Next Wednesday, Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to reach a decision on approving or rejecting the annexation of a 51-acre site west of Lawrence, approximately one mile east of the Kansas Turnpike’s Lecompton interchange.
City commissioners have approved the proposed annexation, as has the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, both by unanimous votes.
The site meets the requirements of Horizon 2020 and is in an ideal location for businesses or industries that want relatively easy access to Interstate 70. One of the major weaknesses in Lawrence attracting new industry is the lack of large sites along I-70.
The eventual development of the former Farmland property on Kansas Highway 10 will provide large, attractive sites for a variety of developments, but, at this time, the community has little to offer prospective businesses looking for property close to I-70.
It is good that county commissioners are sensitive to concerns of area property owners, but in this case, the 51 acres meets the necessary land-use and zoning requirements.
Apparently, the only question facing county commissioners is whether annexation of this property hurts the growth and health of Douglas County. How could this “hurt” the county when annexation likely would mean more job opportunities, more tax revenue and other related positive spin-offs. Annexation would be a plus, or an improvement, for the county rather than doing any harm.
Lawrence and Douglas County unfortunately have developed the reputation of being an extremely difficult and contentious, almost negative, area for industry and business to locate and expand. This is a highly harmful image, particularly in today’s increasingly competitive environment. In recent years, the Lawrence-Douglas County approach or motto seems to be “never the right project at the right place at the right time.” Consider the years it took to get a development plan in place to start transforming the former Farmland Industries site into an attractive industrial park.
County commissioners should give a quick and enthusiastic thumbs-up to the 51-acre annexation request that will come before them next Wednesday.