Kurt von Achen

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

In a joint meeting of the Eudora City Planning Commission and the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission Monday night in Lawrence, both commissions recommended that the Douglas County Commission, reject a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Kaw Valley Companies for a proposed sand pit north of Eudora near the Kaw River.

The Eudora City Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend to reject the permit and the Lawrence/Douglas County Commission voted 7-1 against it.

The joint meeting, a continuation of a February meeting where the issue was tabled pending further research, lasted three hours while both Commissions heard testimony from the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission staff, representatives of both the City of Eudora and Kaw Valley Companies and finally, several citizens from the area.

Both sides again presented their arguments for and against the issue. Neither side offered much new information from the February meeting. This time around, the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission seemed more receptive to the reasons and thoughts of the Eudora Planning Commission in recommending the rejection.

The City of Eudora restated that the close proximity to the cities well system was a major cause of concern. If the wells would be contaminated by surface water, the city would then have to radically change it’s water treatment facility and processes, at the cost of millions of dollars.

Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commissioner Stan Rasmussen radically changed his stance from the February meeting. “I’m very conflicted about this application” Rasmussen said. “Sand is needed and it needs to be taken from outside the river not in it.” He later added that while he was neither swayed by the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission staff’s reasoning for recommending rejection, he also said the application “doesn’t meet all the criteria necessary to recommend approval”.

Many other commissioners agreed with Rasmussen and also stated fears of the impact this project could cause to the nearby Eudora City wells, the jetty system used to help the flow of the Kaw River and the bridge leading across the river.  The only Commissioner to vote to recommend the permit was Chairman Blase.

A large group of citizens also voiced great opposition to proposed operation.  Scott Jackson, a local resident stated during the public comment section “Why are we still talking about this?  No one wants it other than those who are being paid” (referring to the representatives of Kaw Valley Companies).

Kurt Von Achen, Chairman of the Eudora City Planning Commission simply stated after the meeting that he was “pleased at the outcome.”

Lois Hamilton, a land owner next to the proposed site and vocal opponent was happy to see the recommendation of rejection. “I don’t think it (talking about the sand pit) does any good for the nearby land owners or the City. I’m not against progress, but I’ve owned this land since 1967 and I know what a flood does.”

Phil Struble, a representative of Kaw Valley Companies, stated “Obviously we’re disappointed in the decision. What I heard in there tonight was not a resounding ‘No’ though. There will be additional work to be done to prepare for the County Commission.”

The next step in this battle is for the Douglas County Commission to either approve or deny the CUP permit. That meeting will take place likely somewhere around the end of May or beginning of June.

“I will be back for the County Commission meeting” Hamilton emphatically stated.

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Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Signs are on the thoughts of many at City Hall lately. The story began in February when Ad Trend, a company that specializes in billboards, came to the Planning Commission to seek approval for a billboard on the HP Pelzer property near K-10.  This billboard was met with concerns by the Planning Commission as to size and types of advertisements that will be on the billboard.

Because of the concerns of the Planning Commission, the City Council instituted a 90-day moratorium on signs in the city so the Planning Commission could look at current sign regulations and possibly revise those regulations.  This moratorium, will expire on May 28.

The Planning Commission at their March meeting, requested some specific information from Ad Trend as to size of advertisements and fonts that would be used on the billboards.  As of April 1, according to Planning Commission Chairman Kurt Von Achen, Ad Trend had not provided this information to the Planning Commission.

Recently, Ad Trend Inc, has filed a mandamus writ against the City of Eudora. A mandamus writ is not a lawsuit involving monetary damages, it is simply a suit to force the city to act.

City Administrator John Harrenstein, on the advice of legal counsel, would not comment on the lawsuit.

While the writ has been filed, the moratorium continues and the Planning Commission will continue to review the regulations at the beginning of May.  Any recommendations they make, will then be sent on City Council for approval.

The Planning Commission at the April meeting, talked publicly how they are giving serious consideration to eliminating the possibility any billboards along the K-10 corridor inside the city limits.  This would match a similar policy that KODT has for the K-10 corridor outside any city limits along the corridor.

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The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the Eudora Planning Commission held a joint meeting well into the night Wednesday to discuss a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a sand pit to be located on the grounds of the old Eudora Country Club located near the Kaw River.

This CUP permit is the first step in a long regulatory process to allow Kaw Valley Companies of Kansas City, KS to operate the sand pit for a 20 year period.

During nearly three hours of testimony, the staff of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, the City of Eudora, and representatives of Kaw Valley Companies, presented their arguments why the permit should be issued or denied.  Both the staff of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the City of Eudora recommended against approving the permit based on the fact that the pit will be located close enough to the Eudora City Water well system there could be a potential conflict.  Also brought into the discussion were possible ecological effects to the Kaw River and the outcome of those effects on the bridge that crosses the river into Leavenworth County.

