Lawrence City Commission approves rezoning requests for New Boston Crossing project

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Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved eight rezoning requests connected to a project that aims to expand Lawrence southeast of the Iowa Street and Kansas Highway 10 interchange. 


Commissioners heard from more than two dozen people who appeared to be of voting age as well as more than a dozen elementary students, all opposed to the New Boston Crossing project. Just one person spoke in favor of it. 

Plans for the mixed-use development on about 177 acres south of town include 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.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times A portion of the land included in plans for the New Boston Crossing development, southeast of the Iowa Street interchange with Kansas Highway 10, is pictured March 4, 2024. This photo looks north toward southern Lawrence.
New Boston Crossing, a proposed development southeast of K-10 and Iowa Street, would include a mixture of housing, lodging, entertainment, office space, open space and more. (Landplan Engineering image from planning commission meeting agenda modified to fit this space)

The primary concern community members voiced about the project is that it would involve filling in the floodplain and building on top of the fill.

Many folks — including a professor from Charleston College in South Carolina who spoke via Zoom — said this created risk for the homes that would be built there as well as for taxpayers who might have to foot the bill if a disastrous flood destroys buildings. 

Community members have raised other environmental concerns over the course of numerous meetings regarding various aspects of the project.

Courtney King, Peoria and Miami, is a lab and field research assistant at Haskell Indian Nations University who is also leading a project to clean the headstones of children buried at the Haskell Cemetery.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Courtney King speaks to the Lawrence City Commission.

She had yet to hear about a ground-penetrating radar study to determine whether any children are buried on the site, “which is truly sickening,” she said. 

Commissioner Amber Sellers asked for further information about that issue, saying that it could impact her vote. Developer Phil Struble of Landplan Engineering said they had contracted with a group to do an archaeological study, but it was not yet complete and he could not recall the name of the group. 

City commissioners approved all eight rezoning requests for different portions of the project.


The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission voted on each of the items during their Jan. 24 meeting. They voted 7-1 to recommend approval of two of the rezoning items but voted 4-4 on the other six, “which is a failure to recommend approval,” according to the meeting agenda.

On those six tie items, at least four members of the Lawrence City Commission had to vote in favor in order to approve them. 

Commissioner Lisa Larsen, who attended the meeting via Zoom, echoed a concern that she had raised previously: she is not in favor of building on the floodplain. 

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Limestone Community School students look toward the Lawrence City Commission, March 5, 2024.

Mayor Bart Littlejohn, Vice Mayor Mike Dever and Commissioner Brad Finkeldei shared similar reasons for approving the requests. They mentioned the city’s need for more housing of all varieties. 

In addition, they said the approval of the rezoning requests is just the next step in the process. The project will still face FEMA and other potential barriers if there are legitimate concerns about flooding, they said. 

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Sam Raugewitz (left) and Rev. Shelley Page (center) of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lawrence react to discussion of a development proposed south of town during the Lawrence City Commission meeting, March 5, 2024. At right is Thad Holcombe.

Struble estimated that an additional study related to flooding would likely be completed in June or July. 

Ultimately, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve two of the eight requests. The other votes were 4-1 in favor of approval, with Larsen opposed. 

City commissioners last month approved a comprehensive plan amendment related to the project on a 4-1 vote. The amendment ultimately was denied by the Douglas County commissioners, but their denial did not prevent the project as a whole from proceeding.

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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.

August Rudisell (he/him) has been a photographer and videographer for The Lawrence Times since March 2021. He is a former dispatcher, he avidly consumes and creates local news, and he would love to meet your dog when out and about at a community event.

See more of his work for the Times here. He can be reached at arudisell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.

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