Lawrence city commissioners approve next step for New Boston Crossing development

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The Lawrence City Commission approved on a 4-1 vote Tuesday a comprehensive plan amendment that brings a development south of Iowa Street and K-10 one step closer to fruition.

The plan for New Boston Crossings includes mixed-use development on about 177 acres of land to the southeast of the Kansas Highway 10 interchange at Iowa Street.

The plan includes single-family homes, townhouses or rowhouses, and multidwelling residential units. It also includes an entertainment district in the middle and some green space and a large pond toward the southeast. The city commission in March approved annexation of the land into city limits.

The comprehensive plan amendment, which modifies the city’s Plan 2040, is to “revise the land use map, change the commercial references from Auto-Related Commercial uses to commercial uses that align with Plan 2040, and revise residential and open space uses within the area between Highway 59/S. Iowa Street extended on the west, E. 1350 Road/Michigan Street extended south of Kansas Highway 10, and north of the Wakarusa River,” the agenda states.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in November considered and ultimately approved the comprehensive plan amendment on a 5-4 vote and a preliminary plat for the project on an 8-1 vote.

City commissioners were only asked to vote on the comprehensive plan amendment Tuesday.

They heard from people on both sides of the issue — some in favor of the project, for its potential to bring new housing to the area, and some who opposed it, mainly for environmental concerns as much of the land is on the floodplain.

Phil Struble of Landplan Engineering, the developer of the project, said in response to a question from Commissioner Amber Sellers that he has met with representatives who participate in affordable housing to discuss what role they could see playing in the project.

“I think there’s going to be an opportunity in the very near future to have a really in-depth discussion with you all about that,” Struble told the commission. “And that’s — I think that’s probably all I want to say right now. We are already having that thought and that conversation.”

Mayor Bart Littlejohn, Vice Mayor Mike Dever and Commissioners Brad Finkeldei and Sellers voted in favor of the plan amendment; Commissioner Lisa Larsen opposed it.


Finkeldei said as he recalled, the thought behind Plan 2040 for that land was that it would be good for auto dealerships, but those ended up locating farther north and the land is no longer needed for that purpose. He said now, the city is looking for more mixed-use development.

“For me, this is a good comprehensive plan amendment that gives us housing, that gives us mixed use and accomplishes the goals and what we’ve been looking for and so I’m excited to support it,” he said.

Larsen said she thinks it’s a great project, but the wrong location. She said she didn’t think building up the floodplain in order to build on it was good long-term planning, and she couldn’t support it.

Numerous rezoning requests associated with the project are still pending. Planning commissioners last month recommended approval of some requests and denial of several others. City commissioners will likely consider those requests in the future.

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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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