Lawrence City Commission denies zoning request from Dutch Bros Coffee

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Article updated at 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, June 8:

After hearing from more than a dozen neighbors opposed to to a request that would have allowed a Dutch Bros Coffee location on 23rd Street, the Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday voted 3-2 against the plan.


Developers requested a change to zoning to allow the Oregon-based chain to locate in the 800 block of West 23rd Street. A double-lane drive-thru with room for dozens of cars would have come too close for many neighbors’ comfort.

The proposed site was just west of the Pizza Hut location on 23rd Street, between Alabama and Louisiana Streets.

Those who spoke on behalf of the company said they would put up a barrier wall to lower noise and limit light from headlights. In addition to the tax revenue and jobs the chain wold have brought, they also said the company would donate to help address local food insecurity and to benefit children’s organizations, and pledged that the company would take care of the site for decades to come.

However, many neighbors from nearby West 22nd Terrace spoke out against the plan, raising concerns about the potential for pollution from that many cars sitting in a drive-thru so close to their homes and citing concerns that their property values would decrease. Many said they felt that the site would encroach on their properties.

After about two hours of public comment and discussion, Commissioners Amber Sellers and Brad Finkeldei voted in favor of the plan; Mayor Courtney Shipley, Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen and Commissioner Bart Littlejohn voted against it. The proposal would have required four affirmative votes to pass because there was a protest petition filed against it.

Commissioners struggled with the decision, saying it seemed the developers had done a good job trying to mitigate the neighborhood’s concerns. Littlejohn and Larsen said it was a good project, but they couldn’t look beyond the issues for the nearby residences. 

The pin on the map below indicates the approximate location where developers wanted to build the coffee shop. Some neighbors encouraged the Dutch Bros representatives to find a different site in town for the business.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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