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Archive for Wednesday, February 8, 2012

City allows fake grass at apartments

But commissioners say turf should only be used in ‘limited situations’ in future

Artificial turf is made of a plastic-like material that allows water to drain into the ground. Lawrence city commissioners went against a staff recommendation and agreed on Tuesday to “grandfather in” more than 20,000 square feet of artificial turf that was installed contrary to city code at a west Lawrence apartment complex. On a 4-1 vote, city commissioners said a development group led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel could keep the synthetic turf that was installed at the Tuckaway Apartments at Frontier, which is near Sixth and Frontier.

Artificial turf is made of a plastic-like material that allows water to drain into the ground. Lawrence city commissioners went against a staff recommendation and agreed on Tuesday to “grandfather in” more than 20,000 square feet of artificial turf that was installed contrary to city code at a west Lawrence apartment complex. On a 4-1 vote, city commissioners said a development group led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel could keep the synthetic turf that was installed at the Tuckaway Apartments at Frontier, which is near Sixth and Frontier.

February 8, 2012

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The grass will always be greener on the other side of at least one Lawrence fence.

Lawrence city commissioners went against a staff recommendation and agreed on Tuesday to “grandfather in” more than 20,000 square feet of artificial turf that was installed contrary to city code at a west Lawrence apartment complex.

On a 4-1 vote, city commissioners said a development group led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel could keep the synthetic turf that was installed at the Tuckaway Apartments at Frontier, which is near Sixth and Frontier.

“I dislike the turf but not enough to warrant pulling it all off of this site,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell. “I think it was overused at this site. But to pull it all off, what a waste that would be.”

Commissioners, though, tried to send a message that they didn’t want to see much more of the artificial turf — either in commercial applications or at private residences. Commissioners directed staff members to craft an ordinance that would require any installation of artificial turf to receive city approval, with a notation that it likely would be approved only in “limited situations.”

City commissioners on Tuesday were told the installation of the synthetic turf at Tuckaway at Frontier violated the city’s commercial landscape code. Commissioners also were told the developers were notified by city inspectors the artificial turf was not an approved use, but installation of the material continued at the site with the hope the city would change the rules at a future date to allow it.

Jane Eldredge, a Lawrence attorney for the development group, said her clients believed the synthetic turf was allowed at the time they purchased the material. That was in part because the city had approved the use of the turf at the Oread hotel, a project also built by a group led by Fritzel.

City planners, though, said the Oread turf was approved as a method of “alternative compliance” to the city’s landscape code, and that it should have been clear the approval at the Oread didn’t clear the way for the product at Tuckaway at Frontier.

City commissioners did express some concern about whether the developer had willfully ignored a city ordinance, but ultimately commissioners said they weren’t willing to order the 22,232 square feet of turf to be torn up.

“I’ve heard people say that it is easier in this town to ask for forgiveness instead of permission,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said. “If that is the case, we need to change that mentality. But tearing up all this material seems like a waste of resources and energy. That is not being good environmental stewards.”

Commissioners did hear from one resident of the apartment complex and two neighbors who said the artificial turf had improved the appearance of the property, which previously was the Boardwalk Apartments, the site of a deadly 2005 fire.

Commissioner Bob Schumm cast the lone vote against providing the turf grandfather status. Schumm said he thought the commission’s action likely would be interpreted as setting a precedent for more artificial turf in commercial settings.

Staff members had proposed a lengthy set of regulations spelling out situations where artificial turf could be used in the future. But commissioners did not adopt those regulations. Instead they opted to craft a simple ordinance that said all future artificial turf installations, including at single-family homes, would have to receive special approval from the City Commission.

In other news, commissioners unanimously agreed to draft agreements with organizations that want to use four pieces of city-owned property to serve as community gardens or vegetable farms. The sites are part of the city’s previously approved Common Ground program, which seeks to promote urban agriculture.

Comments

hujiko 2 years, 6 months ago

Fritzel rules the coop like always.

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Clint Church 2 years, 6 months ago

"it likely would be approved only in “limited situations.” " Depending on who you are.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 6 months ago

someday I hope Lawrence overcomes the influence of certain people. If it doesn't, it's problems will continue to multiply.

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Jayson Hawk 2 years, 6 months ago

Kudos to Bob for voting against this. Some developers have always gotten what they have wanted through the years from Billings, Fritzel, to Compton.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 6 months ago

the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep wal mart from building a decent store but let's a po dunk developer run rough shod over the town. Who are our city leaders?

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evilpenguin 2 years, 6 months ago

Could it be because Wal Mart sucks and does little to improve Lawrence as a town? Yes, I think it could.

