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Archive for Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Annexation may pave way for industrial development

Neighbors oppose plans for site near Lecompton interchange

Planners for a new industrial park northwest of Lawrence hope to clear a major hurdle at City Hall tomorrow night.

June 17, 2008

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Proposed business park location

Proposed business park location

Each morning and evening the most suburban of scenes takes center stage in this rural "neighborhood."

Commuters with foam coffee cups, flip phones and backseat carpoolers travel up and down the ramps of a turnpike interchange that pops forth from a rolling pasture land. Larger-than-average homes with fences of split rail instead of chain link punctuate the landscape that mixes suburban expatriates with men who still make a living from the land.

Depending on your view of geography, you are either in rural Lawrence or rural Lecompton. But for the time being, it is still clearly rural.

Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting tonight may clear up the geography considerably, but may muddy the rural question. Commissioners are being asked to annex about 155 acres just north of the Lecompton interchange on the Kansas Turnpike. It would be the first step in a plan to convert the property into an industrial park.

Developers - including Lawrence businessmen Duane and Steve Schwada - contend the site has better potential than most to attract a major employer, such as a distribution center or other business that relies on good interstate access. The property is less than 1,000 feet from Interstate 70.

Some city commissioners agree.

"I certainly believe industrial can be an appropriate land use out there," City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said.

Neighbors, though, have argued to planning commissioners, county commissioners and city commissioners that the area isn't ready for development. They've said the area is a gateway for the city that deserves more planning.

Some city commissioners agree.

"I think it is premature," City Commissioner Boog Highberger said. "One problem is it is just so far from city services."

The site is about 1.5 to 2 miles from city water and sewer service. But because the developers are voluntarily seeking annexation, the city is not obligated to provide them with city infrastructure within a specified time period. The developers aren't asking for sewer and water service to be extended immediately. If an extension of service is needed, the city legally could require the developers to pay for it, City Manager David Corliss said.

That is not likely in the near term, though. Instead, developers said there are industrial users - such as distribution centers - that would not need city utilities.

But even supporters of industrial development in the area said the issue of city services is one that will have to be carefully considered. Chestnut said he wants developers to agree in writing to prohibit certain types of uses at the site. He said that would include all commercial uses such as gasoline stations, unless there were city utilities on the site. He also said heavy manufacturing would be unlikely for the area without utilities.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable approving several types of uses out there because the systems aren't there," Chestnut said.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. If the annexation is approved, city commissioners will hear a rezoning request for the property in the next several weeks.

Unlike the annexation issue, property owners near the site can file a petition protesting a change in zoning. If the petition contains enough signatures, it would require the rezoning be approved by a supermajority of four commissioners instead of the normal three.

Comments

hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 10 months ago

The city wants it annexed to capture the real estate taxes. The city is desperate. What they fail to realize is that they could capture boceaup bucks with some real inner city infill. The sewers are in place, the streets (well as they are called) at least something in place, water lines but real money is being run off. I fear that competition is not welcome in Lawrence, it really isn't.

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 10 months ago

"Actually if this is such a great idea why can't it just be done under the county? Why would the city need to annex it in the first place except maybe those services they say they won't need will be needed?"....Good question. Does anyone know the answer?

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Lynn731 5 years, 10 months ago

It is a stupid idea. If city services were in place, it may not be, but they are not. Trying to build a truck stop by I-70 makes sense if there was water, and sewer available there, but there is neither. That is why the idea sucks now. Thank you, Lynn

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JackRipper 5 years, 10 months ago

