Advertisement

Archive for Friday, September 9, 2011

Acres of trees removed in rural Douglas County; questions raised over whether potential for new regulations played a role

September 9, 2011

Advertisement

A once heavily wooded 160-acre site at E 850 and N 1850 roads is largely barren after bulldozers cleared many of the trees from the property. The site is owned by Lawrence builder Mike Stultz, but information on what the property may be used for hasn't been made available.

A once heavily wooded 160-acre site at E 850 and N 1850 roads is largely barren after bulldozers cleared many of the trees from the property. The site is owned by Lawrence builder Mike Stultz, but information on what the property may be used for hasn't been made available.

Recently-felled timber smolders in a pile at a 160 acre site E 850 and N 1850 roads in northwest Douglas County. The once heavily wooded site was cleared by bulldozers.

Recently-felled timber smolders in a pile at a 160 acre site E 850 and N 1850 roads in northwest Douglas County. The once heavily wooded site was cleared by bulldozers.

Bulldozers and bonfires have been busy in a pair of rural Douglas County woodlands owned by a Lawrence developer.

The Journal-World received multiple inquires about bulldozers that have been clearing acres of trees on 75 acres just north of the ranger station at Clinton Lake State Park and on 160 acres about one-half mile north of the Lecompton interchange on the Kansas Turnpike.

Lawrence developer Mike Stultz owns both pieces of property, according to county records, but multiple attempts to reach Stultz for comment were unsuccessful.

Lawrence-Douglas County planners said there have not been any development plans filed for either piece of property. But the clear-cutting comes at a time when new regulations limiting large scale-tree cutting are on the horizon.

City commissioners and county commissioners both narrowly passed a new environmental chapter that was added to the city’s planning documents. That chapter has directed planning staff members to create new regulations that would “preserve and sustain woodlands within Douglas County.”

“If they are clear-cutting and diluting the land to avoid whatever changes might come, that is unfortunate,” said Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, who wasn’t aware of the cutting operations. “I don’t think we’re going to set unreasonable expectations. We’re not about stopping growth and development.”

Currently, the county does not have any prohibitions on large-scale tree removal on agricultural land, especially if no development plans have been filed, said Sheila Stogsdill, assistant director of planning.

The city and county have not set a timeline for creating the new regulations called for in the environmental chapter. The situation has created uncertainty about what type of regulations will be governing rural development in the future.

“I think in the rural area there is quite a concern among landowners,” said County Commissioner Jim Flory, who opposed passage of the environmental chapter because he said it hadn’t been adequately discussed with rural residents. “Their concerns are what many people’s concerns are — more government, more government. There is an uncertainty that all of a sudden the government is going to be dictating every move they make on their properties.”

In addition to calling for more regulations related to woodland protection, the environmental chapter also calls for codes that would limit the type of development could occur near streams, local protections for wetlands, ordinances to protect undeveloped pieces of plant and wildlife habitat and others.

At both of the sites, most of the tree removal is complete. The northwest Douglas County site is at the intersection of East 850 and North 1850 roads. The site near the state park is just north of East 800 Road and North 1415 Road. Both sites have large amounts of bare ground that once was heavily covered by trees.

Jerry Schecher, park manager at Clinton Lake State Park, said he was concerned about erosion, drainage issues, and the impact the cutting has had on wildlife habitat next to the park.

“As a steward of the environment, I am concerned about the practice of clear-cutting and burning old standing timber,” Schecher said.

Comments

drake 2 years, 7 months ago

That's the way I remember the property too. There were very few mature trees and most of it was plum thickets and cedar trees. Heavily wooded my a**.

0

KDS0408 2 years, 7 months ago

Not that it's anyone's business, but he doesn't plan to develop the land. I.E.: why there aren't any develpment plans filed with the county. Much of the stuff he removed was underbrush and thatch. In the picture you can see he left some mature trees here and there. Way to jump to conclusions LJW! Typical Chad Lawhorn. If I were him and read all these comments, I'd pour a concrete slab and park my big ole Cadillac on it! Jealous much?

BTW...YES, it was listed for sale when he bought it, so anyone could have bought it.

0

LivedinLawrence4Life 2 years, 7 months ago

Can someone clarify what process Stultz would have had to go through to cut these trees down after the new environmental regulations take effect?

Would he have to get approval as to which kind or type of trees to cut or how many?

Who makes that decision?

How long will the tree cutting approval process take?

Are we going to have a special committee to review tree cutting plans? If so, who pays that committee and how much do they get paid?

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

This builder must enjoy soil erosion. Or maybe he is going for a large tax dollar refund after calling this bit of property "agriculture".

