County OKs parcel annexation by city

Douglas County commissioners Wednesday reached a 2-1 decision to move forward with a plan to annex about 67 acres of property at the northwestern edge of Lawrence into the city.

The issue, which garnered a good deal of public opinion one week ago, was whether the annexation and probable rezoning of the land for industrial use would hinder the proper growth and development of the area. Commissioners Mike Gaughan and Jim Flory both voted in favor of the plan while Commissioner Nancy Thellman was opposed.

“I’m not convinced this property needs to be annexed into the city to be marketable,” Thellman said, visibly disappointed by the decision. “I think these neighbors have reason to be concerned.”

Thellman voiced her own concerns that the move to annex the property may be premature, as an interim plan for land use from the city contains no promises of city services.

The decision follows in the footsteps of others from the past several years, the most recent of which passed 2-1 last year, with Thellman alone in opposition. That decision concerned more than 50 acres directly east of the current property being considered.

Concerns regarding drainage issues and other developmental hurdles were addressed by the commissioners in favor, who said those items were related to pre-development and not pre-annexation. The land, which sits between the Kansas Turnpike and the Farmers’ Turnpike just east of the Kansas Turnpike’s Lecompton interchange, has already been identified for industrial uses in a sector plan in Horizon 2020.

The commission approved drafting a resolution consistent with the commissioners’ majority decision.