The fight over a proposed industrial park along the Farmers Turnpike may not be over yet.
Lawrence City commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to rezone 155 acres near the Lecompton interchange on Interstate 70. The rezoning clears the way for an industrial park to develop at the site.
But neighbors in the area are now working to raise money to file a lawsuit alleging that the city broke its own laws in approving the rezoning, the leader of the area's neighborhood association said Thursday.
"I don't understand why, evidently, the rules apply to you and me, but they don't apply to the City Commission," said Dave Ross, president of the Scenic Riverway Community Association.
At issue is a portion of the city's development code that seemingly required the city to hold off on rezoning the 155-acre piece of property until a broader sector plan was developed for the entire area near the Farmers Turnpike.
The development code states that a plan "shall be prepared and adopted prior to review" of any rezoning for property that lacks water or sewer service.
The city concedes the 155-acre piece of property has no city water service and no sewer service at all. But Scott McCullough, director of planning and development services for the city, said his office's interpretation was that the provision of the code did not apply in this instance because the developers are not asking for city water or sewer service.
Ross, though, said neighbors believe that is a bad interpretation because no language in the code suggests the provision can be set aside.
He said his group - which has about 145 members - is trying to decide whether it has enough money to file a lawsuit challenging the city's action. The group already has spent about $15,000 on a lawsuit against the county alleging that Douglas County commissioners improperly allowed the annexation of the property to move forward.
Ross believes a hearing on that lawsuit could happen in January. If the neighbors win that lawsuit, it would nullify the city's recent rezoning approval.
A sector plan is being worked on for the area, but it likely will not be approved before November. The sector plan must be approved by both the city and county commissions.
The development group - led by Steve and Duane Schwada - asked for the rezoning to be approved before the sector plan was completed because they did not want the industrial park project delayed for several months.