0

RETICENT_IRREVERENT 2 years, 7 months ago

So that an ecologicalarchitect can do the study for the county. - Devo

No, ecologicalarchitect will just say he represents a neighborhood association and complain about drainage, lighting, run for city commission and lose, and get banned from participating in discussions on the local online newspaper..

0

funkdog1 2 years, 7 months ago

So all of you "personal freedom" hollerers are seriously advocating that landowners should be able to do ANYTHING with their personal property, even if it affects hundreds or thousands of other people? Dump toxic waste? Clear cut and foul the watershed? Let livestock waste or farm chemicals wash into creeks and rivers?

0

Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

Eco's been a busy little bee on this thread. How long will he stay this time, Jonathan?

0

lunacydetector 2 years, 7 months ago

if you have a tree to chop, start chopping.....or in the future you'll have to go in front of an enviromentalist group and make a case to cut down your own damn tree.

kudos to stultz for taking the initiative. i know of others who are doing the same, but on a smaller scale. i applaud them.

0

ecologicalarchitect 2 years, 7 months ago

We need to require permits for cutting of any trees over 10inches in diameter, and require permits for any work near streams or streambed riparian zones.

0

Crazy_Larry 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't see any sedimentation fence up around this job site....old dude should have a pollution permit from the state requiring control stormwater/sediment runoff. http://www.kdheks.gov/stormwater/index.html#construct

0

secrettoalonglife 2 years, 7 months ago

Maybe he will set up a CFA and a corn growing operation. that would be a real treat when you drive into town.

0

ksrush 2 years, 7 months ago

I heard it was a landing pad for space aliens

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

papillon (anonymous) says… "And what is going to end up growing in that space (weeds, etc) now that it's prime weed land?"

I hear he is going to plant corn and turn it into ethanol for clean energy and that he has already applied for the government subsidies. Happy now?

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

scott3460 (anonymous) replies… "Got it, you of the same ilk as the idiot in this story."

What ilk is that, those who own property and feel they they know what is best for it?

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) replies… "Sorry, they hired the tree cutters, not the county commission."

Sorry, without the regulators no tree cutters would have been hired. The regulators caused the death of all those innocent trees!

0

papillon 2 years, 7 months ago

I wonder what the environmental impact of this will be on the surrounding area? Who's land will it affect? What run-off issues has he caused? And what is going to end up growing in that space (weeds, etc) now that it's prime weed land?

I'd like to see the County demand an environmental impact study on the land surrounding the clearing and the County Park land.

No one does anything with land without it affecting someone else. And just because you own it doesn't mean your actions won't have consequences for people and land around you. He's an a**hat.

0

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 7 months ago

Why don't a bunch of people go out there and take pictures, pictures, and pictures. Then submit them to the Journal World and see if the Journal-World will publish them as a gallery to what has been done to the land. I'm not in Lawrence right now or I would have done it. Take the pictures! See if the Journal World will put them into a gallery so that everyone can see!

0

Boston_Corbett 2 years, 7 months ago

So many trees, and so little pee.... It's a shame, I tell you. Woof, woof.

0

gregsharp 2 years, 7 months ago

They were walnut trees and they were sold.

0

Gandalf 2 years, 7 months ago

It is idiots like this character that is the prime reason that regulations come into existence. I'm all for individual rights but a qualifier is the impact on neighbors and the surrounding area.

Land ownership is largely a myth, The land has been here for billion's of years and it will be here for billions more. All we do is temporarily have exclusive use and as stewards of the land we have a responsibility both to the land itself and the people around it. That is a price we pay for living in a civilized society.

I don't know what the current zoning is or if is zoned. But when/if it comes time to zone, it should be zoned only a park or limited agricultural.

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

For future reference, when the Commission begins to talk seriously of property owners in the City having to get a permit to remove trees from residential property, at least 5 tress on my lot will be removed within the week.

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) replies… "Regulations don't cut down trees. People do."

People responding to increased regulation. Without the threat of this and future regulation, those trees would still be standing.

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

scaramouchepart2 (anonymous) says… "To clear cut in this manner shows that Mr. Stultz's greed since the environmental chapter does not tell a landowner that he cannot develop only proves his stupidity. "

Maybe the "Douglas County and City of Lawrence Safe Tree Act of 2011" doesn't, or maybe it does depending on how those regulations are interpreted by future commissions and future regulators decide they mean, but what about the "Douglas County and City of Lawrence Safe Tree Act of 2012. 2013, 2014, 2015?"

scaramouchepart2 (anonymous) says… "If developers had taken care of the land and their communities there would be no need to set so many regulations."

If it wasn't for this regulation, these trees would still be on this land unless and until there more concrete plans for this ground. In the face of increased regulations and uncertainty it is a rational response to remove oneself and ones property from the whims of others who have nothing to lose by their actions.

