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Archive for Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Candidates discuss farmland protection

Most don’t want development on ground near airport

March 10, 2009

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A majority of City Commission candidates have concerns about development occurring near the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

At a forum Monday hosted by the North Lawrence Improvement Association, five of the eight candidates said they were concerned about allowing development on prime farm ground near the airport.

“I believe wholeheartedly in protecting prime farm ground,” commission candidate Aron Cromwell said. “Ask yourself what would be the highest and best use of that ground if oil prices are $10 or $20 per gallon in the future and food prices are out of control.”

Candidates Mike Amyx, Price Banks, Dennis Constance and Gwen Klingenberg also expressed concerns about development on the property near the airport. A Lawrence development group has submitted plans to build a business park on about 150 acres near the airport, but those plans have been hotly contested by neighbors.

Candidates James Bush and Lance Johnson both said they would want to know more about the proposed project before saying whether development on the property would be appropriate.

The issue has become broader in recent days after a Lawrence-based aviation firm — DAR Corp. — expressed an interest in building a facility to construct prototype aircraft on the airport grounds.

The company has asked the city to perhaps spend several million dollars to extend water and sewer service to the airport to accommodate future development at the airport. That idea also created concern for some commissioners.

Banks, Constance and Klingenberg said the proposal raised questions about whether the extension of utilities to the airport would put prime farmland near the airport under too intense of development pressure.

“It creates the question of whether we would be fueling the drive to develop on top of all that prime ag ground,” Constance said. “And once you lose that, you can’t replace it.”

Both Johnson and Bush, though, said they thought the city needed seriously to consider helping DAR expand at the airport.

“When I first heard about DAR, my initial response was that this is a great opportunity for the community,” Bush said of the project.

In other news from the forum:

• Cromwell pledged, if elected, to donate his City Commission salary — after taxes — to area social service agencies. Commissioners are paid about $9,000 per year.

• Most candidates said the city’s economic situation was not yet serious enough to consider layoffs of city employees. Most said they supported leaving some vacant positions at City Hall unfilled, but only Lance Johnson spoke about seriously examining layoffs.

“In my business we have to make tough decisions,” said Johnson, who owns a civil engineering company. “I’m going to look at that. City Hall won’t be immune.”

• Candidate Tom Johnson did not attend the forum, which attracted about 40 people.

— City reporter Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362. Visit his Town Talk blog at LJWorld.com/weblogs/town_talk/

Comments

fou 5 years, 9 months ago

I find Aaron Comwell's statement terribly interesting. He stated “I believe wholeheartedly in protecting prime farm ground,” yet, Aaron was deeply involved in the development of the Meadowlark Subdivision in Eudora with Brett Fritzel. I also believe that Mr. Cromwell was a realtor that helped sell the lots. This land was prime farmland and it didn't seem to matter to Aaron then, perhaps it was because he was building his own house right in the middle of it. In fact, the subdivision, which is completely south of the main population center of Eudora, is surrounded by "prime farmland" that is still farmed today. I think there are some old LJ Articles in the Archives that mention his involvement in the project. None the less, I think Mr. Cromwell speaks out of both sides of his mouth, especially when it's convenient to his cause.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"None the less, I think Mr. Cromwell speaks out of both sides of his mouth, especially when it's convenient to his cause."

I'm not sure what his involvement was in this development, in which his wife's family was heavily involved. But I can tell you that he's quite sincere in his statement reported in this article. If you need a clarification from him, I suggest contacting him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"Candidates James Bush and Lance Johnson both said they would want to know more about the proposed project before saying whether development on the property would be appropriate."

Rest assured, they would rubberstamp any proposal that came before them.

cowboy 5 years, 9 months ago

The city has done such a magnificent job on the city core they now want to manage farmland , help me jusus.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

" How about we annex the airport area in return for a commitment to not annex farm land in some other area? Anyone ever thought of that compromise?"

That's not a compromise. That's some of the best farmland in the entire world, and it's in very short supply. There are other options for industrial development, but not for farmland of this quality.

ConstantlyAmazed 5 years, 9 months ago

So let's see if I've got this right Ocean. One candidate actually turned prime Douglas County farmland in to a subdivision, but he's not the one you're concerned about?

Maybe Bozo can chime in. We always appreciate the balanced and fair insight.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

DAR should go to the bank and fund the entire expense. It's only speculation as to how many jobs and when that MIGHT occur.... not good enough for me. No more corporate welfare with my tax dollars.

The private airplane business is in the tank which has resulted in lay-offs throughout the industry.

The DOW has yet to bottom out which means many many more will lose their play money for airplanes.

This economy will not repair itself anytime soon. Let's get real.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

"Both Johnson and Bush, though, said they thought the city needed seriously to consider helping DAR expand at the airport."

A good indication these two will have no qualms about blowing tax dollars based on nothing ..... it just sounds good. That approach lacks a great deal of substance however nothing new. This has been policy for the better part of the last 25 years.

Where is the hard evidence this will pay back the community? There is none.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

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