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City being asked to repeal ordinance banning concealed carry of knives; incentives package for $75M apartment project faces first vote
Well, this is awkward. No one has shown up for the revolution.
If you remember a few weeks ago, Lawrence city commissioners were told that a pair of local laws prohibiting the concealed carrying of knives would no longer be valid because a new state law has been passed that specifically allows people to carry concealed knives. The city's legal staff had recommended the city remove the local laws from the books, since they no longer would be enforceable.
But city commissioners balked at that idea. They asked for staff to research the issue more, and they also said leaving the laws on the books may be a good way to protest the actions of the state Legislature. They suggested the protest would be even more powerful if other cities joined in the action and left their laws on the books too.
Well, it looks like we're the only people still listening to Bob Dylan these days. We're the only ones who know how to stick it to the man. On second thought, scratch that one. We are talking about knives after all. Regardless, you get the point. Geez, that's not any better.
Anyway, after a bit of research, the city's legal staff has determined that no other city in the state plans to join Lawrence's little protest movement. The League of Kansas Municipalities "advises that it knows of no other city — except Lawrence — considering protesting the legislation by leaving the conflicting ordinances on the books," Maria Kaminska, an assistant city attorney wrote in a memo. "While the city may leave its conflicting laws on the books, the league advises that it is not recommend and that the laws should be repealed."
But Kaminska said her research does indicate that the city can pass a local ordinance that prohibits a few more weapons than originally envisioned. Knives such as switchblades, dirks and daggers can't be prohibited due to the state law. Residents beginning July 1 will be able to carry those hidden on their person. Unlike the concealed firearms law, no special license is required to carry a knife concealed. But Kaminska said the city can prohibit other weapons such as bludgeons, sand clubs, metal knuckles, throwing stars, a billy, blackjacks, tear gas and smoke bombs.
Also prohibited are slungshots, which of course is the weapon of choice of Durwin, David's brother who failed spelling class. No, a slungshot is not a slingshot. According to the slungshot expert Mr. Google, it is a "maritime tool consisting of a weight, or 'shot,' affixed to the end of a long cord often by being wound into the center of a knot called a 'Monkey's fist.'"
So, put your slungshot back in the closet. I probably will leave my Rocky Balboa monkey in the closet as well, out of an abundance of caution. (He has quite a pair of monkey's fists.)
Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will be asked once again to repeal the existing ordinances relating to the carrying of knives and to pass this new ordinance that does prohibit the weapons mentioned above.
In other news and notes from around town:
• As we have been telling you, city officials have a decision to make on what type of financial incentives they want to provide for apartment development in the future. The decision-making process begins tomorrow as the city's Public Incentives Review Committee will consider a tax rebate request for a $75 million apartment/retail development across the street from KU's Memorial Stadium.
A new city report evaluating the request has been completed, and it indicates city officials have some thinking to do. The report from the city's economic development coordinator found the current request for a 95 percent, 12-year property tax rebate through the Neighborhood Revitalization Act does not meet the city's current guidelines for incentives. The request also would include a sales tax exemption on construction materials purchased for the project.
The city has a guideline that for every dollar of financial incentive provided, the city should receive $1.25 in future benefits. The city report found that the project would provide only $1.09 in future benefits to the city and only $1.02 to the county.
The report estimated that a lesser incentive would meet the city's guidelines, but just barely. An 85 percent, 10-year property tax rebate would produce $1.26 in future benefits for the city and $1.38 for the county.
In either case the total value of the incentives packages is large. With the 95 percent, 12-year package, the project would have $6.4 million in property taxes and sales taxes rebated back to it. Under the lesser proposal, the amount would drop to $5.6 million.
But members of the development company — Chicago-based HERE Kansas, LLC — note that the project really will be unique. In addition to the 237 apartment units, it will have about 15,000 square feet of retail space on its lower levels. The project would replace a deteriorating apartment complex — Berkeley Flats at 1101 Indiana St. The project also would include the area's first automated parking garage, which uses a system of lifts and tracks to allow cars to be parked without the assistance of a motorist. The system is being touted as a way to provide parking solutions in areas short on space, plus as a way to cut down on carbon emissions.
Given all that, the development group is not backing away from its original request of a 95 percent, 12-year tax abatement.
"We think it is important to note in closing that we only requested exactly what we needed to make the project work," James Heffernan, a principal with the company wrote in a letter to the city. "Given the tremendous private sector costs involved, every dollar in our budget is absolutely critical to making this investment work."
The Public Incentives Review Committee, which meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, will make a recommendation on the incentives package. From there, the city commission, county commission and the school board all must agree to participate in the tax rebate program. The city commission has the final vote on the sales tax rebate portion of the request.
• The Public Incentives Review Committee also will hear a financial incentives request for a project to convert an old East Lawrence home and barn into a residential/office project.
As previously reported, a group led by the Lawrence-based architecture firm Hernly Associates is seeking a property tax rebate for the property at 1106 Rhode Island St.
The group seeks to do about $900,000 worth of work to rehabilitate the historically significant house and convert the property's barn into office space. But developers say they need an 85 percent, 10-year property tax rebate to make the project feasible. It also is seeking a waiver of about $24,000 in development and utility fees that normally would be charged to the project.
A report from City Hall shows the incentive request for this project does meet the city's guidelines. The project is expected to produce $1.42 in future benefits to the city for every $1 worth of incentive provided and $3.87 in future benefits to the county.
Hernly's group also is asking the city to sell the development group the property at a price less than what the city paid for it. The city used the eminent domain process to purchase the property, after the property had badly deteriorated under private ownership. The city paid $114,500 for the property. Hernly is proposing to pay the city $90,000 for the property, largely because of its dilapidated condition, he said.