0

swan_diver 2 years, 7 months ago

I get this feeling that Mike Stultz will soon pay a personal price for his actions in degrading our environment, as will we all, in a world wantonly defined and controlled by thieves, rapists and murderers.

0

moot 2 years, 7 months ago

you have tree blood on your hands mister.

0

tbaker 2 years, 7 months ago

"....that still doesn't pardon irresponsible removal of covering vegetation."

"...has a history of this kind of action performed by arrogant landowners to the detriment of the public."

"To clear cut in this manner shows that Mr. Stultz's greed..."

Tell ya what, I like Blue Grass in it's natural state. How about I have the government come fine you for mowing your yard? Have some of you people ever heard of private property rights? My goodness. Where do people get the idea they have the right to tell their neighbors what to do with their own property? What is the source of this arrogance? Private property rights are the cornerstone of liberty. I love trees as much as the next person and hate to see them go, but I love this person's right to cut them down more.

0

TheBellTolls 2 years, 7 months ago

Unintended consequence of busy bodies in government. You make trees a liability you wont have trees. You make employees a liability you wont have jobs. This is what regulations do. At least regulators have job security.

0

kansasredlegs 2 years, 7 months ago

Well at least he didn't have to coax a tree hugging hippie out of a sacred earth healing tree like Compton did before he brought in the bulldozer. btw: Thellman & Gaughan can use that BS tax money it stole from the taxpayers for "farm land green ways". Missed opprtumity for them 2 tax & spenders.

0

Sigmund 2 years, 7 months ago

It is apparent that this clear cutting would not have occurred without County and City leaders desire to protect trees by further limiting private property rights. Although I am certain that they think they know best how everyone should use their property, it is good to see that The Law of Unintended Consequences is still alive and well.

0

Sparko 2 years, 7 months ago

I am sorely tired of right wing apologists. Always the victims. God, can't have the government protect the environment and preserve the precious resources of Kansas or anything. That would be wrong.

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 7 months ago

His nightmares occurred on South Haskell Avenue many years ago!

0

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 7 months ago

To clear cut in this manner shows that Mr. Stultz's greed since the environmental chapter does not tell a landowner that he cannot develop only proves his stupidity. If developers had taken care of the land and their communities there would be no need to set so many regulations. No one has the right to do whatever they want with their property. No auto centers in single family zoned area, for example.

Maybe Mr.Stultz clear cut for a couple of big box stores or more apartments or he has nightmares about rabbits.

0

Starlight 2 years, 7 months ago

This kind of clear cutting has been going on for years. It's more profitable to graze cattle on grass than have the trees sitting there.

0

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 7 months ago

Would there be such outcry from a few, what maybe 10, if the owner of the land was going to plant veggies to sell at the Farmer's Market, well whatever this European village calls their parking lot produce stand?

The city has plenty of trees in the right of ways throughout neighborhoods that coud be removed.

Who would really care about the tree removal? Can't the Journal World writer find some "neighors" adjacent (like a section away or a 1/4 section away ) who are upset?

Sounds more like someone is jealous that they weren't able to cough up the money to buy the land.

Whatever happened to Stump Betty?

0

phoggyjay 2 years, 7 months ago

Feck the trees... we don't need to breathe.

0

matahari 2 years, 7 months ago

Many of the trees in this area are/were not indigenous. A lot that were planted for wind breaks for agricultural advantages didn't just spring up. When "white man" first arrived to this area the number of trees was far fewer. True?

0

evilpenguin 2 years, 7 months ago

Wow, way to show everyone how much of a moron you are.

0

buffalobill 2 years, 7 months ago

Heath Seitz is also a burden to us. He dumped tons of stuff into creeks running into Clinton Lake. This guy owns tons of property and I imagine he has money for a dumpster but instead KDHE had to supervise a cleanup of his new properties.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Specific projects should be accompanied with independent Retail Impact Studies, Economic Impact studies,Traffic Impact Studies etc etc. Why? To determine whether or not the market can generate maximum new sales,maximize employment and protect taxpayers from unexpected tax increases.

Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed for it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.

New retail is suppose to create NEW ADDITIONAL revenue and NEW ADDITIONAL employment for a community NOT merely spread current retail dollars to the point where nothing NEW or ADDITIONAL is realized.

Certainly it is not to replace existing retail for nothing is gained. Otherwise taxpayers realize TAX INCREASES to cover the cost of additional demand on community services.

Taxpayers get stuck with paying for maintenance of all new infrastructure which is why new housing does not cover the cost of community services. Each new home adds to the cost of community services = more taxes for homeowners. Over built residential drives down the value of homes which is happening as we speak which could increase taxes.

Over built retail does not generate revenue enough to cover the cost of community services nor does it generate the level of sales tax projected/necessary. The only industry that makes money is the real estate industry.

