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Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

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

June 13, 2012

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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.

Comments

MyName 1 year, 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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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

I guess 'control' of the runoff swamp south of "Larryville" is more important than the "fertile farmland" it used to be. The 'complex' now need to 'control' north "Larryville" as "fertile farmland".

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

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Milton Bland 1 year, 10 months ago

Come on, Bozo, since when are property rights a narrow and unfair concept. I can only assume you are a KU professor who has never lived in the competitive world. And I would really appreciate it if you would advise us of your address so we can come and take whatever property we so desire. After all, I probably need your property more than you do.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 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.

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Milton Bland 1 year, 10 months ago

I really admire Jim Flory, but he is pretty much helpless and out-numbered. Douglas County has become an ultra-liberal Marxist territory where there are no longer any individual property rights. The other two commissioners represent the thinking of most of the KU crowd and unfortunately most of Douglas County. I took the advice of a previous sound thinking commissioner (Tom Taul) and left Douglas County. I now reside in an area that still believes the US Constitution has meaning, and I can enjoy my personal property rights.

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oletimer 1 year, 10 months ago

In this time of everyone worrying about rights, what happened to the landowner's rights? If the county wants to farm it, let them buy it and take over. After the war in the west with the new facility being built, they county airheads should realize they are backing themselves into the corner again. I would imagine the city "helped" them make this decision so any growth would be in their precious area. Everyone wants "rights" except if it differs from their view. Typical

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headdoctor 1 year, 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.

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no_thanks 1 year, 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.

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gilly 1 year, 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.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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shleppy 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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no_thanks 1 year, 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).

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