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2001-06-15
Lawrence, KS. Big Box Plan Defeated

A group called "Citizens for a Sane Sixth and Wakarusa" helped bury a 26 acre big box development this week in Lawrence, Kansas. Area residents told the Lawrence City Commission they expected some commercial development in their neighborhood, "but we expected smaller development, and certainly not something three times larger" than the city's Horizon 2020 land use plan called for, explained Citizens member Jeff Moran. A developer called Thke Peridian Group asked the city for a rezoning, annexation and preliminary site plan approval. The Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners recommended the project, they said, because they claimed it didn't meet opposition from neighbors. The planning commission voted in April to recommend the rezoning over the advice of planning staff. But the Citizen's group pointed out that notification was mailed only to residents living within 200 feet of the land. Moran argued that a series of big-box stores was not the best neighbor for the Free State High School, and that the City should not sell open park land to the developer, who would worsen traffic flow in the area. He said Commissioners "seem to be working from the misconception that supporting growth automatically means supporting whatever the big out-of-town developers propose, no matter how gigantic, ugly, and inappropriate. " The City's own comprehensive plan calls for the land to be used for small community retail, and not a regional superstore. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, on June 13th the Lawrence city commissioners voted to reject rezoning for the proposed "big-box" development. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce testified in favor of the proposal, even though Downtown Lawrence Inc, a group of small businesses, said the proposal, if approved, would exceed the entire size of the existing downtown, and would hurt downtown. The City planner reiterated to city commissioners that the proposal, in conjunction with existing and planned development at the Sixth and Wakarusa Development, would bring all commercial development at the intersection to 626,000 square feet. That, he said, far exceeds the maximum 450,000 square feet that Horizon 2020 dictated for a community shopping center at the intersection. The hearing lasted more than three-hours. The Kansas Department of Transportation warned that traffic in the area was already growing more quickly than the roads capacity could handle. "The demand is being allowed to outstrip the supply, and failure of the arterial corridor will be the result," state officials wrote. Mayor Mike Rundle seconded the motion to deny the project. A 4-1 "supermajority" vote was required to reject the rezoning, because it came to the commission with the positive recommendation of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Under rezoning rules, the issue is now dead unless the developer submits it in substantially revised form.

What you can do: For more information on this successful battle against sprawl in Lawrence, KS, contact Jeff Moran at: moranjie@yahoo.com.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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