Douglas County Commission approves plans to expand aviation manufacturing plant near Vinland
photo by: Douglas County
County leaders have approved plans for the expansion of an airplane parts manufacturing facility near Vinland.
As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission voted unanimously to approve a site plan for a new 22,000-square-foot building for McFarlane Aviation on approximately 40 acres at 680 East 1700 Road. The facility has made other additions over the years, and Commissioner Patrick Kelly said he was happy to see its growth continue.
“This is a great business out there that is really doing some amazing things, and it’s neat to see them grow year after year,” Kelly said.
A staff planning report states that McFarlane Aviation manufactures airplane parts and equipment and is classified as light manufacturing and production. The property is zoned for light industrial use, and the proposed site plan is compliant with zoning regulations and other policies or standards, according to the report.
The property is not within Lawrence’s urban growth area, the planning area of any incorporated city or the boundaries of any adopted long-range plan; however, it is adjacent to the unincorporated town of Vinland. Planner Mary Miller said that under zoning regulations that were revised last year, the county sent out public notice to property owners within a half mile of the site and posted a notice at the property.
Miller said that several Vinland property owners provided comments and concerns about the existing facility and proposed site plan, which were forwarded to the applicant. Miller said the applicant then held a virtual meeting with neighbors to discuss their concerns and made updates to the site plan that neighbors indicated were acceptable.
Planning staff recommended approving the site plan, but with specific conditions to address the concerns raised by Vinland residents and to comply with standards. Those conditions include a landscaping buffer where the property borders Vinland, shading on certain windows, that certain exterior lights should only be operated when needed, and that construction activity shall only occur between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Previously, Miller said that the planning office did not provide notifications to nearby property owners to solicit comments before site plans were to go to the commission for review. Though the public could previously provide comments to the commission ahead of the review, Kelly said he thought the notification process had led to better civic engagement and was a better practice for the county.
“I think this is a great example of how notification to neighbors was really needed and it seems to be working so far,” Kelly said.