Archive for Friday, February 5, 2016

Lawsuit filed against city over denial of south Iowa Street shopping center

This aerial photo from Sept. 5, 2015 shows the interchange of south Iowa Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. A shopping center project called KTen Crossing was proposed at the southeast corner of the interchange, below center.

This aerial photo from Sept. 5, 2015 shows the interchange of south Iowa Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. A shopping center project called KTen Crossing was proposed at the southeast corner of the interchange, below center.

February 5, 2016, 4:52 p.m. Updated February 5, 2016, 5:59 p.m.

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The city of Lawrence is getting sued over its denial of a proposed shopping center at the South Lawrence Trafficway and Iowa Street interchange.

A lawsuit by landowners and developers was filed Friday in Douglas County District Court alleging that the city used an “improper and illegal basis” for denying a proposed shopping center that would have added about 250,000 square feet of new retail space to the south Iowa Street corridor.

City commissioners on Jan. 5 voted 4-1 to deny rezoning and other planning approvals for the proposed KTen Crossing shopping center project, which was slated for about 60 acres of farm ground at the southeast corner of Iowa Street and the SLT interchange.

Commissioners cited concerns about whether the shopping center proposal was suitable for the area, which is just north of the Wakarusa River, and whether the city was prepared to grow south of the South Lawrence Trafficway, which is scheduled to be completed later this year.

The lawsuit — which was filed on behalf of property owners Armstrong Management, Grisham Management and the development group SLT, LLC — argues that was a bogus reason for denial.

“Development and city infrastructure is already occurring south of the SLT,” the lawsuit, filed by the Kansas City law firm Polsinelli PC, reads. “Nevertheless, the City Commission’s supermajority selected an arbitrary and capricious reason for denying the applications: The city is not ready to cross over to the south side of the SLT.”

An attempt to reach a city official for comment wasn’t immediately successful.

Other arguments made in the lawsuit include:

• The proposed shopping center plans “generally comply” with Horizon 2020, the city’s comprehensive land use plan. That plan envisions auto-related commercial uses developing on at least a portion of the proposed shopping center site. The development group was seeking to develop a regional shopping center at the site, which would have included big-box stores, restaurants and other retailers. The city’s auto-related commercial designation would not have allowed big-box stores, but instead envisioned auto dealerships, hotels, fueling centers, or other such uses that attracted motorists off the highways that run by the site. City officials have contended the big-box retail shopping center would be significantly more intense than an auto-related commercial center. The lawsuit disputes that contention.

• The plaintiffs allege the general public will be harmed by the city’s denial because the property is now likely to sit vacant or remain underutilized. “The public, because of the city’s action, has missed retail shopping opportunities, job opportunities (nearly 500), an opportunity for an attractive southern ‘gateway’ to the city, and missed sales and property tax opportunities,” the lawsuit reads.

• The attorneys argue the city has placed the property in a “holding pattern” that is unfair to the property’s owners. The property was annexed into the city limits in 1979, and has been zoned for single-family residential use since that time. But the property has never developed in that fashion, and the lawsuit contends the city has never intended for the property to develop with single-family homes.

Attorneys for the city will have a chance to file an answer to the lawsuit in the coming weeks.

Representatives with North Carolina-based Collett development previously said Academy Sports, Old Navy, HomeGoods and several other retailers had either signed letters of intent or made other commitments to locate at the project.

A representative of the development group wasn’t available for comment on Friday afternoon, and an attempt to reach the plaintiff’s attorney also was unsuccessful.

Comments

David Holroyd 1 year, 11 months ago

What development and infrastructure is already occurring? Just curious.

Thanks.

Paul Beyer 1 year, 11 months ago

Seems Ftitzel and Compton need to work a little harder to now buy the courts. City Council purchase not enough.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The city cannot deny use of the land?

Land owners gamble when buying property and no the community will not be deprived.

Lawrence,Kansas is flooded beyond reality so in essence the city did whatever retailers a favor.... those that allegedly have suggested they might want to locate at this disaster for retail success.

