Archive for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rural retreat proposal up for approval at Douglas County Commission

August 3, 2011


Plans for a 209-acre retreat for hunters, birdwatchers and corporate clients south of Lawrence are drawing fire from neighbors concerned about losing the area’s rural nature.

Tonight, Douglas County commissioners will consider a request to rezone the area known as Sadies Lake for rural tourism uses, a list that could include hunting, lodging, conferences and a variety of agricultural uses.

Mike Treanor, a member of the property’s ownership group that includes Lawrence businessman Doug Compton, said that any development would provide a “very light touch:” walking, hiking and horse trails, some cabins and perhaps a conference center for corporate retreats.

“We are all about preserving the natural, rural character that’s out there, and that we do it in a considerate and intelligent, planned way,” said Treanor, a Lawrence architect. “Doing any development out there would be in character with the rural nature of the area.”

But Newton McCluggage, who lives on 140 acres to the south of the property, isn’t buying it.

He’s among several property owners to sign a petition protesting the rezoning, a document that would require all three commissioners to approve the measure for it to be enacted.

McCluggage already hears the gunfire from folks using the property for hunting and isn’t excited about the prospect of more people visiting the land whose owners have plans for as 13 cabins, a 12,000-square-foot conference center and perhaps projects allowed within the new zoning category.

“‘Rural tourism’ is just a euphemism for just a plain old business,” said McCluggage, a retired physician who moved from the Kansas City area 17 years ago. “He can build anything: a railroad station, a hotel, motel, any kind of things. A vineyard … for yuppie environmentalists.

“It changes the rural character of the area, and based on some of his previous developments, there’s no telling what he’ll build out there. By rezoning it, he can do pretty much anything he wants out there.”

Not exactly, said Mike Gaughan, a county commissioner. Under rural tourism zoning — a new zoning category drafted by planners and approved by Gaughan and his fellow commissioners, Jim Flory and Nancy Thellman — any development would need to be approved by commissioners on a site plan.

And such a site plan would need to meet the zoning’s standard as being rural in character.

“They’d have to maintain that rural character,” Gaughan said. “As long as they’d be interested in creating an environment where people could enjoy the environment, and participate in activities, that would normally be available in the rural environment, then that would meet the general scope of what we’re looking for.”

The property is at 778 E. 1300 Road, about 4.5 miles south of Lawrence and less than a quarter-mile east of the new alignment for U.S. Highway 59. The property is near Pleasant Grove, about two miles south of Wells Overlook.

The issue is scheduled for the evening portion of the commission’s regular weekly meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. at the county courthouse, 1100 Mass.


Scott Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

Be very afraid people. First it's a tiny fraction of our abundant land, and it will be within shouting distance of a 4 lane highway. Oh my, it may even dump hundreds of thousands of much needed tax revenue in our laps.

It may even give some folks the chance to experience nature.

Be very afraid people, next they will push cabins and hotels on our Corp Of Engineer ponds. Just like Lake of the Ozarks, and Grand Lake in Oklahoma where thousands including Kansas people enjoy the water.

Get a life and let some development in for a change. Have some fun.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 5 months ago

"...a 209-acre retreat for hunters, birdwatchers and corporate clients..." proposed for "...rural tourism uses, a list that could include hunting, lodging, conferences and a variety of agricultural uses" to be enjoyed by "...corporate clients" who'll have access to " many as 13 cabins" plus "a 12,000 s/f conference center".

"Corporate clients" just about says it all.

I'm a hunter, also an occasional birder. But I'm neither wealthy nor an executive or employee of a corporation; I'm just your average guy who drives many miles in search of places to enjoy the outdoors. I prefer the old-fashioned way: hunt on family-owned farms after simply knocking on the owner's door and politely asking permission. And like many thousands of Kansas hunters in my situation, I resent seeing thousands of good hunting spots around the state taken over by wealthy sportsmen who pay God knows how many dollars to lease exclusive hunting rights -- effectively removing any possibility that I, and folks like me, will ever get to set foot on those parcels.

How long before "Hunting by Permission Only" signs vanish altogether, and on rural fence posts the only signs hunters see will read, "Hunting by Wealthy People or Corporate Executives Only".

blindrabbit 6 years, 5 months ago

Whatever happened to the proposed Rural Retreat development proposed by Fritzel and others between Lawrence and Lecompton. Have not heard about it since last year.

Greg Burger 6 years, 5 months ago

Part of it became an industrial park (Berry Plastics)

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, blindrabbit and Lecompton, it has become nothing so far :). It is approved but no dirt moved yet and the retreat part is still on the drawing board, but no action there either.

I saw one of the guys from Berry the other week and he blamed the lawyers getting involved has slowed everything down. OK by me, I am not looking forward to all the semis on that road when it does get done.

Might be good for a follow up from Chad though????

truthiness 6 years, 5 months ago

I appreciate the masquerade of an honest debate regarding the rights of another rich businessman to eliminate more naturally beautiful land. If you think this will generate taxes for Douglas County, think again. That property was purchased for more than 1 million dollars but take a moment and see what they pay in the way of taxes. I'll give you a hint, it isn't the purchase price or value of the property. In fact you can do your homework and find they pay taxes on less than a quarter of the value of that property.

