Freenet proposal seen as too risky
City commissioners aren't interested in partnering with Lawrence Freenet to expand wireless Internet access in the community.
A majority of city commissioners Tuesday evening said the proposal by Freenet presented too much financial risk for the city. Freenet was asking the city to back a $4.9 million private loan that Freenet and its for-profit partner are seeking from a bank.
Freenet was offering to start a program to provide free wireless Internet access to Lawrence youths in exchange for the city's help. But commissioners said they feared that Freenet would not be successful in adding the necessary number of paying customers to make the project work, and that the city would be responsible for paying off the loan. Commissioners said they hadn't seen hard numbers showing that large numbers of Lawrence youths did not have adequate Internet access.
Commissioners were concerned that the proposal was not fair to other Internet service providers operating in the Lawrence market. Both AT&T and Sunflower Broadband urged commissioners to reject the plan based on financial concerns and fairness issues.
Sunflower Broadband is owned by The World Company, which is the parent company of the Journal-World.
Revisions approved to Bauer Farms plan
Plans for a "New Urbanism" development of retail, offices and residential units at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive cleared another hurdle at Tuesday's commission meeting.
Commissioners agreed to revise the preliminary development plan of Bauer Farms, slated for the northeast corner of the intersection. The major revisions to the plan involved adding a right-in-only access point along Sixth Street, just east of Wakarusa Drive. It also involved expanding an access point along Sixth Street near Champion Lane, and allowing for a median break along Wakarusa Drive to allow cars wanting to turn left out of the development to do so.
Developers of the project said the new access points were critical to landing retail tenants for the project. The developers said they're close to finalizing a lease with CVS Pharmacy to be the anchor tenant for the development.
Commissioners approved the plan on a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Boog Highberger opposed. He said the commercial part of the project could do a better job of adhering to New Urbanism design, which is a concept that mimics older, more traditional neighborhood design.
Commission quorum remains at 4 members
Commissioners routinely approved a provision establishing the City Commission quorum at four members.
The provision allows two members of the commission to discuss city business privately without violating the state's opening meetings law.
A quorum is the number of commissioners needed to hold a meeting. State law prohibits a majority of commissioners from privately discussing city business. State law normally would set the quorum of a five-member commission at three members, but cities have the ability to pass a special ordinance changing the number.
The city has passed such an ordinance since the mid-1990s.