Hell I won't drive out there to shop.

Amy Varoli Elliott 1 year, 11 months ago

I would love for some more store, will save me a ton on gas being as I do next to no shopping in Lawrence because the selection here stinks.

And I love the way you try to make it sound like Lawrence is that big, you can drive from the far west to the far east sides in about 15 minutes.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Well if it is such a short drive how can there be a need for another shopping center loaded with downsized stores? and poor selection? It's Oak Park Mall here I come.

How many daily shoppers will this center require to be a success to the retailers and to the community as a source for sales tax revenue and a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour per employee?

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

A short supply of shoppers will only leave behind vacant spaces and a drag on the local economy.

It seems to me that successful developers have signed vendor contracts in place before moving forward?

If a property owner wants to build perhaps that property owner should be required to install all the new infrastructure with zero assistance from taxpayers and MUST meet code no matter what. When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

Which means of course an inspector will be required 7 days a week to facilitate no site plan violations,no crappy construction,no crappy concrete etc etc etc. We know these things after several years of dealing with pushy developers.

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

ZERO tax dollar assistance of any kind because this type of laissez faire expansion is a risk to the community economy.

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

How many daily shoppers will this center require to be a success to the retailers and to the community as a source for sales tax revenue and a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour per employee?

Amy Varoli Elliott 1 year, 11 months ago

I would rather drive 10 minutes to drive to stores in Lawrence than 45 to Oak Park mall. I don't know anyone with kids who do their shopping in Lawrence. If they tell them up front no tax incentive the business people will let you know if it's feasible. You can keep wasting your time at Oak Park I would rather stay in Lawrence.

Bob Summers 1 year, 11 months ago

Why does the government hate people making money the old fashioned way?

Why do they regulate making money out of existence?

Brett McCabe 1 year, 11 months ago

Bob, you do realize that corporate profits in this county are at an all-time high? Right?

Will White 1 year, 11 months ago

Are profits a problem for you? Do you work for a company? Bet you hope their profits stay intact so you can keep your job. Or do you have your own company? Would you like to be hated because you make a profit? Maybe you could just provide your services for free. Flat out stupid reasoning.

Sam Crow 1 year, 11 months ago

This is fantastic news

It was only a matter of time before such a suit was filed. These denials have happened far too many times here. Such suits are frequently lost by cities.

The pet sitter and her band of dwarfs will have to legally justify their decision to deny property owners their property rights based on capricious, arbitrary, and discriminatory reasons. It is going to take much more than a simple “statement of fact” for the courts to deny this.

Now the Lawrence anti growth zealots will have to determine how many tens of thousands of tax dollars the city wants to spend on a lost cause to defend their desire to inhibit progress simply because they want to.

Bob Summers 1 year, 11 months ago

In the same breath the ideologue zealots want more tax money to build plastic pseudo ice rinks to scoot on.

Bob Summers 1 year, 11 months ago

...and then laugh at it because it's not real ice.

Sue McDaniel 1 year, 11 months ago

I am so thrilled they are doing this!!! The denial was so bogus and wrong.....just admit that it was a mistake to deny this and save a lot of time and money fighting over this!!!!!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Where are the shoppers?

How can there be a need for another shopping center loaded with downsized stores? and poor selection? It's Oak Park Mall here I come.

How many daily shoppers will this center require to be a success to the retailers and to the community as a source for sales tax revenue and a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour per employee?

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

A short supply of shoppers will only leave behind vacant spaces and a drag on the local economy.

It seems to me that successful developers have signed vendor contracts in place before moving forward?

If a property owner wants to build perhaps that property owner should be required to install all the new infrastructure with zero assistance from taxpayers and MUST meet code no matter what. When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

Which means of course an inspector will be required 7 days a week to facilitate no site plan violations,no crappy construction,no crappy concrete etc etc etc. We know these things after several years of dealing with pushy developers.

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

ZERO tax dollar assistance of any kind because this type of laissez faire expansion is a risk to the community economy.

