The Lawrence City Commission is considering a private development proposal for the annexation of 144 acres of prime farm land just 1/2 mile north of my farm, Pinwheel Farm, just north of North Lawrence. This proposed development (warehouses) would leave my farm nearly completely surrounded by the City, putting Pinwheel Farm at extreme risk of future annexation and therefore substantial curtailment of the land's rights to be operated as a farm business. The annexation of the Airport Business Park is still pending with the City Commission, after several postponements. It is not too late for you and your friends to make a significant contribution to preserving this land, at the cost of only a postage stamp (or mouse click) and a little time. If we fail to stop this project in its tracks at this point, it will be much harder to prevent additional prime farm ground from being swallowed up by expanding industrial development in this neighborhood.
This is a situation where people with far-reaching visions of future food security actually stand a good chance of prevailing against short-sighted, profit-minded developers. We've pulled together a group with diverse professional backgrounds, expertise, and experience to back up their values. Citizens for Responsible Planning (CRP) has done a great job of rallying local support for preserving this farm ground. I'm attaching their position paper, which I'm endorsing. There are many and diverse good reasons for the City Commission to vote against the proposed annexation, and the neighboring landowners organized their protest early enough that a "supermajority" vote (4-1 instead of 3-2) is required to approve the annexation.
Those of us concerned about food security here in Lawrence realize that our food security is deeply entwined with that of the entire KC region. If our very best soil is paved over, the entire region loses the fruits of that soil...forever. Therefore, we hope that everyone, anywhere, concerned with preservation of farmland and food security, will join our effort to preserve YOUR salad bowl, and take the time to voice your concerns to our City Commissioners. The Commissioners need to know that they are making a regional, not a local, decision in this matter. When we neighbors oppose something like this, it is all too easy to be brushed off as NIMBYs. You can appeal to our City Commission from a very different perspective. If the City Commission realizes that good local food production can bring in $$$ from Kansas City, they will have to re-evaluate their dismissal of farming as a low-value land use.
Based on my actual crop and sales records this fall, if this land proposed for annexation were all managed as I did my fall market garden in the same soil just 1/2 mile away, nearly $7 MILLION dollars (retail) worth of organic/sustainably grown salad greens could be grown in a single year, employing nearly 250 individuals full-time for six months. That's something people through the region should be able to sink their teeth into. For the rest of their lives, not just for a few years until all our best land is paved over for warehouses.
Thanks in advance for your active support in this critical matter of regional food security.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. WRITE A LETTER TO THE LAWRENCE CITY COMMISSION FOR THE PUBLIC RECORD! The sooner the better...but be sure it reaches City Hall by 4:00 p.m., Wed. January 16, 2008. Address letters to Mayor Sue Hack, "Re: Airport Business Park", "for distribution to City and County Commissioners and City Staff", and either e-mail to the City Manager Executive Secretary, Bobby Walthall: email@example.com OR send by U.S. Mail to:
Mayor Sue Hack
C/O Bobby Walthall, City Manager Executive Secretary
6 E. 6th Street, Lawrence,
2. ATTEND THE LAWRENCE CITY COMMISSION MEETING ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2008, 6:30, AT CITY HALL. (After so many postponements, check to be sure it hasn't been postponed again before driving over here!) While we're hopeful that we have the vote of more than one city commissioner, WE CANNOT ASSUME THE VOTE WILL GO OUR WAY! It is extremely important for CRP and other interested citizens to have a HUGE TURNOUT at City Hall on Tuesday, January 22! Our presence at the meeting and our voice in the general public will make a difference!
3. SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH ANYONE YOU CAN THINK OF WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT FOOD SECURITY AND PRESERVATION OF FARMLAND, and willing to back up their concern with these simple actions.
4. WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD--THE SOONER, THE BETTER. Let the citizens of Lawrence know that the decisions we make here affect our neighbors to the east.