WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Lawrence City Commission to consider adopting new comprehensive plan

City leaders will soon consider adopting the new Lawrence-Douglas County comprehensive plan that will help shape the area’s growth for the next 20 years. As part of its consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting Plan 2040 on second reading. Commissioners already gave initial approval to the plan, which has a new growth policy that prioritizes infill ...

Swell of donations helps find housing for some, but homeless shelter still expects to force about 25 people to leave Friday

While a recent swell of community support has helped find housing for some people who will soon be forced to leave the local homeless shelter, shelter leaders still expect at least 25 people will have no place to sleep come Friday night. On Friday afternoon, the Lawrence Community Shelter, which also provides guests three daily meals, will reduce its capacity by about half, from 125 to 65 people. The shelter ...

Planning Commission votes to recommend allowing two houses per lot, but with some restrictions

Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners have voted in favor of a proposal that would allow two houses to be built on one lot if both homes are affordable, but they’re recommending the city limit where and under what requirements the so-called density bonus would be allowed. At its meeting Wednesday, the Planning Commission voted 7-2 to recommend the proposal, which would be the city’s first land use ...

Animal shelter begins program to trap and neuter feral cat colonies, seeks volunteers and donations to help

The Lawrence Humane Society has begun its new program to manage feral cat populations and is seeking volunteers to help with the effort. The Community Cat Program uses the "trap-neuter-vaccinate-release," or TNVR method, in which feral cats are caught, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and then returned to the area where they were collected. Kirk Putman, the Humane Society's interim director, said that the ...

Broken pump causing frequent flooding of North Lawrence underpass

For the fourth time in the past three months, heavy rain has caused the underpass leading to North Lawrence to flood, requiring traffic to be directed along a meandering route through the adjoining residential neighborhood. Around 11 a.m. Monday, city crews closed the North Lawrence underpass, near the intersection of Locust and North Second streets, because of flooding and posted detour signs. It was about ...

Donations, supplies and volunteers sought to assist dozens of homeless people who must soon leave Lawrence's shelter

As dozens of people are forced to leave the local homeless shelter, social service agencies are asking the community for help of all kinds — including housing, camping gear and nonperishable food — to assist those who will soon be left with no other options. On Aug. 30, the Lawrence Community Shelter, which also provides guests three daily meals, will reduce its capacity from 125 to 65 people. The Bert ...

Motorist who was shot after attacking Lawrence police officer receives probation

A motorist who was shot by police after a traffic stop turned violent has received 12 months of probation for battering an officer. Lawrence resident Akira S. Lewis pleaded no contest Thursday in Douglas County District Court to battery against a law enforcement officer. Lewis was sentenced to 12 months of probation, required to take anger management classes, and must pay court costs and other fees, among ...

Construction of $18.5M police headquarters to begin soon; city leaders to consider adding $1.3M to expand project

Construction on the city’s new $18.5 million police headquarters will begin next month, though the project could still add more than $1 million to its budget if city leaders decide to expand it. As currently proposed, the first phase of the police headquarters project will allow the police department to move all its services — including its patrol, evidence and records divisions — out of the downtown ...

Lawrence City Commission gives initial approval to new comprehensive plan, including controversial new growth policy

City leaders gave initial approval Tuesday to a new growth plan that would prioritize infill development and add requirements for developers who want to expand the city’s boundaries. As part of its regular meeting, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously in favor of the new comprehensive plan, Plan 2040, which lays out policies that will shape how the city grows for the next 20 years. Plan 2040 ...

Survey: Lawrence homeless count increases by 35% in one year

When Jade Vargas was evicted from her apartment and went to the local homeless shelter for a place to stay, she said she was turned away. So instead, she’s been sleeping in the stairwell of a parking garage in downtown Lawrence. “I’ve been trying every day to get in and every day they just tell me, no, there’s no room, they aren’t taking anybody new,” Vargas said. Vargas is one of a growing ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider new comprehensive plan, including controversial new growth policy

City leaders will soon consider a new growth plan that prioritizes infill development and that some say will make Lawrence housing more expensive. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider the new comprehensive plan, Plan 2040, which lays out policies that will shape how the city grows for the next 20 years. Plan 2040 prioritizes development within the city’s boundaries and ...

