Archive for Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Proposal keeps Berry Plastics warehouse project in Douglas County

The rezoning would open up the possibility of construction of a $21 million plastics warehouse northwest of Lawrence.

September 14, 2010


E. 700 and N. 1800

A new plan has emerged to keep a proposed $21 million warehouse project in Douglas County.

A development group led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel is seeking to rezone 60 acres west of the Lecompton turnpike interchange to house a 600,000-square-foot warehouse for Berry Plastics.

“We think this is a home run for the community, if Berry builds this here,” said Paul Werner, a Lawrence architect and a representative for the development group. “The worst thing that could happen is for this warehouse to be built outside of Douglas County.”

The new site — at the intersection of the Farmers’ Turnpike and East 700 Road — is about 1.5 miles west of the Lecompton interchange on the Kansas Turnpike. The interchange is where Berry originally sought to build its warehouse, but an ownership dispute and a pair of lawsuits by neighbors have delayed those plans.

Now, developers are hoping this new site will draw less opposition and can be approved quickly. Berry has been awarded federal stimulus bonds to help finance the warehouse, but the project needs to be progressing by the end of the year for the company to keep those low-interest bonds.

Werner said the development group is seeking I-2 industrial zoning, which is a limited type of industrial zoning that would not allow manufacturing uses at the site. He also said the project is being planned for only one user.

“We’re not talking about doing an industrial park here,” Werner said.

Neighbors around the property were just being informed of the filing late Monday.

The developers are not seeking to annex the property into the Lawrence city limits, which means the warehouse — expected to be the largest building in Douglas County — won’t be on the city’s tax rolls.

But according to the filing, a separate agreement between the city and the development may be sought in order for the city to provide fire protection for the building. The developers also are asking the city to provide more wholesale water to Rural Water District No. 6, if the district deems it necessary to serve the warehouse.

If approved, the warehouse will be the second major development for the area near East 700 Road. Fritzel already has won approval to build a corporate retreat that would include about 40 cabins and a lodge/restaurant facility. That project, Werner said, will continue. The corporate retreat will take about 60 acres of ground, and the warehouse would take another 60 acres. Werner said the projects would be designed to work together well.

Finding a site for Berry — which operates a drink-cup manufacturing facility in Lawrence with 950 employees — has been a major undertaking in the Lawrence development community. At least one other site was under serious consideration.

A 51-acre site just east of the Lecompton interchange — south of North 1800 Road and west of East 1000 Road — was proposed to Berry by a group led by Lawrence businessman Steve Schwada.

Schwada on Monday filed plans with the city for that site to be annexed and rezoned to general industrial property. Schwada said even though the property was no longer being considered by Berry, he wanted to move ahead in order to market the property to other potential industrial users.

Both the Berry site and the Schwada site are expected to go before the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commission in November. The Berry site will need to win final approval from the Douglas County Commission. The Schwada site will need various approvals from both the city and the county.


jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

The warehouse wouldn't be on the Lawrence tax rolls.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

But there is some sort of idea that the city will provide water, and fire protection.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

If the new zoning(s) are approved, how long until the bait and switch?

geekin_topekan 7 years, 9 months ago

Excellent spot for a hotdog cart.

No food establishments for miles and miles. Although many Berry people are Mexican so that means that they bring their own stuff from home.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

How much will this Berry Plastics project cost the taxpayers? This answer is usually missing from the LJW and the developers. How many tax incentives has Berry plastics received?

Have taxpayers got their money back yet?

No more annexation please. Lawrence taxpayers cannot afford more tax dollar responsibility. Lawrence has become a tax dollar money hole with regard to new construction = not getting our money back = an overloaded and inflated market.

