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Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

County OKs development pact with city

February 20, 2013

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Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday approved a contract with the city of Lawrence that provides financing for streets, water lines and sewers at a new industrial park being planned in eastern Lawrence.

The agreement, however, is contingent on the Lawrence City Commission acting next month to form what's called a benefit district, where the cost of the improvements would be divided among the lots in the development and levied as special assessments.

City commissioners had been scheduled to hold a public hearing on the benefit district plan Tuesday night, but that hearing was postponed until March 5 due to a technical error in the public notice, according to Chuck Soules, director of the city's Public Works Department.

The East Hills Business Park is being planned at the site of the former Farmland Industries chemical plant on Kansas Highway 10. All but two of the lots are now owned by either the city or the county. One small parcel is owned by Westar Energy; and another is owned by a holding company affiliated with AT&T and is the site of a communications tower.

The agreement allows the county to defer paying its assessments until the lots are sold or developed, and even then the assessments may be waived as a condition of the sale if both the city and county agree.

The total cost of the infrastructure improvements is estimated at $9.58 million.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved merit pay increases of 1.5 percent for the county administrator and elected county officials other than county commissioners. The amount is consistent with merit increases awarded earlier to other county employees.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a visitor center complex at the Baker Wetlands, 1365 N. 1250 Rd.

• Approved technical revisions to the county's road classification map so that county roads are classified in a way that is consistent with their actual or anticipated future use.

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