Douglas County leaders to consider incentives package for downtown affordable housing project for people 55 and older

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

For the second time in recent weeks, Douglas County commissioners will consider participating in a tax incentives measure for the establishment of a Neighborhood Revitalization Area in downtown Lawrence.

At Wednesday’s County Commission meeting, commissioners will hear a proposal for local developer Tony Krsnich’s New Hampshire Street Lofts project. If approved, the incentives sought by Krsnich will yield a 15-year, 95% property tax rebate and a sales tax exemption for construction materials.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Area plan already cleared its first major hurdle after the Lawrence City Commission unanimously approved the request at its Sept. 5 meeting.

As the Journal-World has reported, the project, which would be at the southern end of downtown at 1000 New Hampshire St., adds approximately 54,000 square feet of residential space split into 48 units of rent-controlled affordable housing for residents 55 and older.

An overview of the project in the meeting agenda states that it aligns with the city’s economic development policy and downtown master plan and supports the city’s goal of making 1,500 affordable housing units available by 2028.

Last month, the County Commission voted 2-1 to approve another Neighborhood Revitalization Area request — a 15-year, 65% rebate requested by developer Doug Compton. That plan calls for the former Borders bookstore site at Seventh and New Hampshire streets to be redeveloped into a corporate headquarters for Compton’s First Management and First Construction.

In other business, the commission will:

• Consider approving a conditional use permit for equipment storage at 1805 East 200 Road, southwest of Lecompton. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission previously recommended that the request be approved, but commissioners raised concerns after identifying potential issues with the proposal. As the Journal-World previously reported, the property owners are seeking to use the property to store mowing equipment for a landscaping business, Right Way Solutions. A previous report from zoning staff stated that the proposed use would generate more traffic near the property.

• Hear a work session presentation from Zoning and Codes staff covering updated compliance regulations for unincorporated home businesses. The current regulations, according to a memo from County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, were established to “serve small scale home businesses with low impacts.” The regulations were last updated in 2000.

• Consider approving the county’s “Lived Experience” compensation policy. According to a memo from Assistant County Administrator Jill Jolicoeur, the county administrator’s office has reviewed different approaches to “compensating individuals with lived experiences to participate in the work of county boards, committees and work groups that focus on issues of safety, criminal justice, food systems, mental health and homelessness.” The compensation structure would pay qualifying individuals $25 per meeting for short-term engagement and $50 per meeting for serving on a board. The IRS would require anyone receiving more than $599 per year from the county to report it on their taxes, and county spokesperson Karrey Britt told the Journal-World that the county was “recommending that our policy be in alignment with IRS regulations, and not pay more than $599 so that the lived experience person doesn’t become an employee with a tax burden.”

The commission’s work session begins at 4 p.m. followed by the regular business meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts streets. A Zoom link can be found on the county’s website,


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