JOEHAWK, I believe it was that logic that told us for the last fifteen years about building a bedroom community, build it and the tax base goes up. Well maybe it did but it is sure hard to find where the improvements are. Yes, we understand why the trucks don't like it but the train doesn't like to run without tracks and there are no tracks in the middle of the country. Since he also has plans to destroy everything around 6th and the bypass why not keep all the crap together? What logic except the terrible desire by commuters who are suffering for the stupidity now do we have to build anything someone comes up with to make a fast buck under the guise of creating jobs? Are there no standards at all? Actually if this is such a great idea why can't it just be done under the county? Why would the city need to annex it in the first place except maybe those services they say they won't need will be needed?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 10 months ago

will "not_holroyd" be there for the circus meeting with the dancing dogs that don' bark and the bloomin' flowers...hint about next hot spot in town: just south of the Chancellor's house. a couple of rentals on big lots and another couple of properties on a knoll ala west coast building sites. check it out Joehawk, THIS TOWN doesn't know what it waants, it only knows that when someting is proposed it is not what they want. the commission, the planning staff and the neighborhood groups are doing a First Class AAA job of running off everything. I have walked a lot lately and am aghast that the city commission is trying to figure out what to do in 2009. Why not take the lead and have guts, Mr. Dever and make a motion that all sidewalks will be replaced, improved or laid from 11th and Mass to 23 and Mass. God, get some guts on the commission! Decture county and Oberlin have gutsy people in their community. j

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Bud Stagg 5 years, 10 months ago

That building sits empty because they can't get trucks there from the west. No one wants to locate there. You same people block the trafficway that they need to bring the trucks through from the west. When will you people realize you have to compromise somewhere. You can't keep strangling this town forever. Let some businesses come here and they will pay taxes and then we can get the roads fixed,...

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dubstep 5 years, 10 months ago

Anyone know how exactly the city could require the developer to pay for the extension of city services? And would this be limited solely to sewer and water and such, or could road improvements be included in this as well? We need to know how much the city stands to spend on this project, and how much could be put on the private firms and the developer. But would these expenses make the development unfeasable? The numbers need to be made clear and if the city approves the development, it needs to safeguard itself from pocketing the expense. Will this happen? I am not so sure. If anyone wants to see a big commission meeting with lots of public comment, this will be it. Come one come all to the City circus.

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xyz 5 years, 10 months ago

"...it would require the rezoning be approved by a supermajority of four commissioners instead of the normal three."Just wondering which of the commissioners are the "normal three"???!!!!

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hipper_than_hip 5 years, 10 months ago

The commissioners are still upset that they let American Eagle escape to Ottawa, and they're trying to land more warehouse jobs in the hope that there is another American Eagle type firm wanting to move to Lawrence.Boog isn't the only commissioner smokin' - the whole bunch is high.

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Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree Jack. How can we build more when there are empty warehouses already? We don't need another $8 hour factory. Wakarusa does have plenty of room. Sounds like another money wasting idea

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JohnBrown 5 years, 10 months ago

Besides land use planning, the city ought to do some financial planning, specifically, a financial ROI (return on investment) for annexation such as this.

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JackRipper 5 years, 10 months ago

maxc true, they do have it mapped out for the future and it wasn't by coincidence he owns all that land but right now we are feeling the squeeze and don't really need to speed up new development before taking care of the old problems like Farmland. And what about the new sewer? $88 million that we aren't sure is feasible right now as people continue the cry to grow and haven't figured out yet that the kind of growth we have had has been horrible for the average citizen in this town. Roads look like war zones but they sure are pretty out west, so big and wide. Put the industrial park right there, somewhere from sixth and Wakarusa to the SW. We would take care of so many problems because then we wouldn't have to hear about how we need the bypass and their work would be right there. A bunch of Butler buildings ought to be an improvement over the beige cancer.

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not_holroyd 5 years, 10 months ago

Where is Hawk this morning?Maybe he has optioned his property which is worth far more than for which it is appraised and taxed, and taken his gains and gone west to prospect for a new place in Logan County, Kansas, where there is no university, no chamber of commerce, no CDBG, no roundabouts, no neighborhood association, no homeless shelter, no industrial parks, and no tax abatements.Should be heaven to him. And he needs peace and tranquility.Say hi to your neighbors today. And give your dog a hug.