Phil Struble of Landplan Engineering represented Kaw Valley Companies. In his presentation, he disputed those claims stating that reports commissioned by Kaw Valley Companies, stated there would not be an impact from the pit on the Eudora Well System.

Ned Marks, a geologist with Terrane Resources Co. was hired by the City of Eudora to review and verify the report that Kaw Valley Companies had completed. Marks stated that while he believed that the report was a “valid attempt to estimate the potential impact”, the numbers quoted and findings were inconclusive.

At the end of all the testimony, the Eudora Planning Commission unanimously to recommended to deny the CUP. Lawrence-Douglas County Commissioners saw the issue differently than the Eudora Planning Commission.  Several of the Lawrence- Douglas County Commissioners, although not completely in favor of giving overwhelming support to approving the CUP, saw no reason to deny it.  A minority of voices on the Lawrence-Douglas County Commission were against approving it. Enough indecisiveness and questions about the impact to both the river and the well system led the Commission to make no decision and hold off for at least 60 days on a decision.  Both Kaw Valley and the City of Eudora were asked to bring more information to the Commission in the hopes of reaching a decision in the near future.

“I think we are going to sit back and review the specific recommendations that the Douglas County Planning Commission has” said John Harrenstein, Eudora City Administrator.  “I’m very happy with the City of Eudora’s Planning Commission recommendation for denial.  The Information that we have, indicates there could be detrimental effects to the water wells in Eudora. Any risks to the water wells in Eudora, risks the water supply for the 6200 citizens of the city.”

Several Eudora officials were caught off guard by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission’s decision.

Eudora Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen, in reaction to the delay by his Lawrence counterparts said “It’s process. We’re going through it.” He said “We did our job and I think we did right for the City of Eudora, but we’re the little boys on the block.”

Harrenstein said “I’m surprised by the decision to defer, based on the overwhelming opposition from not only the citizens but our Planning Commission.”

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Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Eudora could soon see it’s first ever billboard. This billboard, if approved, would be located near K-10 on the HP Pelzer property in the Intech Business Park.

The billboard would be double sided so it could be read in both directions on K-10 and it would measure 10′ wide by ’30 feet high. The billboard will be owned by Ad Trend, Inc. of Kansas City Missouri. (Editor Note: The billboard in the picture above is not representative of this size.)

You don’t see many billboards along K-10 between the Kansas City Metro area and Lawrence due to restrictions placed by KDOT which controls the right of way along side the road and the K-10 Highway Overlay District. The only way billboards can be placed along side K-10 is on private property inside city limits and the billboards must meet various city code restrictions.

In Eudora, the restrictions are rather numerous.  As Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen described “This is probably the only spot in the city of Eudora where a billboard can be placed.”

Many Planning Commission members are concerned about this billboard. The exact placement of the billboard is still being looked into as to ensure that it meets the rigorous restrictions in place.  There are a couple of requirements Ad Trend has yet to meet before the billboard can be erected. Those include a public access easement and lettering and graphics that must be approved prior to placing advertisements on the billboard.

Planning Commissioners are also concerned about what type of advertisements may appear on the board. Ad Trend stated at the last Planning Commission meeting that they don’t accept advertising from advertisers such as tobacco, “adult” products and establishments, or controversial organizations.

The only landowner in the immediate area of this board is Air Filter Plus which is located next door to the property. While the billboard does not extend into the property of Air Filter Plus, it is in rather close proximity.  Representatives of Air Filter Plus were in attendance at the meeting to voice their unhappiness with the proposed signage.

Planning Commission members, while expressing distaste for the billboard, may have no legal way to prevent this board. “We may have no choice but to approve this” von Achen stated. “The company has done all their research and followed all the rules that are on the books.”

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At the Eudora Planning Commission meeting on December 1, Dr. Patrick Jankowski announced that he will be moving to outside the city limits after first of the year and therefore would be no longer eligible to serve on the Eudora Planning Commission.

Jankowski will resign his position effective February 1, 2011.

Kurt von Achen, Chairman of the Planning Commission, had nothing but praise for Jankowski’s service on the Commission. “He’s been great. He’s such a hard worker and always prepared. I really appreciated all he has done for the Commission.”

“I’m gonna miss him, but at the same time, I’m very happy for him. I know he’s wanted to move out towards the country for a while now.” von Achen said.

It will now be up to Mayor Scott Hopson to appoint a replacement for Jankowski. “I have no names yet to fill the vacancy.” Hopson said. “I’m going to be looking for someone and I want to listen to the Planning Commission members and particularly  CHhirman von Achen’s recommendations.”

The Eudora City Council will need to approve any candidate selected by Hopson.

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