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


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.


Michael Capra 9 years, 10 months ago

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

compmd 9 years, 10 months ago

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

OnlyTheOne 9 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.

xyz 9 years, 10 months ago

" 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"???!!!!

Bud Stagg 9 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,...

Staci Dark Simpson 9 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

maxc 9 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 and click on the K-10/Farmers turnpike link. Schwada owns more land in the area. This is just the tip us the iceberg.

dubstep 9 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.

Richard Heckler 9 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

JohnBrown 9 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.

Boston_Corbett 9 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?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 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

hipper_than_hip 9 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.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.