When site plan violations occur including new infrastructure the building permit should be pulled immediately.

How many daily shoppers will this center require to be a success to the retailers and to the community as a source for sales tax revenue and a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour per employee?

Where are the shoppers?

Bob Summers 1 year, 11 months ago

Where are the shoppers? Chicken or the egg reasoning.

Michelle Fales 1 year, 11 months ago

Richard, I respect your right to post here. However no need to copy and paste what you posted above. We read it once...no need to read it again. Or again. Posting here does require a bit of etiquette and respect for others. Thank you.

As much as I would love for KTen to be approved, I would think that the commission has the right to deny or approve any zoning change request. I guess I'll grab my popcorn and watch how this plays out. No butter please.

Mike Edson 1 year, 11 months ago

As a member of the general public, I do not feel harmed by the city's decision. Why create more retail space when there is already empty retail space in the Home Depot parking lot that has been sitting vacant for years?

Scott Burkhart 1 year, 11 months ago

Mike, just because there is space does not make it a good retail center. There are many reasons why those retail spaces are sitting empty. Academy wants to come to town. Do you seriously think they are going to lease one of those empty spaces at Home Depot?

Stacy Napier 1 year, 11 months ago

Not to mention who cares if retail space is empty. It lowers rent and the city/county get property tax out if it's vacant or not. So the only one losing is the owner of the property.

Michelle Reynolds 1 year, 11 months ago

Michelle Mike Amyx was on the commission that told the KTen crossing group and the owners that if they met certain requirements that would be approved. So they spent hundred of thousands of dollars meeting every requirement. Then this new commission just changes their mind. Sorry it doesn't work like that. It would be like you going to the grocery store with an understanding of what an item costs. But when you get to the register the cashier says sorry it costs twice as much. You ask why? The cashier says because I don't want you to buy it. You can't just arbitrarily change the rules after you make an agreement.

Michelle Fales 1 year, 11 months ago

I get what you're saying. I just think it will be interesting to watch how it plays out. I just hope the city spends a lot less in legal fees than they did with the Walmart mess. The Walmart that has a full parking lot all the time.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

Hi Michelle: I need a clarification on this statement: "Mike Amyx was on the commission that told the KTen crossing group and the owners that if they met certain requirements that would be approved." Are you saying that the previous commission actually voted on this issue the first time (when it was denied by PC) and made suggestions about certain requirements?

Will White 1 year, 11 months ago

It is widely known that the group listened to input from the PC and had seperate meetings with the commissioners, nothing unusual there. They were "listening " to why there was concern about the project, and they fixed those concerns..

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

I know that it's pro forma for developers to meet with city commissioners individually. My concern was with the particular phrasing of Michelle's comment. Just wanted to be sure that no one is under the impression that a previous city commission voted to deny the original project, but provided suggestions as to how a revised version might pass.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't recall a proposal to the city commission. I do recall the developer's proposal being withdrawn before it reached the city commission.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

That's why I asked for clarification. And I reviewed the PC minutes from the original proposal discussion. I couldn't really find any recommendations from them, either, that would have suggested an automatic approval for this latest submission.

Ken Easthouse 1 year, 11 months ago

I had two concerns when this was first brought up to the City Commission: 1) How will this impact the Baker Wetlands and the flood plain, and 2) The zoning request they are asking for requires the lot to be a certain size, and the lot in question is actually slightly smaller (roughly 2-ish acres too small, as I recall).

When the administrator of the Wetlands spoke in support of the project and explained the flood plain and impact of the area, that satisfied concern 1 for me.

I'm still concerned about the size of the zoning, where the lot is smaller than our current zoning requirements allow. I could understand a denial for that reason, even though it's a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of things.

To one of your points, Richard, the $15/hour wage won't be happening at these stores. They city only requires living wage jobs for new businesses when they are asking for tax incentives. The KTen folks have asked for nothing, which is one of the ideal selling points.

