Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2012

Senior housing project draws objections from neighborhood

August 9, 2012


A lot of neighbors weren’t happy with an item on the Douglas County Commission’s agenda Wednesday night. But, with a little explaining, the commissioners moved the project forward anyway.

Homeowner Jean Affalter led the opposition of a project to build rental homes for seniors near the United Way building at 25th Street and Ridge Court. She and five others spoke out, and she gave the three commissioners a petition with 57 signatures from homeowners around the area, especially in the 2500 block of Cedarwood Drive, where the housing block might be built, and where neighbors said existing water main issues would reach crisis levels if more occupants moved in.

The commission didn’t have the option to approve or reject the project, which has been in the works for several months, on Wednesday.

Instead, the governing body voted on its plan to give the land to Tenants to Homeowners with the intention that TTH would move forward in getting city approval of a rental 55-and-up community development. The county owns the land and the United Way building, which once was a retirement home, though the land around it is used by many neighbors as a park-like greenspace.

Commissioners voted unanimously to go forward in giving the roughly two-acre parcel to TTH. It doesn’t have the authority to approve rezoning inside the city limits, but all three commissioners expressed support for the project, aimed at increasing the level of affordable housing for seniors.

Affalter’s petition cites concerns about overpopulation, increase in traffic and strain on utilities in its opposition to the plan. She expressed frustration in not knowing about the project sooner, though Commissioner Jim Flory said that handing over ownership didn’t require notification and that the city would be responsible for infrastructure improvement.

Tenants to Homeowners will now own the property and be responsible with going forward — or not — in the process to inform surrounding homeowners and get city approval for its planned development.

Other business from Wednesday’s meeting:

• Public comment on the proposed 2013 budget was less vigorous than that of the Tenants to Homeowners plan.

Steve Nowak, executive director of the Douglas County Historical Society, spoke to thank the commissioners for financial support of tourism and historical activities.

Each commissioner then gave comments on his or her take on the budget, with Flory saying he opposed the cuts to the capital improvement project, chairman Mike Gaughan emphasizing the compromise of it and Nancy Thellman thanking the commission for its support of social service agencies.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he was comfortable with the budget, though “the difficulty comes in two to three years” with what he sees as state budget cuts and reduction in property values. The commission unanimously voted to approve the budget, making it official law.

• County commissioners unanimously voted to further extend the burn ban, which went into effect July 25 and will continue again at least until the commission’s next meeting, which will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the second floor of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.


Janis Pool 5 years, 9 months ago

TTH purpose is not rental but ownership, so I do not understand the motive here. And while Lawrence ay be a "great place to retire" this particular greenspace may be better utilized as a community garden.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

TTH will take care of the property. It will not become a typical apartment dwelling that is neglected and typical throughout this neighborhood.

Believe it there are plenty of neglected rental units in this neighborhood operated by the Lawrence Slumlord Association. The neighborhood concern is warranted.

Where is city hall when the neighborhood needs them? When is city hall going to step in and demand action from slum lords as they are doing on the old home that had the Packards in the back yard?

Typically Tenants to Homeowners constructs well built energy efficient residential units. I would expect no less from this organization.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 9 months ago

As someone who owns a newly renovated, well taken care of property on 25th & Ridge I'd like to remind many, particularly Merrill, that not all rental properties are 'slums'. Some of us actually take pride in running a small business that betters the community.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

This is a solid example of special interest control over what is done in Lawrence. Many of the comments regarding the poor condition of apratments are spot on. Why are they in poor condition? Because multi-unit housing was purposely exempt from the rental housing regulations in Lawrence.( Via Compton, Stultz, Fritzel,etc.) Throw a dart at the map in 10 years and we will find that there will be a run down apartment complex within a mile radius. If the county wants to support a senior housing project. How about buying a entire block of the empty rental houses that the tenants have moved out of and into the apt units. Our sweet community is turning sour right before our eyes..

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 9 months ago

As per the planning dept, the city doesn't track how many apartments are within the city limits and officially doesn't have an opinion as to whether the market for apartments is over-built. Instead, the city relies on developers and lenders to determine whether apartments should be built.

The city tracks businesses as it wants to protect downtown, but it doesn't seem interested in protecting homeowners from large scale apartment development in their neighborhoods. Many homeowners associate lower property values and an increase in crime when large apartment complexes are built in their neighborhoods. I'm not certain whether the crime issue is real or imagined, but the worries about lower property re-sale value seem to be based in fact.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't do any good to go before the commission . They have already made up their minds before you even get there.

When I bought my property, there was a small park with a walking path. The city had the park torn out and had a retirement village built. It is practically in my backyard.

I had tried to reason with them that the drainage problem would become worse. They assured me it wouldn't but it did.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 9 months ago

wow, great thinking! put lots of potential crime victims in easy reach of the high concentration of criminals. they don't have to drive to thug.

is this lawrence's newest form of energy conservation, greenie wheenie living?

will we win some kinda new award for this?

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