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SLT may be stimulating housing; a taxing library question; a restaurant update; and an art walk with karaoke


Sean Reid, director of the Douglas County Zoning and Codes Department, has been very busy and one of the reasons for that is a sharp increase in housing starts in the rural part of the county.

In the 12 months from Aug. 16, 2016, to Aug. 15, 2017, the county issued permits for construction of 50 new homes and the placement of two modular dwellings, Reid said. That compares with 43 permits for single-family dwellings in the 12 months of Aug. 15, 2014, to Aug. 15, 2015, and Aug. 16, 2015, to Aug. 15, 2016, he said.

“We have had a percentage increase of very nearly 21 percent in the last year,” he said. “We have another three single-family homes in plan review now, so we’ll have several more getting ready to go soon.”

Reid said a stronger economy probably contributed to the increase in new rural housing starts, but he suspects the completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway also played a part.

“I think anytime you improve transportation infrastructure, you encourage development,” he said. “You can look at U.S. history and see that concept validated. Without doing a detailed analysis, my sense is there is a relationship between the SLT and increased development south of Lawrence.”

Another sign the rural housing development spike will continue is the planned Hunter Crossing development 3 miles south of the Kansas Highway 10 intersection with Haskell Avenue. The development, which is still in the planning process, would add 11 homes, Reid said.

The city of Eudora, Eudora Township and the Eudora Township Library Board are addressing an oversight, which dates to 2011 when Eudora transitioned from a city of the third class to a city of the second class, said Eudora City Manager Barack Matite. With that change, the township lost authority to tax within the Eudora city limits, but a 4-mill annual township levy continued to be assessed in the city for the Eudora Township Library.

The 2011 change in city government didn’t release the city from its commitment to support the maintenance and operation of the library. That commitment of both the city and the township was established in the late 1960s through the language of a bond issue referendum that city and township voters approved to build the library. That language also dictated the five-member library board would have three city residents and two township residents. Matite said the city, library board and township were working on an interlocal agreement that maintains the spirit of the financial and representational guidelines spelled out in the referendum’s language and used for the past four decades.

The interlocal agreement is just one of several steps needed to completely resolve the matter, Matite said. The end solution would probably require the involvement of Eudora’s representatives in the Kansas Legislature, who would be called on to create the statutory means to address all future considerations, Matite said. The end result would simplify any bond referendum needed to fund the new library building, he said. There is an ongoing fundraising campaign to raise money for the new library.

Jo Ann Arnold conceded Wednesday that her goal of opening her Wooden Spoke Restaurant at its new Baldwin City location of 309 Ames St. by this weekend wasn’t going to happen. She’s now hoping everything will be ready for a Tuesday opening.

When it does open, customers will find no changes from the menu offered at the Wooden Spoke’s old site at 203 First St., Arnold said. It will continue to offer lunches and dinners of traditional American fare and a full bar. The popular prime rib dinners will still be the special on Friday and Saturday evenings, she said.

The Wooden Spoke has been at its former site for 16 years, with Arnold leasing the site for her restaurant the last nine years. She is relocating because she owns the former convenience store at 309 Ames St. but has not had a tenant in the building the past two years, Arnold said.

The new location isn’t as spacious and will seat 35 fewer customers. Arnold said she is considering extending Friday and Saturday dinner hours to make up for the loss of seating.

For her part, Arnold welcomes the smaller setting.

“I’m looking to downsize,” she said. “I’m ready to move into a smaller building.”

The Lumberyard Arts Center will have its Third Friday Art Walk from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Arts Center, 718 High St. The featured event will be community karaoke. The “Just Pencil” photorealism of Baldwin City artist Melinda Hipple will continue to be featured in the Lumberyard gallery.


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