Mayor Amyx's comments about "smart planning" confused me the most, as it appears to be selectively applied. It seems there is still a push to force new retailers out to the Mercato district, owned by members of the Fritzell group, but retailers either simply don't want to go there, or the development group hasn't put forth the effort to attract business. After the Oread ordeal, I'm summarily suspicious of any activity that could be tied back to the Fritzell family, from new construction to forcing development into specific, "friendly" areas.

I suspect how this all plays out will have a dramatic effect on the next City Commission election, regardless.

Michelle Fales 1 year, 11 months ago

Ken, will you be voting in that election or will you wait to see if any of the candidates appeal to you?

FYI, it's Fritzel.

Ken Easthouse 1 year, 11 months ago

I presume that's a quip against my voting record which has been - admittedly - less than stellar.

In the past I've taken a flawed approach to voting, waiting for a candidate to appeal to the issues I thought were important. I suspect many people in my generation think the same thing. Local politics gets the least media attention, so we either don't pay close enough attention or wait until a friend gets us engaged.

I am now engaged, plugged in, and fully intend to participate. Moreover, I'm that "friend" trying to drag the Millennials into full participation in all levels of government.

Sue McDaniel 1 year, 11 months ago

I am voting!!!!!!! Always!!!! Sweeping change has not turned out to be a good thing......except Matt....and he voted for this!

Samuel Brown 1 year, 11 months ago

As much as I hate to see our tax dollars spent defending this commission's actions, I welcome this lawsuit. We have a city and county commission who have some big ticket items coming up (i.e. new police facility, new county jail w/ CIT, etc.) that they will be asking property owners to pay for, which I absolutely think we should. Those items provide core government functions. But what these commissions fail to understand is that you cannot continue to saddle the existing tax base with the costs of these items and not expect adverse results. The current group of property tax owners are tired of being hit up. If we want to continue to grow we need to allow more development, especially development that is not asking for any incentives, that will increase the property tax rolls. Unfortunately, this city commission set us back a couple years as the business community pays attention to decisions like theirs. Fortunately, there are individuals in this community who will continue to work hard to grow this community regardless of the actions of our leaders who seem to fail to grasp the understanding of basic economics.

Michelle Fales 1 year, 11 months ago

This developer was asking for NO incentives.

Cille King 1 year, 11 months ago

Retail, generally, does not qualify for ANY incentives.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

What Cille said. Plus, I cannot even begin to imagine where the money would come from to pay for all the infrastructure costs in the next budget. Maybe the extra money collected from parking fines? ;-)

Samuel Brown 1 year, 11 months ago

The developer was going to pay all the infrastructure costs across the SLT to the project.

Cille King 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't believe that is correct. The city was at least covering some of the costs of the water main. And I don't recall any discussion of road, turn lanes, or traffic lights. Enlighten me if I'm wrong.

Samuel Brown 1 year, 11 months ago

That's what I said. Read slower next time.

Samantha Martin 1 year, 11 months ago

What happens when Collett asks for money from the taxpayers, which you know they would have if zoning was approved. Not unlike HERE, as soon as they were gifted with 85% tax abatement they immediately started to ask for changes that bettered there deal.

How's Jeremy Farmer?

Samuel Brown 1 year, 11 months ago

What part of the developers were not asking for any incentives do you not understand? HERE asked for incentives from day 1. Everybody knew that situation going in. I was not in favor of the level of incentives the commission granted to that project either.

I wouldn't know how Farmer is. I am not friends with him.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

No incentives except for: Taxpayers usually pay for new infrastructure ......... = incentive. I say we do not need to pay for any new infrastructure across the board.

Is there a request for incentives in the final package? Local developers have asked for incentives after the fact which is a reckless precedent. KTEN people likely know this.

Lawrence city commissions have changed their minds in the past. No decision is ever written in stone.

Yes city government should always be the last word like it or not. No matter what Comm Amyx may have said to KTEN..... KTEN did not receive Commission approval or a majority vote supporting what Comm Amyx allegedly said.

What exactly did Comm Amyx say?

The HERE project should have been stopped on first knowledge that the parking situation had been seriously compromised. There is still nothing solid regarding that issue.