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KS 2 years, 6 months ago

Ya know, the city/county doesn't want to haul off grass clippings, doesn't want you to use chemicals to treat your lawn, moans about the amount of water used in sprinkler systems, but yet wants to regulate and not allow a practical alternative! If artificial grass is good enough to play football on, it should be good enough for a yard.

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repaste 2 years, 6 months ago

Website for said turf says you shower after playing on it to remove residue. Will Tuckaway post signs?

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gatekeeper 2 years, 6 months ago

Hey genius, Las Vegas rarely gets any rain and grass isn't native to the SW, in case you haven't heard. Everything in Vegas fake, everything. Lawrence is not Vegas, thank gawd.

So, how much energy and chemicals are used to make this wonderful, green product? It has to replaced every five years or so.

It's not green. Grass can be planted that doesn't require much water and hand mowers and electric battery mowers can be used which use little to no electricity.

I know first hand how ugly this junk is because my sister had it installed at her house in CA and regretted it. You have to clean it. When it does rain, you have run off because the water doesn't soak in. And after a while, it does start looking crappy. And if any animals pee on it, the smell is quite wonderful until you get it cleaned and I mean cleaned well (not just spraying a little water on it).

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

when the commission goes against the reccomendation of staff you have to wonder why

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GardenMomma 2 years, 6 months ago

Super! More storm water runoff to clog the streets and carry who knows what into the river, which, by the way is a source of drinking water for some parts of Lawrence.

Does this turf leech chemicals? I bet it does. Chemicals seeping into the soil, being washed off into the streets, to the river, and to our drinking water.

Even more worrisome is the Commission's "concern" about setting a precedence, "concern" about people believing in asking for forgiveness rather than permission, and still voting to grandfather in the already installed turf!

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 6 months ago

Larry NAtive; Doug Compton did get into the Wal-Mart lawsuit. He owned the property.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 6 months ago

Wal-Mart and Doug knowing the propety did not allow a department store tried to build without rezoning. Claimed they were not a department store even though someone proved that Wal-Mart claimed to be the biggest department store to the SEC.

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lainey 2 years, 6 months ago

For example? How about when a building is considered historic and can't be torn down and it "accidently" burns down. Then he gets his apartments built.

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usesomesense 2 years, 6 months ago

I certainly hope they draft an ordinance for maintenance of artificial turf. The choice to use it is greatly due to low maintenance. If there's no requirements for regular replacement it will look terrible after a few years. Also - if they have a problem with how much was used AND the fact that it was done against code at the very least they should have required removal of SOME of the turf. While it is permeable it will ultimately produce more runoff than real turf since it doesn't consume any water (not to mention the other positive byproducts of real vegetation).

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BruceWayne 2 years, 6 months ago

We ALL knew this would happen, don't act so surprised. I expect this from Amyx and Dever, Fritzel owns them.

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repaste 2 years, 6 months ago

How about that big barn on Queens/1750 Rd? That property used for personal use or against county zoning reg's?

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sad_lawrencian 2 years, 6 months ago

Fire the city commission! This is an outrage!

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Ken Lassman 2 years, 6 months ago

"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." -Malvina Reynolds, 1962

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sad_lawrencian 2 years, 6 months ago

I can't believe that this man Frltzel willfully broke the law, and he's allowed to get away with it. This sets a dangerous precedent in Lawrence: if there's a local ordinance you don't like, ignore it. Then the city commission will just change the ordinance to go along with you. Sigh. The city has the dumbest government of any town I've ever lived in.

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vegieman 2 years, 6 months ago

I joined the Carpenters Union in Lawrence in 1974. Same things were going on then. Nothing has changed, nothing is new, just a different issue.

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

there is a really nice plastic palm tree on 23rd in front of the sandbar sub shop

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ssteve1 2 years, 6 months ago

What? FAKE grass in lawrence? I thought there was only one kind of grass found in 'honk for hemp' land.

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b_rocks 2 years, 6 months ago

The city inspectors have no backbone! If this were done in the county they would have never let it happen in the first place. Why are the city commisioners worried about resourses and energy that it would take to fix this? The codes are there for a reason and contractors and sub-contractors are required to build by them. How can you bid a job when the rules are skewed?

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vegieman 2 years, 6 months ago

Good job Commissioners. The whole motto of the nation is "Go Green".

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

The saddest part is that not everyone could get away with this. This is blatant selective enforcement, and I believe there is something in the constitution about that.

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Richard Payton 2 years, 6 months ago

When it needs replaced I would prefer the discounted Boise State football field as a replacement. Orange grass how cool is that!

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Richard Payton 2 years, 6 months ago

Didn't know I was color blind until now their playing field is blue! That would work KU Blue grass!

