Don’t tell Lawrence developer Tim Stultz that the city’s apartment market is overbuilt.
His 224 one-bedroom apartments near Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive are all leased, and produce a waiting list of about 40 people each August. That’s why he wants to build another 136 units.
But don’t tell neighbors that live near the Remington Square development that they should have to live with more apartments. If approved, the project would bring the total number of apartments to more than 800 along the stretch of Clinton Parkway between Inverness and Crossgate drives.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will have to tell somebody something they don’t want to hear. Commissioners will consider a rezoning and site plan for Stultz’s Remington Square expansion.
Neighbors are fighting the project, and are urging city commissioners to say enough is enough.
“It is OK to have some of what they have done out here,” said Steven Hertzog, who lives near the site. “But now they are just inundating us with it. Now, it seems like it is being forced down our throats.”
The project is being recommended for approval by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the city’s planning staff, which says the development fits with the long-range plans that have been developed for the area. The city recently approved the Inverness Park District Plan, which removed apartment development as an approved use for sites right at the corners of Crossgate and Inverness, but allows for an increase in apartment density on the remaining land between the two corners.
Neighbors, though, said the additional 136 apartments will create everything from noise to traffic problems. The traffic issues are worrisome to some because of the proximity to Sunflower Elementary school.
“Traffic will create safety issues out here,” said Aaron Clopton, an area resident opposing the project. “This area always will be attached to kid traffic.”
But Stultz said he is proposing steps to minimize the impact on neighbors. Stultz has agreed to make the zoning of the property conditioned upon the fact that the apartments will never be larger than one-bedroom. Normally, multi-family zoning allows for a certain number of units, but each unit can range in size from one to four bedrooms.
“We don’t compete with the student housing complexes that rent by the bedroom,” Stultz said. “The people who come to us are tired of having a roommate.”
Stultz said the conditions he’s willing to place on the zoning will give the neighbors some certainty that the development won’t be turned into a more traditional type of student apartment complex in the future.
Neighbors, though, said they’ve grown weary of seeing past plans for the area fall apart. Many homeowners bought property next to the large tract of vacant ground between Inverness an Crossgate when it was approved to be a retirement complex. But those plans fell apart several years ago, and neighbors are unhappy that previous city commissions have allowed the area to become one of the larger apartment complex districts in the city.
“The city of Lawrence has let this neighborhood down,” Hertzog said. “The developers out here just keep coming back every few months asking for another rezoning. They’re just wearing the neighborhood down.
“They have a right to ask, but the City Commission needs to stand up and say the people who voted us in don’t want this anymore.”
Neighbors have filed a legal protest petition with the City Commission. That means the project will need to win four out of the five votes on the commission in order to move forward. City commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.