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.