Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Airport business park plan deferred

City Commissioners have more questions than answers when it comes to a proposed industrial park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

August 20, 2008


Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday balked at a proposal for a new industrial park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport, saying the project has more questions than answers at this point.

Commissioners unanimously deferred - likely for 60 to 90 days - a rezoning request for 144 acres near North Seventh Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 after expressing a variety of concerns about the project.

"There are a lot of financial questions that I'm not real comfortable with yet," said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut.

The developers of the project - led by Lawrence businessman Jes Santaularia - had sought to make the project more financially appealing to the city by dropping a request that the city pay

$1 million to help extend water and sewer lines to the site. But commissioners said they wanted further study of the economics of the proposal because the city would still be obligated to do about $400,000 worth of drainage work in the area.

Commissioners also expressed concern about whether the proposed drainage work for the area would be adequate to prevent increased stormwater flooding in North Lawrence.

Ultimately commissioners said they wanted staff members to provide additional information on several issues in the next couple of months. The issues include:

¢ A detailed analysis of the economic impact the project may have on the community and the city's finances.

¢ More information on drainage issues surrounding the property.

¢ A discussion on the value of preserving the farmland in the area, which is generally considered to be prime soil.

¢ An overview of the major issues surrounding increased urbanization of the rural areas of North Lawrence.

Commissioners also want an analysis on whether reducing the size of the project would make the project more feasible. The developer has expressed interest in reducing the project from 144 acres to about 65 acres, but has stopped short of formally changing his proposal.

In other City Commission business, commissioners unanimously approved rate increases for city water, sewer and trash service that will take effect in 2009. Water and sewer rates will increase by about $1.50 per month for the average water user, while the monthly trash collection fee will increase by 51 cents.


Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

Farmers Turnpike and Airport Park need to be placed on hold until long after Farmland Industry property is developed and filled with tenants. Lawrence is likley stuck with this property so may as well clean it up then develop the property. Then sue Farmland for over cost of clean up.Focus on Farmland Industry please. It has infrastructure,several hundred acres and connects to East Hills.East Hills has been sitting on a NEW 600,000 sq ft building for near a decade now...has never had a tenant. Some question as to whether or not tax dollars helped fund construction. Is this voodoo financing? East Hills still has some properties still available for development. Obviously there is not a rush of tenants begging to locate in high tax dollar country. Maybe if big time tax abatements are handed out like water which defeats the purpose of bringing in light industrial that pays higher property taxes. Taxpayers would never see relief.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

The airport park could also send floodwater to the airport which would be dumb.

SloMo 9 years, 10 months ago

We have plenty of industry in Lawrence which receives generous tax abatements, while we, the homeowners, shoulder the burden of paying for public services. Maybe less growth, and a more equitable distribution of the tax burden is in order. Also,this city sure does plant an awful lot of flowers, then we all bitch about the busses going under. How about the city trims it's decorating budget?

justforfun 9 years, 10 months ago

He does own several mini storage projects all over the country!!!

Bud Stagg 9 years, 10 months ago

The Farmland developement is a joke. No business that requires transportation to or from the west would ever locate there. The East Hills building is empty because there is no highway access to the west. That is why something along I-70 is so important. Scrap Farmland, run away

candlelight 9 years, 10 months ago

Good job City Commission. You are doing the right thing by getting answers. While the developer withdrew his request for the City of Lawrence to spend $1 million to get water to the proposed project he did not say he would provide water, nor did he provide drawings or detail on the smaller project he talks about. Could it be a mini storage project? At some point the land seller may expect the developer to get something going or get out of the deal so some agricultural oriented tenant could offer an acceptable project or does the smaller project just lock this developer onto the land owner as a sign of progress in their arrangement? Most mini warehouse operations do not need water or sewer. Does this developer intend to provide water, sewer and drainage? Are these questions going to be asked by the Commission? The answers could make a difference in how they vote. All are pleased the Commission wants to know "at what cost and to whom?" There are a number of suitable sites in Lawrence easily and quickly made ready if there is really a tenant. In the meantime, it looks like we will continue to hear from these speculators seeking to warehouse ground with their mini storage units that do not require water or sewer but strangle sellers and city as they have allowed themselves to be sucked into this scheme. Six more years to listen to this seven year agreement. As the developer twists and turns, covering all numbers and colors on the roulette table as the owners of this priceless land are worn sick. Perhaps they will be thankful to get him off of them and out of their family lives. 2015 is on the horizon.

somebodynew 9 years, 10 months ago

Does anybody know what, if anything, happened with the Farmer's Turnpike zoning??? I just heard at the last minute it was on the agenda, but could not make the meeting on short notice.Thanks in advance.

KsTwister 9 years, 10 months ago

East Hills is empty because 15th as an access road is junk (county road for a change). The wrecks going into the park are just as bad from the entrance. Think it's planning that messed up there but it could be remedied.

justforfun 9 years, 10 months ago

Let me say it first.!!!Joehawk will get hammered for his remarks.LMAO

KsTwister 9 years, 10 months ago

For once something made good sense in this city. If concrete is the last crop you plant then plant it on acreage that has no prime farm value (i.e. East Hills was a good start). Thank you commissioners.

HMcMellon 9 years, 10 months ago

The idea that storage units or warehouses will provide jobs is absurd. If we want to bring in jobs, we should encourage companies that provide a high ratio of jobs to space such as those involved in technologies. And we should encourage those companies with high jobs-to-space ratios to locate in places that already have city services. All this airport park boondoggle would produce is a blight on the landscape, an increase in flood waters, a loss of extremely valuable food-producing land, and an increase in our taxes. Good decision, Commissioners, but I wish you would just firmly say "no" and quit encouraging these ding bats. Please don't ever give in to those with self-serving plans to raise our taxes and destroy our best farmland with foolish projects that are based on an old economic model when gas and food were cheap.

Bud Stagg 9 years, 10 months ago

Whatever! Just another delay in getting more jobs and higher paying taxepayers into town. Just stall and stall until we need to raise our property or sales taxes yet again.This may not be the project to approve, but they need to approve something. Right now Lawrence is not on the radar for any major industry to move to town. Our neighbors like Ottawa, Gardner, DeSoto are attracting major employers to their towns and building new infrastructure, parks, etc. Lawrence continues to raise property and sales taxes just to be able to patch potholes. This town is paralyzed with fear of success.You bitched about developers over building houses, but you won't let them build for industrial or commercial. Get your foot off the throats of the developers. In order get some higher paying jobs and a higher paying tax base, you are going to have to give a little people. You don't have to give away the farm but at least give what the other towns are giving.

MattressMan 9 years, 10 months ago

Everyone talking about losing prime farm ground needs to get a grip. You've already lost a bunch of this prime ground to a sod farm, this development will replace a bunch of grass being grown. Also would save the federal taxpayers thousands of dollars each year in subsidy payments to Pine.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.