Douglas County Commission on Wednesday night expressed support for the city of Lawrence annexing land northwest of town for an industrial park.
It wasn't unanimous.
Commissioners Jere McElhaney and Bob Johnson said they backed a resolution that states annexation will not hinder or prevent growth in the area north of the Interstate 70 Lecompton interchange.
"I cannot find in any way for this to hinder proper growth," McElhaney said.
"I'm comfortable that this is in the best interest of Douglas County," Johnson said.
But Commissioner Charles Jones voted against the resolution, saying there was not enough information about the development proposal for the nearly 160 acre site. He said he was unclear about rezoning issues and noted that there were a number of questions about the effect an industrial site would have on water supply and availability.
The annexation by the city is sought by a development group led by Steve and Duane Schwada and Stonewell Farms LLC. The site is at the northwestern corner of North 1800 Road and East 900 Road.
Last month, Lawrence City Commission followed state annexation laws by voting to let the county commission decide whether the annexation would "hinder development in the area or any other incorporated city in the county."
Several residents from the area of the development proposal spoke out against the annexation.
At the end of the meeting, Jones criticized city leaders for taking on the annexation at a time when it is considering a sales tax to pay for the infrastructure needs it already has.
"I cannot for the life of me see how anyone would be willing to support that sales tax unless or until we begin to draw strong connections between sound land use management and fiscal responsibility," Jones said.
Jones said he supports economic development and is willing to spend more on it. But he further criticized the city for taking on the annexation issue while it has been slow in taking action to get the former Farmland property ready for industrial development.
"Instead of a focused, prioritized, rational economic development investment policy, we're just kind of running around responding to applicants, throwing things out and thinking 'God help us, this might work,'" Jones said.
County commissioners could sign a formal document concerning support for annexation as soon as its Monday meeting. The city still has to take formal action to annex.