Cille King 1 year, 11 months ago

Some of us here think that Comm Amyx didn't say anything. That this issue didn't go before the City Commission the first time, after the Planning Commission denied it.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

He didn't. It didn't. I don't know how that urban legend got started.

Jeremiah Jefferson 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't really have a dog in this fight since I commute from Ottawa to Lawrence every day for work and don't live here. But I was glad they shot this deal down. My favorite part of the commute is looking into those fields and seeing the deer, turkeys and geese almost daily. Much rather see wildlife than a shoe store..

Mike Edson 1 year, 11 months ago

I second that. There are already enough stores in this town that will only make it six months and then close. Then another retail space will sit empty. This town needs to use and repurpose the retail space it has.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Tax increasing growth has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods ,closing neighborhood schools and ignoring the taxpayers desire for a walking/cycling friendly community.

Why do developers design projects that cannot profit with subsidies from local taxpayers aka incentives?

But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned. Developers and their tax increasing business unfriendly growth plans are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Higher city taxes/user fees is the direct result of over 30 years of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayers. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads, water/sewer lines,traffic lights as well as the quite generous ones like the wide variety of tax incentives that support local developers in their quest to further over build Lawrence,Kansas.

Lawrence is likely in the neighborhood of overload of say 30%-40%.

The Lawrence Downtown family retail experience is an endangered species thus business unfriendly.

We've subsidized tax increasing growth at such a basic level for so long, that many taxpayers believe without it Lawrence will die. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of business unfriendly tax increasing development.

Samuel Brown 1 year, 11 months ago

This developer was not asking for any incentives. You may not agree that this was the highest and best use for that piece of ground. But please get your facts straight. Your lack of knowledge is exhausting.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

I fully support the commissioners decision to deny further expansion at this moment in time maybe for another 20 years. Until Lawrence has a rock solid economy.

How do we subsidize local profiteers? aka Incentives.

--- building new and wider roads such as the SLT.

--- building schools on the fringe.

--- extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development.

--- extending emergency services to the fringe.

--- direct pay-outs to developers.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

"Free Lunch: How Local Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Taxpayer Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)." Johnston reveals how government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the local poor and the local middle class to the rich politically connected.

Bill Moyers http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

David Cay Johnson – What exactly is TIF? http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Still draining our wallets and increasing taxes which is supporting an overload of say 30%-40% which says our forced tax dollar investments are not paying back.

Bob Smith 1 year, 11 months ago

Two 8 year old links and one that is undated. Please get some new material. We've seen this stuff over and over and over.

Sam Crow 1 year, 11 months ago

Polsinelli is not a lawyer that deals with speeding tickets and shares an office with a dentist.

It is a famous legal firm with nationwide offices. They have people that specialize in nothing but real estate development law, having extensive experience in dealing with bumpkin towns like Lawrence. Its legal resources are limitless.

Lawrence will have to hire equally high priced legal talent for this suit. Toni Wheeler should have counseled against this decision from the start. I hope there is an insurance policy with a small deductible in place for it.

The pet sitter and her small thinking minions are about to get schooled in real estate law.

Unfortunately, Lawrence taxpayers will have to pay the tuition.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't think a North Carolina developer ought to be able to tell an elected body that they have to adjust the city's master plan so that a North Carolina developer can make money.

This suit has zero chance of success. I believe that a first-year law student could probably defend the city successfully.

The property owners, who have had years to develop and market their property properly have now decided to sue to compensate for their own ineptness in managing their assets. If this property has become such a financial liability, why haven't they sold it? I'm guessing they could list and sell it in 48 hours. After all, anyone can see that the value and demand for that property is only going to go up.

Oh....now I get it....the North Carolinians understand this too, and know if they don't get this deal done now, the clueless property owners are going to realize that they are, in fact, sitting on a nice shiny diamond, or acres of diamonds as the story goes.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

People who buy real estate are gamblers therefore assume the risks associated with gambling.

