Lawrence City Commission votes down Dutch Bros’ rezoning plan

On the podium, Derek Rogers, Lawrence Parks and Recreation director, provides an update on behalf of Lawrence Unmistakable Identity team during a City Commission meeting at City Hall in Lawrence, Kansas on June 7, 2022. By Abdullah Al-Awhad.

Lawrence City Commission voted 3-2 against Dutch Bros’ rezoning plan after neighborhood residents pushed against the project in a meeting on Tuesday. 

Dutch Bros, an Oregon-based drive-thru coffee chain, planned to combine two parking lots on 803 and 809 W. 22nd Terrace St. The plan aimed to create room for the coffee shop’s construction on 23rd Street between Louisiana and Alabama streets. Lawrence Planning and City Development Office had recommended the project’s approval to City Commission. 

At the meeting, Mitchell Reynolds, Cole Valley Partners development manager, said the Dutch Bros’ drive-thru would have a buffer wall to block noise and emissions. The drive-thru wouldn’t have a speaker box.

“This rezoning will complement the deeper commercial sector from Louisiana street along West 23rd,” Reynolds said.

Rezoning projects require buffer zones between residential and commercial areas, Sandra Day of the Planning and City Development Office said at the meeting. 

The smaller the buffer zone is, the more landscaping the city requires, Day said. When a buffer zone is not feasible, a buffer wall may be acceptable.

The City Commission meeting room’s seats were almost full of neighborhood residents, who came to comment on the rezoning plan. Among the neighbors was Kelie Mclver, who owns the house next to the parking lot.

McIver said a 6-foot buffer wall can’t block noise and emissions. 

“Cole Valley cannot give us an example of how they have been able to integrate into a residential area similar to this,” McIver said. 

City Commissioner Bart Littlejohn and Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen said they would have voted in favor of the plan if a compromise was possible. 

Dutch Bros currently has three locations in Kansas, in Kansas City, Shawnee and Wichita.

By Abdullah Al-Awhad

Other business in City Commission

  • Mayor Courtney Shipley proclaimed June 2022 as Pride Month.
  • Dr. Pavika Saripalli, a physician at Watkins Health Services, and Sara Prem, Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition president, advocated for proposed anti-tobacco policies in public comments.
  • Several attendees said they were concerned about the City Commission’s strategic plan in public comments.
  • Derek Rogers, Lawrence Parks and Recreation director, provided an update on behalf of Lawrence Unmistakable Identity team to the City Commission.

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