I'd think that a simple vote by the people that all live adjacent or across the road would be the right way to handle a debate like this but that's not the way democracy works here. Sadly I believe that 10,000 peoples voices would be easily drowned out by a couple rich guys. I'd go down and voice my opinion at the meeting tonight but I'm not rich so I'm quite confident my opinion would simply extend an already boring meeting.

Let's consider this another way. Do the owners of this property let others use this land? Answer, no! I know people that live a stones throw from that property and they have been refused permission to simply fish that lake.

I have a dream where I wake up and learn that Lawrence remains a liberal free thinking town without a bunch of fat cats destroying the countryside so more fat cats can have another place to shoot guns and put up more NO TRESPASSING signs.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

truthiness, Maybe this is a simple problem some Lawrencians can't comprehend. Toss away property taxes, forget them. This group will pay some, but this is not the big picture shows.

Did you know there is an active gun club near there anyway? The world hasn't ended and many honest hardworking folks shoot blue rock year round. Boom boom boom!

Do you have a clue what for instance hypothetically Goodyear, or KiA U.S., or Widget Inc. would end up paying for a week of 13 cabins, chow, and any other entertainment for say a week at this retreat?

Your talking some serious dough. Good grief, thousands in new sales tax revenues and hardly a soul would notice the place exists.

This amount will be taxed. In fact taxed heavily. At the least can see 6 figures in new sales taxes to Douglas County.

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

That is IF they leave the "retreat" and spend money in town. If the retreat has everything they need, then some won't leave.

truthiness 6 years, 5 months ago

wissmo, This is not a project that anyone could predict with any accuracy the financial impact to Lawrence. The only thing that can be accurately predicted is the impact to the property and it's neighbors. You could say it won't impact either of us, unless you live out there or stand to gain financially so the decision should be left to the neighbors. So I ask you, do you care what the neighbors think about this? Suppose none of them want it? Would you care? Honestly, would you?

Alceste 6 years, 5 months ago

I recall reading something about "rural tourism" from that guy who lives in Cedar Crest in Topeka? As I recollect he was warbling on about "rural tourism" being an aspect of the salvation of Kansas economically.

Good for you, Newton McCluggage. Good for you that you know bullroar when ya hear it. "Rural tourism" indeed. Ya done hit the nail on the head..."Rural tourism’ is just a euphemism for just a plain old business. He can build anything: a railroad station, a hotel, motel, any kind of things. A vineyard … for yuppie environmentalists. It changes the rural character of the area, and based on some of his previous developments, there’s no telling what he’ll build out there. By rezoning it, he can do pretty much anything he wants out there.”

Yup....pretty much anything.....but then got them fancy elected officials looking out for you. Sometimes the public don't know what's best for them and require the assistance of hack politicians....particularly the kind that just like to play at it; politics that is....."ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS". "Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!"

1petadvocate 6 years, 5 months ago

wissmo, development? How about something that just might create jobs, like, Lowe's, Olive Garden, plastic manufacturing, etc.? How about you sell your property for a "retreat", or better yet, let Compton build a 209 acre "retreat" next to your property. If you are lucky, the corporate businessmen-hunters will only shoot out your windows.. What a laughable proposal! We have no business in Lawrence, nor do we bring any in (largely because Compton is afraid of competition ( like the hot dog vendors next to his restaurants) to create a living for folks, so lets just bring big business in to shoot up our animals and surrounding rural landscape. Add a few boozy drinks to the mix and who knows what large game they bring down. Compton, just buy a bigger house and let them stay with you for the probably couldn't charge them for it, but I'm sure you would come up with a way to make a few pennies off of the invite...

Scott Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

Kimberling City Mo was a hard scrabble dead end sucky last pardon the pun "resort" for habitation in 1950. Made do nothing land around Lawrence look like paradise. Now, try buying a few acres. This area hums with dollars being spent.

Good grief, how do you think a place like this exists? Do you think they put folks in cabins with some Ranch Beans and a 6 pack? You don't think jobs will spring forth. Not all great, but tourist money being spent passes many hands.

Get over the hunting, from what I read they will have plenty of activity for pasty faced 60 year old hippies looking to congregate.

Do they offer Econ at KU?

Alceste 6 years, 5 months ago

Well, KU used to offer this course called "Principles of Personal Finance". As the class moved forward back in '68/'69 as I recall it became obvious there would be no discussions relative to alternative investment schemes (such as some of the alternative commodity brokering that was happening in both Douglas and Jefferson County), so it was deemed "irrelavant" by moi and was dropped. The shame of the "W" on the half completed transcript haunts me to this very day. Thank you for the reminder, wissmo. Not wink

Scott Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

I took Econ something or other my first semester at a school many states away. It was in my first semester with a man who looked like Don Knotts, and had a speech impediment. Should have dropped too.

Those 60-70s profs must have enjoyed making something rather simple hard to understand. I re-read the textbook a few years ago finding the concepts simple.

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