Archive for Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Editorial: Poor practice

November 27, 2012


The Lawrence City Commission is preparing to follow its own poor precedent by moving forward on annexing a plot of land before the use and zoning for that property has been finalized.

On tonight’s consent agenda — where it will get no discussion unless a commissioner or member of the public specifically requests it — is the annexation of approximately 90 acres just north of Sixth Street on the east side of the South Lawrence Trafficway. If that location sounds familiar, it is the plot on which Kansas University and the city are planning a major recreation development. At its Nov. 12 meeting, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission supported both the annexation of the property and its rezoning from agricultural to general public and institutional uses. However, tonight, the City Commission is being asked to approve only the annexation and not the new zoning intended to accommodate the recreation development.

The city took similar action earlier this year when it thought it was going to work out a deal to put a new recreation center on the northwest corner of the SLT and Sixth Street intersection. A 146-acre plot owned by a development group led by Duane and Steve Schwada was annexed into the city but with no zoning designation. The city had indicated it planned to rezone the land for commercial use, including big-box retail. Then things changed. The recreation development shifted to the east and the Schwada property is sitting in the city but with no zoning designation. Despite their earlier commitment, planners now say the property may not be suitable for retail development. The Schwadas are understandably unhappy and the situation could well land the city in court.

One would think that if nothing else came out of this unpleasant situation, the City Commission would have learned a lesson about annexing land into the city before it was ready to give that land a zoning designation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Despite the fact that many people still are wondering why the city or the KU Endowment Association are willing to enter into a deal that involves a no-bid contract with developer Thomas Fritzel to build the new recreation facilities, plans for the new recreation complex are moving quickly ahead. It seems unlikely at this point that they will fall apart, but it could happen, and then the city could find itself in a similar messy situation to the one across the highway with the Schwadas: land that has been annexed with the assumption that it will be zoned for a purpose that it may no longer serve.

It’s simply good practice for the city to zone land at the same time it is annexed. The city shouldn’t get the cart before the horse on this project or any other.

This whole project, from the beginning to tonight, has been a mess with many deals setting new precedents for the KU Endowment Association, Kansas Athletics and the city of Lawrence.


FlintlockRifle 4 years ago

Have put up hay bales on this ground many years ago when it was the Elkans Prairie, guess time marches on.

homergoodtimes 4 years ago

"This whole project, from the beginning to tonight, has been a mess with many deals setting new precedents for the KU Endowment Association, Kansas Athletics and the city of Lawrence."

A solution to straighten out this mess would be a law suit, a law suit would allow time to investigate "This whole project" and sort out the "many deals setting new precedents".

Question all parties under oath that have been involved with this project over the last year. Then sort out the facts from the fiction.

Thomas Fritzel, Sheahon Zenger Director KU Athletics, Dale Seuferling President of Endowment, Bob Schumm, Hugh Carter, Mike Dever, Duane Schwada, Steve Schwada, Dave Corliss, Gould Evans Architects, Paul Werner, Parks and Rec staff, Jeff Davis Senior VP Investments KU Endowment, Sean Lester KU Athletics, Debbie Van Saun KU Athletics, and many others.

A project that involves the City of Lawrence, KU Athletics and KU Endowment should be beyond question, so far, this is not the case.

somebodynew 4 years ago

Another good editorial. (This is getting scary.)

This entire deal is being pushed through way too quickly and without enough information. I have a feeling this is going to haunt us (taxpayers) for a long time. I hope I am wrong.

Pepe 4 years ago

+1 -- another great editorial which is spot on. All in all, the Journal World has done a good job reporting this situation.

I have a bad feeling that our city leaders are going to cram this thing through despite the fact that the majority of folks in the city seem to be opposed to this corporate welfare. This whole situation is an example of local goverment at its worst.

lawrencereporter 4 years ago

I watched the commission meeting tonight and as the mayor tells the audience the rules of conduct at his meetings I thought of a poem of a old poem I once read, it was obviously written about Bob Schumm "TheTimekeeper"

The timekeeper stares at his watch The seconds are ticking Each tick lets out a deafening roar Each tick unknown to us

The seconds are ticking What are they ticking down to? Each tick unknown to us Is it the beginning? Or the end?

What are they ticking down to? Is it time for us to run? Is it the beginning? Or the end? He is alone, he is eternal

Is it time for us to run? What if there’s no time? He is alone, he is eternal He watches over us

He is disgusted with us Each tick lets out a deafening roar He turns the hands forward, waiting The timekeeper stares at his watch

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