Lawrence cannot keep up with its tax dollar demands. Annexation will only encourage an expanded bedroom community = tax dollar money hole.

somebodynew 7 years, 9 months ago

merrill - read the story. They don't WANT it annexed. They just want all the services (i.e. water and fire), WITHOUT it being on the City tax rolls. Sounds like a sweet deal to me. (But then it is Fritzell, isn't it.??)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm sure that they'll be willing to "compromise" and agree to annexation-- as long as the city covers all of the costs of providing necessary infrastructure.

conservative 7 years, 9 months ago

Bozo when berry first asked for some tax abatements they listed emplyees as 450. The article says they now have 950. I'd say the abatements were well worth it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

Well, no one here has been talking about abatements here, and I don't see anyone requesting one right now, either. Still, determining the success of an abatement would require more than looking at raw employment numbers. And worth it to whom, and whose expense?

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 9 months ago

How's the city going to provide fire protection that far out without building another fire station?

RWD #6 is prohibited by the state from supplying water to industrial users, so the promise of more water is a non-starter.

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

Where is there a state law prohibiting a RWD from supplying water to an industrial user?

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 9 months ago

It's in the charter of the rural water district. Not only RWD #6, but all Kansas rural water districts.

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

First, there isn't a charter ordinance that establishes rural water districts in Kansas. Each RWD is set up through an articles of incorporation document. Second, no where in the articles of incorporation for RWD #6 does it state that the can not or will not supply water to an industrial user.

The Kansas Rural Water Association is fully in favor of supplying water to any client, residential, commercial or industrial as long as the water is available and it's sold at a reasonable cost.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 9 months ago

Can you provide a link to the articles of incorporation the rural water districts use?

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 9 months ago

The chairman of RWD #6 says the district by-laws don't allow for sales to industrial users. I don't have a copy of the by-laws with me, but I have them at home. I'll check them when I get home and post what I find.

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

A copy of the articles of incorporation are on file at the county courthouse. I would definitely be interested in seeing the by-laws as the Kansas Rural Water Association is not aware of any RWD in Kansas that specifically states an unwillingness to provide water to an industrial client.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

"Bozo when berry first asked for some tax abatements they listed emplyees as 450. The article says they now have 950. I'd say the abatements were well worth it."

How so?

How do their wages look? Below the living wage?

How many Lawrence employees are with Berry?

Is Berry a local business? Where does their money go?

How much have they paid in taxes? How much was abated?

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 9 months ago

How much does your company pay in wages? Is it below the living wage?

How many Lawrence employees do you employ?

Where does your money go?

How much do you pay in taxes? How many deductions do you take?

conservative 7 years, 9 months ago

Merril as always you've missed the point of abatements. They are given on taxable items that otherwise wouldn't have come to the community. No money was given to the corporation. They paid their portion of taxes that weren't abated which is a net plus to the community. They also created new jobs which is a plus to the community. As far as whether the juobs live up to the idea of a living wage in your mind i don't know. But i do know part of the requirements for a tax abatement with the city requires all wages meet a certain minimum, which if memory serves was 30% above minimum wage.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Many companies have been given 100% abatements for periods of up to ten years - that means that they pay none of the abated taxes during that time.

When the city decides whether to give abatements or not, they generally make some sort of cost/benefit analysis, regarding the number and type of jobs, and wages that the company needs to provide.

However, I recall Sue Hack stating that she didn't want to be too persnickety about making sure that the companies did in fact live up to their end of the bargain.

So, that would mean that the cost/benefit analysis no longer applied, and the decision to continue the abatements (at their agreed upon level) was no longer a net benefit to the city.

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

Which Lawrence companies have received an 100% abatement?

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

That's pretty tacky.

What do you pay in property taxes?

thefactsare 7 years, 9 months ago

The amount I pay in taxes would be relevant if I was the one debating the worthiness of the business. I was only trying to show that there is a large difference between the taxes paid by Berry Plastics and those paid by a local resident. Part of the answer directly answered merrill's question of "How much have the paid in taxes?" and "How much was abated?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

You could have made the same point by posting your property taxes. (unless you get abatements as well.)

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 9 months ago

Why does merrill hate the working class?

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