Archive for Monday, September 8, 2008

City Commissioners to consider plan for future industrial parks

City commissioners struggle with how important prime pieces of farmland should be to Douglas County's future.

September 8, 2008


City Commissioners to consider plan for industrial park in SE Douglas County

City commissioners are set to debate where the businesses of the future should locate in Lawrence. Enlarge video

Right now the intersection of Kansas Highway 33 and U.S. Highway 56 in southeast Douglas County looks like many other rural corners - a couple of houses and a couple of pastures.

But in the future it could be the home to a new industrial park designed to take advantage of the planned transportation hub being built by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in nearby Gardner.

At least that's what a new plan that city and county leaders will soon debate says.

Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting Tuesday night will consider adopting a new industrial chapter of Horizon 2020, the long-range comprehensive plan of the city and county.

The new chapter lists 11 general areas of the county that seem suited for future industrial or business park development. Economic development leaders are urging approval of the plan.

"We don't have a lot of land in our inventory right now," said Beth Johnson, vice president of economic development with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "We really need to increase that inventory in order for businesses to even look at us."

The list of possible locations include several that have been talked about for years. Property near the Lawrence Municipal Airport continues to be listed as a possible site, despite commissioners being lukewarm to a recent proposal to rezone approximately 145 acres in the area to allow for industrial development.

Both commissioners Rob Chestnut and Boog Highberger said Monday they were open to leaving the airport location in the plan, but said that doesn't mean they are ready to support the current proposal for development in the area.

"There is probably some room for industrial development in North Lawrence in the future, but you still have to take into account the specific drainage issues and the impact it would have on prime agricultural soils," Highberger said. "I don't think this plan commits us to any specific sites."

Other sites listed in the plan include: the former Farmland Industries property east of Lawrence; the area south and east of O'Connell Road and Kansas Highway 10 near the Douglas County Jail; the area near the Farmers Turnpike and Interstate 70; the area near the South Lawrence Trafficway and U.S. Highway 40 west of Lawrence; an area near the Midland Junction north of North Lawrence; two areas along K-10 highway near Eudora; an area near Baldwin City; and an area near the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and U.S. Highway 56.

But several commissioners and economic development leaders have said they want to make sure that other sites not included in the list of 11 can be considered in the future too.

"I don't want this to be an exclusive list," Chestnut said. "I don't think there is anyway for us to anticipate what all the relevant sites may be 10 years from now."

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. If city commissioners approve the plan, it still must be approved by Douglas County commissioners before it becomes final.


jayhawklawrence 9 years, 7 months ago

It is good to see that this critical need is being addressed so that we can have hope for a future that doesn't rely on bars and fast food restaurants.

BigPrune 9 years, 7 months ago

repaste,The "new sewers pumpstation and other improvements" are typically paid for by the developers (including new streets). So, before you give the City credit, perhaps your post should be thanking the developers instead.

EarthaKitt 9 years, 7 months ago

Copy editor cop says:"I don't want this to be an exclusive list," Chestnut said. "I don't think there is anyway for us to anticipate what all the relevant sites may be 10 years from now."ANY WAY

repaste 9 years, 7 months ago

Hey Lawrence, just wanted to say thanks for new water tower, new sewers pumpstation and other improvements you have made in west lawrence this past year. I know they were very expensive and you could have spent the money on other things, the T, sidewalks, bike paths, street repairs, libraries, etc. I know growth in Lawrence has been very low, if any, some residential and commercial areas in east lawrence may decay more now due to overbuilding, but we will able to make an awful lot of money on this land now and, well, money means a lot to us even though we already have a lot! Your tax dollars are a important, as long as we don't have to pay our share! Thanks again suckers, Doug, Duane, and other friendly developers

LogicMan 9 years, 7 months ago

The County is a higher sovereign than the City; the County, unless it chooses otherwise, is not bound by decisions or ordinances of lower sovereigns. I hope that the County Commissioners realize these things, and make their plans and decisions with the best interests of the whole county in mind.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 7 months ago

The commissioners are in bed with the developers and do whatever the developers want them to do. The same goes for the planning commissioners and the city commissioners.

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