The battle over a proposed industrial park near the Lecompton interchange of the Kansas Turnpike is being waged on a new front.
Neighbors of the proposed site filed a lawsuit Thursday in Douglas County District Court alleging that the city acted illegally when rezoning the 155-acre site from agricultural to industrial.
Neighbors in the area have long felt that the city did not have the authority to rezone the property unless city commissioners first adopted a new sector plan for the entire area near the interchange.
"It is clear the plan should have been done first and everything else should have flowed from that," said Dave Ross, president of the Scenic Riverway Community Association, which is the lead plaintiff in the suit. "But the city is intent on putting the cart before the horse."
The city's development code does contain language that says a plan "shall be prepared and adopted prior to review" of any rezoning for property that lacks water or sewer service.
The city previously has conceded that no sector plan has been approved for the property - which is just north of the interchange - and that the property has no city water service and no sewer service of any kind.
On Thursday, the city's director of legal services, declined to comment on the lawsuit, other than to say the city would defend the legality of the rezoning.
But previously, Scott McCullough - the director of planning and development services for the city - said he did not believe the provision of the code in question applied because the developer is not asking for city water or sewer service.
Neighbors have argued the city did not have the authority to set aside the code provision requiring a sector plan be completed.
The development group, which is led by Lawrence businessmen Duane and Steve Schwada, has said it will figure out ways to provide water and sewer service to the site without tapping into the city's services.
The neighborhood group earlier this year filed a separate lawsuit alleging that Douglas County illegally allowed the city of Lawrence to annex the property, even though the 155 acres is not contiguous to the Lawrence city limits. That lawsuit is still awaiting resolution. If neighbors prevail in that suit, the city's rezoning actions would be considered null and void.