City, county, school board to discuss comprehensive plan at joint meeting; Tyson plant ‘may come up’

photo by: Journal-World file photos

City of Lawrence, Douglas County and Lawrence Public Schools

The Douglas County Commission, Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board will come together for a joint meeting Monday to discuss such shared topics as the comprehensive plan update and, possibly, the Tyson chicken processing plant proposed for Tonganoxie.

The agenda for the joint meeting — from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday at the meeting room of the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, 1365 North 1250 Road — was developed two weeks ago from items each of the three governing bodies submitted. Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said that agenda was set before news broke of the Tyson plant proposed for neighboring Leavenworth County.

“I want to be respectful of the agreed-upon agenda because I know there are some things the school board in particular really wants to talk about, but I suspect the Tyson plant may come up,” she said. “I think all three entities have questions and concerns. I don’t know about my fellow elected officials, but (Tyson) is what everyone wants to talk about to me.”

The city and county have already formed an informal working group to consider the local consequences of the proposed plant, Thellman said. Concerns include the impact on housing and services should the plant draw a large number of employees to Lawrence. A key concern for the county is the environmental and traffic consequences of large poultry barns that might be built to help supply the plant with the 1.25 million chickens it would process each week, she said.

During this summer’s 2018 budget discussions, Douglas County commissioners agreed on the need for a joint meeting with the Lawrence City Commission so leaders of the two governments could talk to each other directly. The Lawrence school board listed a joint meeting with the two commissions among its goals for the year.

Two other joint-meeting agenda topics have been discussed at recent Lawrence school board goal-setting discussions, as well. Those topics are safe routes to school and the possible coordination with the city to expand bus service for students living within 2 miles of their schools. The school district receives no state compensation for busing students living closer than 2 miles to their schools.

The joint meeting update on the city-county comprehensive plan, which will provide a template for Lawrence’s growth, is of interest to all three bodies. A recently released draft of the plan establishes three growth tiers that prioritize infill development and limited expansion of the city’s borders.

The meeting’s listed agenda items and the entities requesting them are: bus transportation for students, school board; expanded internet services for low-income Lawrence residents, school board; Queens Road, city; safe routes to school, city; update of comprehensive plan, city; and an update on the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center, county.

The meeting is open to the public.