It is NOT the taxpayers responsibility to guarantee a profit on any local investment.

If KTEN investors made the decision to move forward based on what one commissioner might have said that would be a reckless decision.

Now if anyone involved in the selling of a plot of real estate indicated that Lawrence is a hot bed of retail sales beyond reality and this purchase was based on that analogy perhaps the legal action should be directed NOT at city government.

City government works for thousands upon thousands of taxpayers not the real estate industry nor the development industry.

"Commissioners cited concerns about whether the shopping center proposal was suitable for the area, which is just north of the Wakarusa River, and whether the city was prepared to grow south of the South Lawrence Trafficway". The city is not ready to cross over to the south side of the SLT.”

I stand by the City Commission decision as a stakeholder.

Thomas Shorock 1 year, 11 months ago

I find it hard to get that worked up over something so absurdly beige.

But, if you're looking for a good reason that area should be specifically "auto oriented" (i.e., truck stop) instead of general retail (or residential), I think one should consider other access modes. KDOT did not see fit to redesign/rebuild the Iowa Street/SLT bridge to allow pedestrians and cyclists access to this area. The KTEN Crossing plan didn't include sidewalks to tie back to Michigan Street either. If one city goal is trying to keep "Walk Friendly" and "Bicycle Friendly" rankings, this plan is pretty laughable on that score.

Terry Sexton 1 year, 11 months ago

The city has new walking and biking paths that are adjacent to this proposed development. When they're finished, and they almost are, this area will be very fitness friendly. Check Well Commons for the map.

Thomas Shorock 1 year, 11 months ago

Not sure I'm finding the same map. The nearest sidewalk I could find (and I was out cycling in that area last weekend) was at Michigan, half a mile east of this project. Is that what you mean by adjacent?

Terry Sexton 1 year, 11 months ago

Hi, Thomas. I hope this link works:

http://livewelllawrence.org/documentcenter/view/306

Please take notice of the red line at the bottom of the map. It shows what's under construction, though most of that is already completed (the part between the new south Michigan Street and Haskell Ave.) The part between the existing path just west of Iowa and south Michigan isn't done yet. I suspect it will be finished about the same time they open up the entrance/exit ramps for the bypass.

At any rate, it goes pretty much right by the proposed new shopping area.

Thomas Shorock 1 year, 11 months ago

That red line is on the north side of the SLT (at that point). It's already paved and sitting next to Crown Toyota. Rode it last weekend. The KTEN development is on the south side. In between is no-shoulder, no sidewalk Iowa St. under the bridge.

Joe Herynk 1 year, 11 months ago

As a taxpayer I welcome the lawsuit. The reasons given for denial by our four dissenting commissioners were nothing more than political fairy dust.

Are we to believe that 80% of the electorate was in favor of denying this project (4 out of 5 commissioners)? Perhaps if our elected officials spent more time representing the majority opinion of the electorate rather than promoting their own special interest we would see progress instead of stagnation.

There is a reason that our city continues to lead the state in the highest cost of living and the lowest wages. Everything happens for a reason. Sometime the reason is that we are stupid and we make bad decisions.

Marsha Goff 1 year, 11 months ago

I personally hope the lawsuit is successful. Lawrence is no longer regarded as that vibrant, progressive city on the hill that it once was.

My husband and I love walking the bike/pedestrian paths along the bypass as well as those walkways through the Wetlands. Who do we have to thank for those? Not the city. Not those who opposed the bypass and delayed it for decades, increasing its cost by millions.

One more thing: I'm sure Michigan Street lines up on a map with the road through the Wetlands, but why didn't someone get creative and name it something appropriate like Wetlands Drive or Baker Avenue?

Rob Chestnut 1 year, 11 months ago

There are a lot of comments across the board about the merits of development and who pays for infrastructure. However, at this point it is not relevant. The commission provided a vague interpretation of the zoning requirement for this piece of property. The property owner has the right to ask the court to decide whether or not their interpretation was reasonable. The commission does not have an exclusive right to approve or deny a request without good cause.

