, KDHE did NOT clean up to extablished levels. KDHE used the "Risk Based Assessment" cleanup levels. Those were established dependent on the type of development on the property. THAT is wher the city of Lawrence has a problem, in the cleanup plan the cleanup levels were for "heavy industrial", which made the "celanup levels" higher, MUSH higher. This is not clean by ANY stretch of the imigination. Just another example of KDHE LYING about a cleanup, and then baffling the masses with BS.

This is what happens when the Regulatory Agency is acting like a Private COnsultant with Insurance.

What about the Hex Chrome from the HUGE cooling towers that ran for years?

My concern, is that this needs to be developed, BUT PAY close attention to WHAT goes in there. A sports complex would NOT be good for example, or a public place like a park. This is the same BS KDHE pulled with the SFAAP cleanup. Keeping a SUPERFUND site off the NPL by the Governor REFUSING the listing. Yes, Kathy refused to list the SFAAP site, Kansas has a major environmental problem coming up at SFAAP and HUGE liability, because it was illegally TRANSTERED BEFORE cleanup, in violation of the the FOSET Covenant under 102 (C).

KDHE SUCKS!

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snowWI 6 years, 7 months ago

I also support economic development if the developer pays for the costs instead of leaving the cost burden to the taxpayers.

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snowWI 6 years, 7 months ago

Once again, why is their such a rush to put an industrial development on top of the floodplain in north Lawrence. The infrstructure costs for that project alone are going to be massive. The farmland industry site is interesting only because of all the work it would take to redevelop the entire property. I support economic development, but NOT on the floodplain.

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