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maxc 5 years, 10 months ago

This area will be developed ... someday. It seems that the plan is ahead of the facilities available. The city may not "immediately" have to run city services the 1 or 2 miles to the area, but eventually the tax payers will have to come up with the money. What industry would invest in an area with no city water or sewers? This is part of a larger plan. See lawrenceplanning.org and click on the K-10/Farmers turnpike link. Schwada owns more land in the area. This is just the tip us the iceberg.

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JackRipper 5 years, 10 months ago

I honestly can't believe Chestnut said:"I certainly believe industrial can be an appropriate land use out there."Hey how about building it west of Wakarusa where all those hodge podge buildings are that look like they fell randomly out of the sky? Wakarusa, 6th, and 15th west are nice and humongous, perfect for truck traffic, especially now that the ol SUV will become few and far between. If it is ok to ruin the peoples lives who live where this proposal is why isn't it ok to rezone all that west of Wakarusa for industial and let the people who create this stuff live with it! Shoot then you wouldn't have to commute either.

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compmd 5 years, 10 months ago

If they can't develop Lawrence Municipal Airport, there's NO way they can develop this area.

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JackRipper 5 years, 10 months ago

Unbelievable! They have a building they can't rent in East Hills that they have to provide incentives and under the table deals to get any interest and a contaminated old industrial use park directly to the west that has rail and they want to build it out in the middle of the freakin country! As far as taxpayers how about all the money spent building the west arm of the bypass so we could enrich the developers before we looked at what made more sense by building it on the east side so all that traffic that you all whine about could have completely detoured the city and would have been there for the current industrial park. Now we are going to reward the developer again in an other pie in the sky and totally base on truck transport which some of you might want to look into and see what happens to truck transport at times like this and most likely in the future of high oil costs.

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OnlyTheOne 5 years, 10 months ago

Ah, the Lawrence City commission what a bunch of bubble-headed-boobs. I can't believe honest intelligent individuals can't see the realities of this proposal - it's in the wrong place at the wrong time and poorly (if at all) planned. Nothing more than a means to put a few more $$$ in the Schwada's pockets at the expense of everyone else!Wake up goofballs you say this is perfect for "industrial" use but you don't want "industrial" jobs in Lawrence!This may be the "perfect location" and if so it will still be the perfect location in five, ten or twenty years however many it takes for city services to get there AND tenants to show up needing a location.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 10 months ago

And, of course, once I again, I have to ask the question no one will answer: How has 30+ years of unbridaled sprawl benefited the vast majority of citizens; those who don't own businesses and aren't real estate investors? All we've gotten out of our new Giant Town is more traffic and higher taxes. And, once again, none of the Ususal Suspects will answer that question, because they know the answer is, "nothing."

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Reality_Check 5 years, 10 months ago

No taxpayer dollars? Are you kidding me? Who will pay for road improvements on surrounding roads as it grows? Who will pay for fire fighting? Then schools. Us! This is the way it works every time. They always act like it's private, and we always get stuck with the bills in the end. It's time to say no to more sprawl unless it's completely self-sustaining. This town is BROKE for all practical purposes, and needs to start acting like it. Plus, I have yet to see how industrial parks are needed in a time when we don't make anything in this country. Please tell us exactly what industries are ASKING for these FOUR (yes 4) industrial parks currently under consideration? (Airport, East Hills expansion, Farmland, and now this.)

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northtown 5 years, 10 months ago

Build It !! Lawrence needs it,more jobs in the future..Better site than any of the others offered,like Pines??????? And any place on the east side is no good without the bypass finished!!!Good Luck Lawrence,you have to many Merrills.....

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 10 months ago

merrill is just once again saying N_O to anything that will help Lawrence grow... He's happily miserable on his little corner of prospect avenue... hoping that one day we are all just as miserable as he is.

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Michael Capra 5 years, 10 months ago

back away from your bong.What tax dollars are being used not one dime

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

STOP wasting citizen tax dollars * STOP allowing the Chamber/real estate/development industry dictate how the city growsSTOP supporting local corporate welfare*All of the above = unacceptable fiscal irresponsibility

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