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evilpenguin 2 years, 6 months ago

I think, in general, that the city commission does a good job. However, I don't think allowing someone who has broken the rules to keep the article in question is really a good thing. It will definitely send the wrong sort of message to future developers who think that because Tuckaway and the Oread have fake turf, it must be ok with the city.

Imagine, a shoplifter gets busted, gets to keep the merchandise and provide no restitution to the place he stole it from. Plus, no punishment from the law!

Also, Tuckaway will not have to hire someone to keep the grass which is a denial of at least one job in Lawrence, when the local economy sure could use it.

I'd be interested to know what happens if people let their dogs use the turf as a toilet? Will it decompose as normal or will it just sit there until the end of time? I can't imagine that would do much to improve the image of Lawrence....

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gatekeeper 2 years, 6 months ago

If pets use it as a bathroom, it sits there. The grass has to be cleaned. After a while, it's going to look terrible and smell rotten.

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Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

perhaps you have stumbled upon the citizens vigilanty solution to punish these offenders. You want to send a message to developers to stop putting in fake grass? I know where I'll be walking my two dogs!!

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jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

And if you don't pick up after them, you'll be violating city laws.

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gatekeeper 2 years, 6 months ago

You don't have to clean up pee and it will make it reak if we don't get lots of rain to wash it off.

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Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

If I don't pick up after them, I'll change my name to Fritzel and get the law changed

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jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

Good luck with that - let us know how it works out for you.

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fudgystuff 2 years, 6 months ago

Good to know that you can break city policy and get by with it. As a property owner of several houses I will remember that.....I plan on doing whatever I want and if they don't like it-they can sue me. Better yet I'll remind them of Fritzel, Compton, etc. I may sue them right back. We need better and new city council members. Why do we vote for these losers anyway?? Lets get rid of them, all of them.

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kernal 2 years, 6 months ago

Did the Fritzels just flip Lawrence the bird?

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TNPlates 2 years, 6 months ago

I think they asked the Commission to flip Lawrence the bird on their behalf, and on a 4-1 vote, the Commission complied.

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TNPlates 2 years, 6 months ago

“I’ve heard people say that it is easier in this town to ask for forgiveness instead of permission,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said. “If that is the case, we need to change that mentality. But tearing up all this material seems like a waste of resources and energy. That is not being good environmental stewards.”

  • Way to go Mike! Because you and the rest of the Commission are spineless, it truly IS easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It's got to make you wonder whether Dever, Cromwell et al. run their businesses the same way - cut corners and put the full court press on for special consideration after the fact.

Shall we start a pool on when the next rule-breaker comes in for foregiveness from this crew and cites Tuckaway as a precedent? I'll take February 28.

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So_tired_of_the_whiners 2 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps the city should penalize Fritzel the same amount that it would cost to tear up and replace the fake grass. That way the resources aren't wasted but they don't get away scott free.

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TNPlates 2 years, 6 months ago

+1 Great idea, but they'd never get Mr. Fritzel's permission to do that.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 6 months ago

Scott free. You may not have realized how funny that was. OR you may have. Anyway - Good one!

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MarcoPogo 2 years, 6 months ago

So the city commission is truly for "no growth" in Lawrence...

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kernal 2 years, 6 months ago

If Fritzel can do it, then so can I. Think I'll do the front yard in re-cycled plastic grass, add some plastic palm trees and pink flamingos and call it a low maintenance yard. It will save money, be environmentally correct as I won't need to use the noxious gas fume mower and won't need to water during periods of drought. Oh, and it will smother weeds. Yes!!

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Brad Greenwood 2 years, 6 months ago

Since I didn't know it was illegal to put land mines in my yard to keep the neighbor's cats from crapping in it, does this mean I can keep them too?

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MarcoPogo 2 years, 6 months ago

You missed the point of the article: go ahead and do it and worry about (possible) consequences later. Just remember that if those consequences are going to cost you time and/or money, you are in the clear!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Another wonderful attribute so I've been reading. When animals pee and poop on this... the smell never goes away UNLESS one scrubs it...... then maybe it will. It should not be long until cat pee rules the neighborhood.

Of course football stadiums don't have cats and dogs using their turf for the outdoor bathroom.

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cummingshawk 2 years, 6 months ago

Utter and complete failure by the 4. The developer installed the turf knowing it was against the code, they were told to cease installation but now that he has spent the money on an illegal act, why make him adhere to what is apparently a worthless city code?

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tanaumaga 2 years, 6 months ago

Start checking bank accounts.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 6 months ago

If they are going to use the stuff, make it mandetory that they also install a minature golf course with dutch windmills!

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