Lawrence City Commission chooses firefighters union's contract proposal over city's plan

The Lawrence City Commission has unanimously chosen to adopt the firefighters union's proposal for an employee contract instead of the plan proposed by the city. The union’s proposed contract maintains longevity pay for all firefighters, removes a cap on sick pay, and maintains the level of workers’ compensation in the current contract. Both proposals included 2.5%-5% merit increases, a 5% increase to ...

Lawrence City Commission to make final decision on firefighters union employment contract

After mediated negotiations failed to resolve disagreements between the city and the firefighters union regarding a new employment contract, the Lawrence City Commission will now have the final say. Representatives of the city and the union, the International Association of Firefighters Local 1596, began meeting with a mediator from the United States Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Aug. 1, but ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Lawrence City Commission finalizes 2020 budget that holds tax rate flat, increases utility and parking rates

Lawrence city commissioners have finalized the city’s 2020 budget, which holds the property tax rate flat and increases utility rates, parking rates and commissioner pay. Commissioners gave preliminary approval on the budget last week, and they made no further changes at their meeting on Tuesday. However, before the budget was finalized, Commissioner Matthew Herbert did propose that the commission postpone ...

Lawrence City Commission expresses support for plastic and paper bag fee or ban; more research will be done

City leaders indicated Tuesday that they are interested in pursuing a proposal to charge people for disposable grocery and shopping bags in an effort to reduce waste and help the environment. As part of a study session, the Lawrence City Commission discussed the Sustainability Advisory Board’s recommendation that the city develop an ordinance that would have grocery stores and other retailers charge a 16-cent ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider finalizing 2020 budget that holds tax rate flat, increases utility and parking rates

Lawrence city commissioners will soon finalize the city’s 2020 budget, which as proposed would hold the property tax rate flat and increase utility rates, parking rates and commissioner pay. The commission will finalize the budget and the ordinances required to increase the rates as part of its meeting Tuesday. The budget includes a $235.4 million operating budget and about $66 million in capital improvement ...

Lawrence police identify 2-year-old found dead in car; death investigation underway

Updated at 4 p.m. Monday Lawrence police have identified the child who was found dead inside a parked car Sunday afternoon as DéVonté Lashawn Turner. Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. at a news conference on Monday said the 2-year-old Lawrence boy at the time was in the care of family members who were not his parents, but Burns would not be more specific. He said a death investigation was underway and that it ...

Lawrence City Commission to discuss proposal to charge for disposable plastic and paper bags

City leaders will soon discuss a proposal to charge people for disposable grocery and shopping bags in an effort to reduce waste. As part of its study session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will discuss the Sustainability Advisory Board’s recommendation that the city develop an ordinance that would charge a 16-cent fee per bag upon checkout for both single-use plastic and paper bags, but would exempt ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Audit of city finances resulted in more than $60M in changes; auditors found Lawrence lacked proper financial controls

The city of Lawrence’s finances have been red-flagged by auditors after they had to adjust more than $60 million worth of transactions in the city’s 2018 financial records. Among the most serious of findings: Auditors determined that for 12 months, the city was unable to reconcile its various cash accounts. Financial experts said that is analogous to not being able to balance your checkbook for an entire ...

Lawrence homeless shelter announces plan to cut guest count by half, citing funding shortfall

The Lawrence Community Shelter plans to cut the number of guests it serves by nearly half next month, the shelter board’s president announced in a statement Friday. The decision to reduce the shelter’s capacity from 125 to 65 by Sept. 1 ultimately comes down to a lack of funding, shelter board President Thea Perry told the Journal-World. But she also said that the shelter, anticipating it would get more ...