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Archive for Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turf battle

The city needs to get control of artificial turf installations on both commercial and residential property.

February 7, 2012

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City officials need to regain control of their turf.

We’re talking about artificial turf and its usage at both commercial and residential locations.

Tonight, Lawrence city commissioners will be discussing artificial turf that has been installed by local developer Thomas Fritzel at a new apartment complex and at a residential property he owns in Old West Lawrence. Although Fritzel and his attorney maintain that the turf is friendly to the environment and that people might learn to like it if they gave it a chance, there are questions that must be answered before the city allows expanded use of the material.

The artificial turf issue came to the city’s attention after Fritzel installed the fake grass around an apartment complex at Sixth Street and Frontier Road. Although crews were informed by city inspectors while the work was under way that the turf didn’t conform to city code, the developers chose to continue the installation and ask later to have the rules changed to accommodate the turf. City planning staff members apparently weren’t impressed by this approach of asking forgiveness instead of permission and are recommending that the developer be required to tear out thousands of square feet of the artificial turf.

The developers say the city should allow the apartment turf to remain as a test case for the material. Planners contend that more limited use of the turf would be a more prudent way to test the turf’s viability as a landscape material. They are concerned not only about long-term maintenance and appearance of the turf but also with studies that indicate that some artificial turf will have a long-term detrimental impact on the soil it covers.

Of even greater concern, however, is the fact that the city has no regulations concerning the installation of artificial turf in residential neighborhoods. Local residents are probably much less concerned about the use of artificial turf around an apartment complex or office building than they are about any large installation of fake grass by their next-door neighbors. The city planning director said “time will tell whether we need to address” residential uses, but the time to address the issue is now, before any widespread use of artificial turf occurs in residential neighborhoods.

As city officials have pointed out, there are many xeriscaping and native plant options that reduce water usage while maintaining an attractive landscape. Limited use of artificial turf may be an acceptable option for both commercial and residential property, but the city needs to set — and enforce — reasonable regulations that address both the aesthetic and environmental issues connected with the material.

Comments

Paul R Getto 2 years, 10 months ago

Who cares? Let them install the stuff; most of what's been built in the past 50 years is bland, baby poop brown and uninteresting. A little astroturf won't make it worse. Add a few pink flamingos too. I suspect some folks have to put a special flower pot at the end of their driveway when coming home drunk so they won't mistake their house for one of dozens in the area that all look the same. == "Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same. There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one, And they're all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same." "Words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1962 Schroder Music Company..."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

I thought that the use of this song as the theme song for the "Weeds" teevee series in its first year or so was brilliant. A different cover from a different group every week.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"The artificial turf issue came to the city’s attention after Fritzel installed the fake grass around an apartment complex at Sixth Street and Frontier Road. Although crews were informed by city inspectors while the work was under way that the turf didn’t conform to city code, the developers chose to continue the installation and ask later to have the rules changed to accommodate the turf. "

This is as good a reason to deny the change as any. Developers need to get the message that they don't have impunity when it comes to zoning regulations.

Richard Payton 2 years, 10 months ago

What would silicon valley do? Ron Paul wants real grass I think?

nativeson 2 years, 10 months ago

The process is wrong, but the issue should be considered. I agree that it is unfortunate that the developer would move forward knowing the installation does not conform with code. But, I think artificial turf makes sense in limited cases. The Oread had such a small strip bordered by impervious surface on both sides. There was no way the natural grass would have been able to sustain itself with so much foot traffic. However, over a larger area I would be concerned about runoff.

formerfarmer 2 years, 10 months ago

Let's see, tear out the artificial grass and plant real grass. Then we mow it once a week; putting pollutants in the air from mower. Then we water it; using an already taxed water supply system. Then we fertilize; using chemical fertilizers, because to is fast and easy to apply. Then we spray for weeds; because it is not cost effective to use manual labor to hand pick weeds.

I have read numerous articles of people complaining of all the above, wanting to get away from chemical fertilizers and sprays. Someone takes the initiative to cut back on the use of all these previously reported bad chemicals, and you would think artificial turf was the most dangerous thing on the planet.

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 10 months ago

You know, this may sound silly to a lot of you, but children and adults need grass and other native landscaping. All you talk about is money, economics. But somehow the feel of real grass and native landscaping surrounding a building is important, whether you enter or leave a building, walk down the street, or have a barbeque. And it's certainly important for kids to play soccer on, or just to hang out outside.

The developers went ahead with their plans anyway - fine, take it all out! Don't give in to these people, who, despite regulations, do what they want..

And defenestrator has some great ideas! I don't know what his job is, but he very strongly needs to be part of the Planning Department!

vegieman 2 years, 10 months ago

Consider all the ground up rubber tire chips the city is putting in the parks. Do these pass code? Can a developer install in their lawns the same landscape material? How about an everyday homeowner?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 10 months ago

The nonsense seems on its' way to approval.

Site plan violations are not taken seriously by city hall. It happens frequently as 12th Street Recycling is another example that is being ignored and allowed to carry on.

As it seems site plan violations get approved instead of being denied and compliance forced.

netnetnet 2 years, 10 months ago

The issue is compliance. These commissioners are bending over and missing the future impact of setting a precidence. Why don't they just let Jane Eldridge run the meeting - she seems to be directing it anyway.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

The possessive form of "it" is "its". The contraction of "it is" is "it's' " "its'" is not acceptable English usage. So says the former journalism teacher. Do I have to say this many, many, many, many, many, many times? (from a source)

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