City and county planners will have a public meeting in mid-September to gather comments about the Northeast Lawrence Sector Plan.
The meeting will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 17 at Prairie Moon School, 1853 E. 1600 Road.
Over the years, the flat farmland north of North Lawrence near the Kansas Turnpike has been proposed for a bit of everything.
There was the plan for an Indian casino more than a decade ago, the more recent proposal for a major industrial park and long-held hopes that the area would become a hub for vegetable growers and other truck farmers that would produce a bounty of locally grown food.
Now, city and county leaders are starting in earnest to plan for what the 2,000-plus acres north of the city will look like in the next 10 to 30 years.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department has begun work on a Northeast Lawrence Sector Plan. A public meeting seeking input on the direction the plan should follow is set for next month.
“This is an area that has been under some development pressure,” said Dan Warner, a long-range planner for the city and county. “I think that is definitely a reason why we’re doing this plan. I think people want to get out ahead of it a little bit.”
Over the last two years, city and county commissioners have been presented with plans to convert about 140 acres near the Lawrence Municipal Airport into a business park for light industry and distribution centers. Some developers had even expressed interest in longer-range plans to convert up to 900 acres around the airport into a business park.
Those plans never won the necessary approvals from the governments, in part, because neighbors in the area expressed concern about flooding and the loss of valuable farm ground.
Eventually, the city and the county commissions passed new regulations that said if the ground around the airport is used for industrial purposes it should be primarily used by “soil-conserving agri-industry businesses” that would take steps to preserve the ground for future agricultural use.
Warner said the new plan will comply with those regulations.
“This plan will try to provide a little more detail about what all that means,” Warner said.
The plan also will study other areas north of the city. The boundaries of the plan stretch as far north as the Midland Junction on U.S. Highway 24-59 and as far south as the area near North Ninth and Walnut streets in North Lawrence.
Warner said there will be several significant issues planners will consider as part of the process, including what uses are best for property near the heavily traveled Kansas Turnpike, how the airport impacts the area, and how the area is susceptible to stormwater flooding.
Ultimately, the new plan will be presented to both the Lawrence City Commission and the Douglas County Commission for approval.