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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2013

County OKs project without annexation

April 17, 2013

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Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday agreed to let Schurle Signs, Inc., demolish and reconstruct part of their facility on U.S. Highway 24 north of Lawrence without attaching the normal requirement that the owners sign a consent to future annexation.

Ryan and Jennifer Schurle, who own the company, appealed that recommendation from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning and Development office, saying they felt uncomfortable signing away their right to object to possible future actions by the city.

"I'd be signing away lot of rights," Ryan Schurle told commissioners, adding that he would need to consult with an attorney before accepting such a condition.

Planning officials recommended requiring the consent because the property lies outside the city of Lawrence but within the "urban growth area" defined in the city-county comprehensive development plan.

By signing the consent, the Schurles would have agreed not to protest annexation by the city whenever the city extends sanitary sewers within 200 feet of the property. They also would have agreed not to protest the formation of a benefit district to extend sewer service into the area.

Dan Warner of the planning office said the comprehensive plan established a policy, but not a legal requirement, for that kind of consent to annexation in such cases.

The Schurles plan to demolish a portion of the facility and reconstruct a taller building on the same space. Planning officials said the existing building met setback requirements in the zoning code, and the planned changes would not affect traffic flow around the facility.

Commissioner Jim Flory offered the motion to approve the site plan for the project without the annexation consent, saying it would provide only a minimal benefit in relation to a relatively small project. Commissioners Mike Gaughan and Nancy Thellman agreed.

Commissioners also agreed Wednesday to solicit bids for a road repair project on Route 442 between Stull and the Shawnee County line.

The project is part of the county's annual capital improvements plan and was originally budgeted at about $4 million. But earlier this year commissioners scaled back the project, anticipating a drop in property tax revenues this year.

The revised budget called for spending just $1.25 million to repair pavement and add minimal safety improvements along the two 90-degree turns in the roadway.

County engineer Keith Browning said he now expected the project to come in at about $1.37 million. He said the increase was due mainly to unanticipated engineering costs for the scaled-back project.

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