Archive for Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Menards plan gets first-round OK from county

June 12, 2013


Douglas County commissioners gave their approval Wednesday night to expanding a retail commercial zone east of 31st and Iowa streets.

That means if the Lawrence City Commission goes along, that change in the joint city-county comprehensive plan known as Horizon 2020 will open that area to more large-scale retail development, including a proposed Menards home improvement store.

“Even if this weren’t applicant-driven, I think it makes good sense,” said County Commissioner Jim Flory. “This proposal, if it came just from Planning, is something we would want to consider.”

Flory noted, however, that the county was only giving its consent to a change in the comprehensive plan. The specific proposal by Menards, including the site plan and zoning change, will have to be approved separately by the city of Lawrence.

The comprehensive plan is a tool used by the city and county to guide development, and it is often used as a basis for approving or denying specific zoning requests. The goal is to identify current land use patterns and to set out general guidelines for future development.

Michelle Leininger, a planner in the city-county planning department, noted that the comprehensive plan currently identifies 31st and Iowa as a “retail node,” but does not allow for expansion of that node along 31st Street.

But that’s likely to change with the imminent extension of the South Lawrence Trafficway, which will run just south of 31st Street and link up with Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence.

Tyler Edwards, a real estate representative for the Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards Inc., said that highway, along with other improvements that will go along with it, make the 31st Street location ideal for the company.

He said Menards had long sought to expand into Lawrence, and that the company looked at other retail areas in the area but decided on the 31st Street property, in part so it can be near other big-box retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target.

“Like businesses coexist well when they are near each other,” he said.

Lawrence resident and Kansas University professor of urban planning Kirk McClure urged commissioners to reject the plan, arguing that the city and county should strictly control the expansion of retail development to prevent the market from becoming saturated.

But county commissioners did not indicate that they felt it was their role to set limits on the amount of space available for development. The proposal before them was only to identify an area where future development could be allowed to occur, and all three commissioners agreed that the area along West 31st Street was reasonable.

“On the whole, the location you’ve pursued, I think this makes sense,” said Commission Chairman Mike Gaughan.

In other business, commissioners:

• Awarded a contract to Bettis Asphalt for $173,048 to resurface East 1750 Road from the Baldwin City limits north to County Road 12, with the cost being split evenly between the county and Baldwin City.

• Authorized the refinancing of existing bonds to produce cost savings that will finance construction of the proposed new Public Works facility and communications systems improvements.

• Approved an agreement to work with Treanor Architects to develop a master plan for the Douglas County Fairground at a cost not to exceed $20,000.

• Met in executive session with County Counselor Evan Ice for about 45 minutes to discuss the status of litigation in several matters.


Armored_One 4 years, 9 months ago

Would be nice to not have to drive to Topeka or Kansas City to find out what in store deals Menard's has, particularly on their specialty woods. Home Depot might stock maple, red oak and poplar, but there are plenty of other woods that are pleasant to work with as well.

Silverhair 4 years, 9 months ago

Do they really have to build right on top of Home Depot? Seems like a little bit of distance would be good for the stores and consumers. Maybe they could put it out by the Tractor Supply Store.

John Kyle 4 years, 9 months ago

I hope they build a big empty parking lot, too.

LogicMan 4 years, 9 months ago

Right store, right place, right time! Bring on Menards!

somebodynew 4 years, 9 months ago

"... Kirk McClure urged commissioners to reject the plan,...."

Of course he did. That is what he ALWAYS says. I am quite sure Lawrence would still be nothing but a college campus and dorms if Kirk got his way.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

That's not true, of course, but it is one way to dismiss his arguments without seriously considering them.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 9 months ago

Pretty sure Prof. McClure has the data and research to wholly support his argument.

Urban planning cannot be thought of in 1-2 year spurts. Long term, this will become blight just like every other big-box store.

Sue McDaniel 4 years, 9 months ago

SO no Lowe's but we can put Menards right next to Home Depot. Now that makes sense......wonder who they have behind them.

Armored_One 4 years, 9 months ago

Because it is always a conspiracy, right?

Carol Bowen 4 years, 9 months ago

The city does not "put" anything. According to financial news, Lowes cut back on expansion. Menard's applied for a zoning change. The choice of location was Menard's. If you consider the entire community, they probably chose the best location. The city should be concerned about the capacity of utilities and traffic.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 9 months ago

Menard's needs a high traffic area. While we might think that the northwest side of town is best for us, it's not our choice. Menard's will choose the best location from a business perspective.

otto 4 years, 9 months ago

Will the other big box stores be able to expand if they desire? The size of the Home Depot and small mart were both held back by past city leaders.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 9 months ago

As long as they follow the zoning or get an approved variance.

Currahee 4 years, 9 months ago

Now it's up to the historic commission to block this store. Perhaps its building on an ancient neolithic burial ground?

streetman 4 years, 9 months ago

And don't forget -- the wetlands ARE JUST DOWN THE ROAD!!!!! Oh, the humanity!!!

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

Perfect! I don't want to buy a hammer from Home Depot, I want to buy it from Menards! I still won't be satisfied until we've got a Lowe's at that intersection as well.

LogicMan 4 years, 9 months ago

There's a lot behind (east of) Walmart that's available. But a Sam's Club would be a better fit there.

George_Braziller 4 years, 9 months ago

If Menard's goes in and Home Depot closes it won't be because of competition. It will be because people will no longer have to endure the crappy indifferent customer service you get at any and every Home Depot I've been in. The corporate training manual must include a section on how to provide bad customer service and assistance.

bevy 4 years, 9 months ago

I've spent a lot of time in Home Depot, and have found their customer service people to be friendly, knowledgeable and helpful - the only downside is finding them when you need them!

George_Braziller 4 years, 9 months ago

Your experiences have been better than mine. After finally finding one it has always resulted in waiting for he or she to hunt down a manager who could answer my question. Bleah, I hate Home Depot and only go there as a last resort, when I know exactly what I need, and can get in and out as quickly as possible.

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