Members of the public no longer have the option to pull most items from the Lawrence City Commission’s consent agenda. There’s one item on Tuesday’s agenda that can be pulled.
The consent agenda is a long list of items that are generally approved in one motion unless a commissioner or member of the public asks to pull something for discussion. Under a change commissioners approved last week, community members may only pull certain items that are designated as “quasi-judicial.”
Deputy City Attorney Randy Larkin said last week that this distinction typically includes items where the commission is asked to apply city ordinance to a request with a specific set of facts — similar to the way judges interpret the law to decide legal arguments.
The sole item that members of the public may request to pull from the consent agenda item is a special use permit for the Children’s Community Center to operate as a child care center at 346 Maine St. The item is specifically noted under a new header. The Planning Commission in June voted unanimously to recommend in favor of the permit with no conditions of approval.
Community members may still contact Lawrence city commissioners to request that they pull a consent agenda item for discussion, Larkin said. Commissioners will have discretion over whether to pull an item and allow public comment.
Elsewhere on Tuesday’s 21-item consent agenda is an agreement between the city and the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab for technical assistance.
The Harvard Alternative 911 Emergency Response Cohort aims to triage emergency calls that can go to unarmed responders. The GPL “supports jurisdictions testing an array of innovative approaches to alternative response,” according to the agenda item.
“This program is an outstanding opportunity for the City of Lawrence and Douglas County to work together to improve outcomes for members of our community in crisis,” the agenda item states.
The Lawrence Police Department is seeking a letter of support from the mayor and commission to enter the agreement at no cost to the city. Officials with Douglas County, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ and Douglas County Emergency Communications have already signed letters of support.
Work on the program will begin in the next few weeks, according to the agenda item.
The Bid and Purchase section of the consent agenda includes more than $1.55 million in various expenses. These items typically have already been generally included in the city budget, but the commission will give the final OK to a specific purchase, or a change to a contract to allow a larger expense than what they previously approved.
Items include a spare rotating assembly for the centrifuges at the Wakarusa River Wastewater Treatment Plant ($113,668) and analytical instrumentation for the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant ($458,456), for example. Both were in the 2023 wastewater treatment operational budget.
Another Bid and Purchase item is an engineering services agreement for the Lawrence Loop – Seventh Street to Constant Park project ($268,562). The agenda item asks commissioners to approve the agreement as well as establish a steering committee to advise and provide feedback to the consultant on the project. The steering committee would include representatives of the East Lawrence, Pinkney Neighborhood, North Lawrence and Old West Lawrence neighborhood associations, several city advisory boards, Friends of Lawrence Area Trails (FLAT) and more. See the full agenda item at this link.
Commissioners will also consider approving the city’s latest claims report, which had not been published to the website as of Sunday afternoon.
The commission will also receive two requests for tax breaks and consider referring them to the Public Incentives Review Committee for a recommendation.
One of the projects, the New Hampshire Street Lofts at 1000 New Hampshire St., is already on the PIRC’s agenda for Wednesday. The other is a request connected to the Turnhalle Building project at 900 Rhode Island St.
These agenda items are only to receive the requests and decide whether they should go to the PIRC for review; they would come back to the commission for further action before anything is finalized.
Members of the public can email public comment to email@example.com until noon the day of the meeting.
Commissioners will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/lawrenceksvideo. Commissioners hear public comment in person as well as via Zoom; register for the Zoom meeting at this link.
Here’s the full meeting agenda, including the consent agenda, work session, two regular agenda items and more (click here to view it on the city’s website):20230809-Lawrence-City-Commission-agenda