Mr. Heckler is correct that those who buy real estate take a risk for an expectation of return However, they also have the expectation that a predictable process will be in place to move forward. The current property owner who owns a property annexed into the City and paying property taxes (with special assessments for infrastructure) should have a reasonable expectation that they can obtain a return for their investment.

I am concerned that some of the discussion by the commission was directed at a desire to steer development to other pieces of property. It is bad precedent to select winners and losers when the focus should be on creating a level playing field for everyone.

In the end, all parties are pursuing their rights. The City has a right to defend its decision. The developers have a right to contest the ruling to judge its reasonableness.

This proposal demonstrates the challenge we have as a community to provide clarity regarding our development policy.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Rob, Thank you for clarifying the role of the city commission. It did not make sense to me that any applicant would expect an automatic approval. There would be no reason for the city commission to be a part of the process. It makes more sense that an applicant would expect a yes, no, or maybe.

I did not see or hear any discussion of an overall traffic plan that would plan the traffic flow generated from this area and its impact on the rest of the transportation (street) system. H2020 does state the need to address capacity regardless of the type of development.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Scrolling through the posts, here's what happened:

  • The first proposal was rejected by the planning commission.
  • The second proposal was approved by the planning commission.
  • The second proposal was rejected by the city commission.

Can someone fill in on what the planning department recommended? We need to get our facts straight for a productive dialog.

Sam Crow 1 year, 11 months ago

From the LJW last month:

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission recommended the changes for approval, as did the city’s planning staff.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope that the city "commission" gets their collective butts kicked in this one. I am sick and tired of the fools that get elected in this town thatgenerally ignores city elections. The fools are elected by a miniscule few anti-growth voters who are hide bound to prevent growth and follow the worn out vision of "beautiful downtown Lawrence."

Hope the city gets hit with a several million dollar fine. Then they won't have much left over to build more roundabouts.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Wasn't Leslie Soden the top vote getter?

Sam Crow 1 year, 11 months ago

Some of the reasons given for rejection:

“We’re jumping the SLT, and we’re not prepared to do that.”

“…should be more thoughtfully considered…”

“… “some real serious concerns” about encouraging development close to the floodplain surrounding the Wakarusa River.”

“…it would leave areas of the city, such as the existing, empty commercial area near Rock Chalk Park — known as Mercato — underserved.”

The issue that the city will have is, that as the suit says, the reasons were capricious and arbitrary.

As noted, the planning staff and commission recommended the changes for approval.

Such decisions to deny property rights cannot be made on emotional, impetuous and impulsive reasons. They must be made based on law and established policy.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Rob Chestnut summed it well:

".In the end, all parties are pursuing their rights. The City has a right to defend its decision. The developers have a right to contest the ruling to judge its reasonableness.

This proposal demonstrates the challenge we have as a community to provide clarity regarding our development policy."

David Holroyd 1 year, 11 months ago

It is really fun to be in a place with nice weather and folks enjoying themselves. Lawrence is a destination of a narrow minded community fussing over confederate flags, parking problems that none of the commissioners are willing to address in a business minded approach, covert behind the scenes dealing with HERE parking( I want some meters on my street that I get to keep the money from) and Samantha beat me to it, the question of where is Mr Farmer ? He may be with Waldo!:)

A comic book in the making!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

There should be in place a right to deny based on a retail market that is over extended. I do distinctly remember that a consultant group did suggest that the Lawrence retail market was over built by 30%.

Of course some involved in real estate sales would never want to accept that. However it seems to me it would only be fair to any potential land buyer with retail in mind to be advised of such before purchasing. Therefore should be further advised that there could be a waiting period perhaps years before the property could be developed for retail.

This KTEN project will not only pull consumers away from downtown but from all other retail units throughout the community. Does anyone know for sure that enough consumer traffic can be secured for KTEN to be successful? Hopefully all concerned are not relying on speculation.

Th first mistake was annexing the property before the local retail economy dictated that this market could in fact support such a venture without fail.

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