Archive for Sunday, August 26, 2012

City drafting Oread guides

Plan will set out rules for neighborhood development

August 26, 2012


A proposed plan to shore up the ever-changing Oread neighborhood is set to enter a new phase at Lawrence City Hall.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are expected to officially ask the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission to begin weighing in on how the neighborhood near the university should develop in the future.

“We’re looking for guidelines that speak to how development and redevelopment occurs in the future and how to keep the character of the neighborhood people enjoy” said Scott McCullough, planning director for the city.

Since the beginning of the year, the city’s planning staff has been working with an outside consultant to develop a draft set of guidelines for how specific areas of the Oread neighborhood should develop.

City officials don’t yet have the draft guidelines, but the document is expected to be ready for staff review by the end of August. In some cases, the guidelines will cover specific details such as the slope of roofs, the number of windows new structures must have, setback distances from the street and other design issues, McCullough said.

“We think the guidelines will help preserve the character and enhance the character of the neighborhood,” McCullough said.

On Tuesday, city commissioners won’t be asked to make any decisions about specific guidelines. Instead, they’ll formally start a process for the Planning Commission and the Historic Resources Commission to hold public hearings on the new regulations. McCullough said that city commissioners likely won’t be asked to make a final decision on the new regulations until next year. Commissioners, though, already have approved a basic groundwork for the new regulations.

Commissioners in late 2010 approved the Oread Neighborhood Plan, which calls for splitting the neighborhood into five districts. Planners are now ready to create the specific regulations that will guide each district. The districts are:

• A low-density residential district generally north of Memorial Stadium.

• A high-density residential district that runs along portions of Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio and Louisiana streets.

• A medium-density residential district that largely runs along the eastern edge of the Oread neighborhood and includes properties on parts of Vermont, Kentucky, 12th and 13th streets.

• The Hancock Historic District, which includes a small area between Louisiana and Mississippi streets just east of the football stadium.

• The Oread Historic District, which includes properties along Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio streets generally north of 11th Street.

The future guidelines have been the subject of significant interest from residents and developers in the neighborhood as more old homes have been converted into boarding houses and as several new projects, like The Oread hotel and the Varsity House apartment complex, have been built in the neighborhood.

“So far our group has been fine with what has been proposed,” said Rob Farha, president of the Oread Neighborhood Association, which includes several landlords who want to ensure existing multifamily properties aren’t at risk of being downzoned. McCullough said he doesn’t expect any properties to have their existing uses changed as a result of the new regulations but said properties may have to meet certain design guidelines for those uses as the property redevelops in the future.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


somebodynew 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree Wilbur (did I just say that?). Just from what I read here (...slope of roofs, how many windows.....) this all seems waaaaayyyyy over-reaching to me. And I don't own property there. Talk about government being in charge of everything ??? Are they going to say how much toilet paper, and what kind, a person can use ??

I think I see some property 'accidents' in the near future........

MartyT 5 years, 8 months ago

These sorts of regulations have been tested repeatedly in the courts; architectural design guidelines in a municipality's zoning code is perfectly legitimate and unequivocally constitutional. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Real Property law will tell you that owning a piece of property does not give you carte blanche to do whatever you want with it. This is not a case of government overreach.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 8 months ago

Couldn't have said it any better. Glad to see someone else here understands planning and design guidelines :D

joes_donuts 5 years, 8 months ago

This isn't carte blanche, this is someone buying a property under one set of rules, and then having the government change the rules on them without compensation. The city did the same thing to the entire Oread when they changed the zoning of all the properties without notifying any of the property owners.

More government, more government, more government.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Quite right-- the freedom to bulldoze (and burn down?) should be inalienable.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

Welcome to Lawrence where the developers make their own laws or have their friends on the commission change them for THEIR benefit. If that doesn't work, Lawyers can be brought in due to the Deep Pockets of the developers. Laws will never stand in the way of THEIR Progress. Money Rules.

joes_donuts 5 years, 8 months ago

Agree, except most the Oread rental owners are not big developers, they are the small business people who have to follow the rules.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

Thus the Double standard. We as Homeowners/Small business Owners MUST go by the rules. Developers with deep pockets and friends have"options" you and I do not.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

What does the 9th and New Hampshire proposal teach us about out development controls?

Lawrence lacks proper development controls. The absence of proper controls prevents the City from reviewing major projects and allows developers to dictate the pace of growth. This is a mistake.

The problems with the 9th and New Hampshire proposal are a text book example of failed planning.

Quick history:

The City approved zoning on the 900 block of New Hampshire for the Downtown 2000 project. The Downtown 2000 project failed. It was supposed to pay for one-half of the New Hampshire Street parking garage. When the project failed, the taxpayers had to pick up the tab for the garage.

Despite the failure of the project, the zoning lives on at the site. This permits the developer to proceed with a hotel without normal planning review. If the developer wants to build a 3-story hotel and does not want subsidy, it can be built without planning review.

The proposed hotel never went through the Planning Commission and as such, the community at large and the neighborhood in particular was not given the opportunity to weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of this project.

The only reason that the project is going before the City Commission is because it happens to be located adjacent to historic properties making it subject to review by the Historic Resources Commission (HRC), and the project failed to win HRC approval.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Other City Commission Agenda Items and possible tax increases:

Accountable Development When taxpayers' money is used to subsidize private business, companies must be held accountable for creating family-wage jobs and other benefits for the community. We research and promote best practices.

Corporate Subsidy Watch The worst subsidies are often special deals offered to single companies. Good Jobs First keeps an eye on corporations that frequently go to the public trough, and we critique the most egregious giveaways.

Green Jobs Economic development needs to be sustainable as well as accountable. We monitor government efforts to promote the creation of green jobs to make sure that these are also good jobs.

Smart Growth for Working Families Suburban sprawl – and the harm it causes cities and workers – is often brought about by subsidies. Learn how smart-growth alternatives can create better jobs, expand commuter options and make communities more liveable.


In the pages on each state and the District of Columbia reached by clicking on the map below, you will find essential information on subsidy practices and controversies. Each page contains an overview of the state’s track record on the use of job subsidies.

A list of key subsidy programs with descriptions, cost figures and links to sites that disclose the names of companies receiving tax breaks and other forms of financial assistance.

Case studies of large and controversial subsidy deals.(Alphabetical index by company name.) such as a summary of the various ways that Wal-Mart avoids paying its fair share of taxes in the state.

Links to leading subsidy watchdog groups and other information on the loss of tax revenue through corporate giveaways.

We hope this information will serve as ammunition for groups that are trying to make economic development more accountable and to prevent subsidy abuse.


Carol Bowen 5 years, 8 months ago

Planning in a box. It seems that our planning department is not able to plan for infill development without compromising the existing structures and considering the impact on surrounding areas. The department needs to address the capacity of Oread and the surrounding are to absorb a new development.

Wilbur, I don't recall what your position was on the Ninth and New Hampshire, but it looks like your neighborhood has similar concerns.

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