Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sector plan to focus on farmland to city’s north

The Northeast Sector plan is being put together to determine what the land will be used for. The city is asking the public to give suggestions. The land consists of 2000 acres north of North Lawrence.

August 30, 2009



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.


rbwaa 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm appalled that farm land is being priced out of production.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

How will any of this be paid for?

Taxpayers need to Grab Your Wallets.

Unfortunately Lawrence has had not the greatest success with development paying back the taxpayers. Instead it has become taxpayers subsidizing the uncontrolled growth industry.... not acceptable.

Lawrence is over stocked in light industrial,residential and retail which gets into taxpayers pockets leaving taxpayers with less expendable cash. Lawrence needs to STOP until Lawrence is effectively back on track with substantial economic growth from existing overstock.

Lawrence,Kansas and taxpayers throughout Douglas county can no longer afford to sit back quietly with economic displacement aka tax dollar money hole.

Danimal 8 years, 7 months ago

Every time I think Lawrence's leadership can't get any dumber they completely out do themselves. If we're going to be exploring developing north Lawrence shouldn't we also look at building another route across the river?

middleamerica 8 years, 7 months ago

It's 2009: do we really still need to debate whether urban sprawl is BAD and open space + locally grown produce + self-sustainability is GOOD?

Boulder, CO is the same size as Lawrence and located in the same proximity to a medium-sized city (Denver) as Kansas City. It is MUCH more livable than Lawrence in a number of ways that can't all be attributed to its gorgeous setting. Why is that? Here's one example:

Boulder has protected open space surrounding the city (very similar to the land north of Lawrence) from development and made it accessible to the public through trails. This started in the 1960s. Meanwhile, formerly open land west of Lawrence (including apple orchards) has been developed into McDonalds, Wal-Mart, drive-through banks, and parking lots. Huge amounts of space are wasted in these developments on street set-backs and useless swaths of "lawn."

The land in north Lawrence could be used as a combination of public trails and farmland that produces food for the city and creates health and quality of life benefits for the public. Who does a business park benefit? The bank accounts of those who own it and those who develop it.

As a city, we really need to think about how much we value our space and what lies at stake here.

nonbeliever 8 years, 7 months ago

Douglas County has the same problem as Leavenworth County --Those in charge see farm land as a "vacant canvas" ( Lv. Co. commissioners speaking of ground along CR. 1 in Leavenworth County) just waiting for their "vision" of what it can be turned into....No recognition of what beauty or life that exists there now... Can your leaders not see the vacant buildings in North Lawrence--perhaps they could revitialize an area instead of destroying productive farm land.

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