Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

County approves plan keeping land in N.E. Lawrence primarily agricultural

June 13, 2012


It won’t completely prevent industrial development in northeast Lawrence, but, its supporters hope, it will make building in the area a whole lot harder.

The northeast sector plan, largely preventing new industrial development, was approved by the county commission on Wednesday. It'll be sent to city commission next.

The northeast sector plan, largely preventing new industrial development, was approved by the county commission on Wednesday. It'll be sent to city commission next.

The Northeast Sector Plan for future land use in the area, marked by the Kansas River at the south and west, North 2100 Road at the north and East 1700 Road at the east, was approved on a 2-to-1 vote by the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday night.

The plan calls for no new industrial development in the area and keeping it primarily zoned for agriculture. The passed resolution marks action in the planning process, which has been going through committee and public review for more than four years. But it’s not the end of the road; the City Commission will also vote on Comprehensive Plan Amendment CPA-6-5-09, though it’s not yet clear when.

The debate over the amendment, which changes the county and city code for future land use in the area, touched on themes of individual property rights versus collective public good as four members of the public spoke of concerns about flooding homes in North Lawrence and preserving the high-quality class 1 and 2 soil of the agricultural land farther from the city.

Commissioner Jim Flory opposed the amendment on the grounds that the property owners in the sector have the right to self-determine its zoning future and that halting development doesn’t, in fact, protect the area from flooding or stormwater drainage issues or preserve soil types as amendment supporters professed.

“The role of the government should be to give the least restrictive plan possible,” Flory said.

Flory also said that those opposing the plan had “given up” in the long, grueling process of changes proposed by the Planning Commission.

At the last County Commission meeting on the topic, the public comment provided was about evenly split, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, four members of the public spoke in support of the measure, each saying that preventing industrial development was the only way to protect North Lawrence homes and existing buildings as well as agricultural strength. The reason for this, said Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Association, is the fact that digging, especially in the area around the airport, causes stormwater build-up.

Flory was out-voted by commissioners Mike Gaughan and Nancy Thellman. Gaughan said that the county offered other viable locations for future industrial development, including in the northwest sector, that didn’t threaten existing homes like the northeast sector plan might.

“Our responsibility is to incorporate the rights,” he said, “of all with interests in the area.”

Thellman pointed out that the amendment, even if upheld by the City Commission, does not prevent landowners from proposing development as long as water issues are included in their future plans.

“Our job is more about meeting the greater public interest,” she said.

The commission on Wednesday also approved ending the bidding process and moving forward into the contract stage in a multiyear project to upgrade the public safety radio system in the county. Motorola Solutions was chosen for the civil engineering aspect of the project.

Also on the agenda, the group set June 27 as the date for a public hearing on the adjacent property owners’ contribution of $180,000 to the $1.4 million upgrade for Lake Alvamar. The meeting will be at 6:35 p.m. in the Douglas County Courthouse.


no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

Once again Commissioner Flory remains the sole voice of reason in believing owners, and not government, should determine what is the best use for their property. Planning in this case is done as a means of limiting choices (ie competition) rather than focusing on the collective good (which sounds like socialism).

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 10 months ago

The problem with the so called property rights movement is it fails to recognize that we are a community and what one person does with their property affects the rights of neighboring property owners, their tenants if any and the public in general. The role of government isn't static nor is it what any one person like Jim flory thinks it should be. It is what we all together think it should be as expressed through democratic processes with respect for minority views and interests.

Planning doesn't limit choices. It expands choices. In this case farmers will keep farming and homeowners won't be flooded, etc. Most Americans believe their communities need more not less planning. A report found at explains a recent survey to that end.

Finally stop trying to scare people with mcarthy like tactics using words like socialism. Tactics like that are for people too dim to articulate their thoughts.

Nathan Atchison 5 years, 10 months ago

that is some of the best agricultural property in the world, to use it for development would be a shame.

JackMcKee 5 years, 10 months ago

that entire part of Lawrence is like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Raze it all.

Jennifer Dropkin 5 years, 10 months ago

The county did the right thing. Tearing up and paving over floodplain soil takes the most nutritious growing land out of production and places even more human structures in a floodplain. Meaning that they will flood. Really. It wouldn't be a floodplain if it didn't flood, and it will do so again.

no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

I don't disgree that it is good agricultural land . My point is that it is not the County's job to determine the best use of the land through planning rather than allowing the property owner to arrive at a decision as to what they deem is the best use of the ground. Now, the County does have the right to ensure that the property owner's action does not harm others property, so if there truly are stormwater issues that needs to be addressed with appropriate grading and sewer design, but the argument of preserving ag ground or that it is in the floodplain (development in a floodplain is a risk that the property owner is willing to take) is not a determination for the County unless they own the property.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 10 months ago

Actually, it is the county's job to engage in land use planning and has been for almost 100 years. The us supreme court has upheld this as a legitimate public purpose since 1922. Please remember that land development requires the extension of PUBLIC infrastructure. It is in the public interest to make sure the community develops in a reasonable way.