Over built retail means spaces sit empty not generating revenue or jobs and comes back on the taxpayer. Every community needs each retail space to generate maximum revenue.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Laissez Faire development is a high tax dollar venture for taxpayers. Once developers begin they expect taxpayers to help them develop large profits.

How?

Road Care Traffic Control Fire Protection All types of infrastructure maintenance Schools Law Enforcement Snow Plows Resurfacing Ambulance Tax abatements Tax Rebates Special sales taxes Tax Increment Financing and the list goes on

All of the above are tax dollar expenses laid on the majority of taxpayers.

Mr Flory is not about protecting tax dollars let's not kid ourselves. Neither are most city commissioners.

Growth plans were designed for a reason. To grow at a slow fiscally responsible rate NOT at a fast pace wreckanomic builders rate.

Mr Flory is wrong. Government should be protecting the majority of taxpayers from the real estate tax dollar moochers. Mr Flory is all about big government working for big developer earmarks aka pork barrel money.

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 7 months ago

Another 2 examples of clandestine demolition conducted by Midnight Bulldozer Rip and Shred. Lawrence/Douglas County has a history of this kind of action performed by arrogant landowners to the detriment of the public, i.e.:

Overnight destruction of Elkin Prairie Douglas County Bank demolition of many houses between 8th&9th Tenn. & Kentucky K.U. bullying in the Oread Neighborhood. Frat. Fire on Tennessee Street

0

pizzapete 2 years, 7 months ago

I was expecting a different name when I read the words local developer linked iwith bulldozers and bonfires.

0

sunny 2 years, 7 months ago

That is exactly what Lawrence needs is 'more regulations'! haha

0

tomatogrower 2 years, 7 months ago

Not much of a business man, is he. If you were going to put a housing development in there, then leaving some of the older trees would sell the houses faster. People like woodsy settings. So he just screwed up his land to show up the environmentalists?

And as for those who think his actions are ok, because it's his land - do you agree that property owners next to him can sue him for the run off that comes from the erosion? If he can keep erosion from entering a stream that travels to the next property, then fine. But if it pollutes the water in adjacent properties, he is responsible, and I hope they sue him into poverty. Got your lawyers ready, Stultz?

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 7 months ago

crackers My use of "guy"was substitute for "owner". I'm sure neighbors are thrilled, but I doubt that he cares. A 65 year old individual who has had a successful career in the building trades; why would he want/need to pull a couple of fast ones. No concern about protecting the environment or his legacy.

0

kernal 2 years, 7 months ago

Just like a petulant child.

0

somebodynew 2 years, 7 months ago

If you look at the pictures (I think in this article, but maybe the other one) or drive past the locations, you will see this is not your ordinary clearing of trees. This is a complete curb to curb bulldozing of anything that might accidently look green.

I am not a tree hugger and if I have a purpose, I will take out a few trees. But to just utterly destroy everything standing for no reason other than 'because I can' is just wrong. I have heard stories about this guy in the past and I guess he hasn't changed a bit.

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 7 months ago

Guy has been shaky since his high school days! Alternate of generations, his father was such a nice guy.

0

LivedinLawrence4Life 2 years, 7 months ago

If someone wants to save trees on land owned by someone else, they should raise the money to buy the land. The same goes for land with topsoil too good to allow development. If homes and businesses can't be built among trees or good topsoil or near any wetlands then that leaves us rocky barren high ground to build homes?

0

oletimer 2 years, 7 months ago

I get so tired about people worrying about everything and everyone but themselves. It is his land, and the last time I checked, you can do what you want with it. Lawhorn and the rest of you busy bodies need to get a real life and stay out of other folk's business.

0

gl0ck0wn3r 2 years, 7 months ago

“I don’t think we’re going to set unreasonable expectations. We’re not about stopping growth and development.”

Riiiiiiiight.

0

OonlyBonly 2 years, 7 months ago

well, it's legal but I sure hope it comes back to bite him. Hard!

0

GovJunkie 2 years, 7 months ago

Developers exercising their rights before others try to take them away without just compensation. Ordinances like those referenced in the article and related efforts (e.g., Lawrence Traffic Dead-end) probably explain why the LJW doesn't have a "Busness" section on their website - not enough business to write about. Gj

0

cheeseburger 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm not a big Stultz fan, but this one is on Thellman and Gaughan, and their incessant desire for onerous environmental regulations.

0

macon47 2 years, 7 months ago

i am not a tree hugger, but i hate to see the trees destroyed however, if i was a developer, and the govt was threatening more rules that would impact my business, i guess i would react alot of us are tired of the city , county , state and federal govts protecting us, and telling us what we need to do, and then threaten us if we do not comply with what they thnk is best .

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.