Planning commission approves rezoning request for affordable housing development in west Lawrence

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The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission on Monday approved a request to rezone land near Lawrence Montessori School to allow for affordable housing development.

The request, from the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, will rezone about 6 acres of land on both sides of the Montessori school to allow for fourplexes and eightplexes. The Lawrence City Commission will have the final say on the request.

The land parcels are next to the school at 5015 Legends Drive and 1311 Research Park Drive in west Lawrence.

The properties have been zoned as Industrial Business Park since 2006, and the properties have been vacant since they were annexed into the city, Planner Sandy Day told commissioners.

The properties marked RM 12 and RM 15 on this map are the two approved for rezoning for affordable housing.

If the project ultimately comes to fruition, the complexes will be intended for seniors and families, Shannon Oury, executive director of LDCHA, told the planning commission. The housing would be permanently affordable.

Planning commissioners heard from about a dozen members of the public, most opposed to the rezoning request and any future affordable housing project that could be built on the land as a result of the rezoning request.

Some neighbors who spoke said they had concerns about the project surrounding the Montessori school, but the landowner told the planning commission that he and his wife had purchased the land to prevent it from becoming industrial development or something else that would not be in line with the school. He said he thought people should consider whether it was better to have residential properties rather than an industrial use down the road.

The rezoning is just the first step for the project, and design plans and other steps will require further approvals and public hearings.

Commissioners approved both rezoning requests on a vote of 8-2, with Jane Eldredge and Pedro Borroto opposed.

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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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