Don't just make stuff up. Actually know what you are talking about first.

no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

I should have said I don't believe the County should have the right to determine the best use of private property. They do have the right to enure the use does not infringe on ither property owners.

As for the socialism comment, land use planning is an attempt to centrally plan the direction of resources and/or economic activity to meet political ends. History is full of the failings of centrally planned economies, most of which were socialists countries. So, if it looks like a duck....

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 10 months ago

Land use planning is not socialism. Again you are making this up or you have been misinformed by someone who did. It was the US department of Commerce that proposed model legislation for state governments to adopt authorizing land use planning and zoning. The commerce department did this at the encouragement of private businesses, you know the so called job creators, to protect and enhance their property rights.

no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

I concur with your sentiment about why businesses approached the Commerce Department, but planning today isn't about preserving prime ag ground or directing growth to one area of town, it is about limiting competition.

headdoctor 5 years, 10 months ago

That North West area has been made a joke first by the City with Horizon 2020 and now by the County Commissioners. I am very tired of the development direction being controlled by a hand full of people that are basically wanting to protect their own ideas of land use or investments and especially those who want to shape the development so their land is the primary option.

If they ever get a sewer line under I-70 we will see how long this BS continues. What is funny is Horizon 2020 calls for allowing development there. Just not until 2030 or later. If the locals don't want it developed I suggest they pool their money and buy out the land owners then turn it into some sort of a preserve.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 10 months ago

The public has rights too. These are best expressed through a plan developed with public input. Private property rights aren't without limit. They never have been in this country ever. From the beginning noxious uses like tanneries were located far from homes. Get a clue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

Libertarians may wish it so, but the Holy Worship of Property Rights is a very narrow, and not particularly fair or useful, way to approach intelligent land use. This plan does not prevent the development of N. Lawrence and the prime agricultural land that surrounds it. It merely places protecting that particular land use at a very high priority-- something that future generations who appreciate eating will thank this commission for doing.

no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

Not fair or useful or intelligent use? Who better to determine what is the best use of property, the owner who stands to benefit from uses that increase the value of the land, or the County who responds to political sentiment to determine the best use? And, if this prime ground is the key to our future food supply, you would do well to buy the ground today.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

Yet another Holy Worshipper of Property Rights, attempting to assert that property owners should be allowed to do whatever they want with their property, no exceptions.

"And, if this prime ground is the key to our future food supply, you would do well to buy the ground today."

Under this plan, the property owners have the right to sell it, or to use it for purposes allowed under this plan (which almost certainly allow many purposes other than strictly agriculture.) And the restrictions aren't any more unreasonable than those that prevent you from putting a nuclear waste dump in your back yard. But that doesn't make it a marxist/leninist utopia, as your simplistic interpretation would assert.

no_thanks 5 years, 10 months ago

I have argued that property owners cannot do whatever they want with their property in terms of uses that would cause harm to others property (i.e. they cannot pollute, change the grading that could cause flooding on others land, or violate State and Federal laws, etc...). And, you are correct in that the property owner does have the right to sell the ground, but its limited uses does not allow them the opportunity to optimize the benefit of ownership as the County has decided what they deem is the best limited use of the ground.

In the end, most of the people in the are we are talking about will continue farming in North Lawrence as to them the subjective value of farming exceeds the value of developing the land. I strongly support that decision. But, the owner should still retain the right to determine the best use of their land within the framework discussed earlier.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

Well, I'll ignore your inaccurate straw-man arguments, but I'd like to point out that there is nothing in this plan that confiscates any property. That is to say, none.

But I expect that hysteria is your preferred condition, so, carry on.

William McCauley 5 years, 10 months ago

"When will the 'complex' raise the asphalt at the airport to expose more "fertile farmland'?

They won't for a few reasons, well 11.5 million reasons, with a pending future request for 13.5 million more reasons that will never happen. In fact, part of that pending request for many more millions, , is for more runway & taxi way, as well as tarmac to be put down.

MyName 5 years, 10 months ago

I don't understand how people think that beating the drum of some BS national political philosophy is helpful. These are local issues and should be decided without channelling the ghost of Robert Nozick. It's democracy 101: if you don't like what your official is doing, let them know about it and get 1000 of your friends to help.

More to the point, can anyone tell me why we should rezone prime agricultural land that's been feeding people for 100+ years in order to put in another failed industrial park or, heaven forbid, another Farmland Industries right on the river? They're not even dumb enough to pull something like that in NW Topeka.

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