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Lawrence leaders seek meeting with tribe over land

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- City officials are seeking a meeting with members of the Delaware Tribe to learn more about the tribe's plans to develop some prime property in the Lawrence area.

The tribe bought about 90 acres of farmland in north Lawrence along the Kansas Turnpike this summer. City commissioners told City Manager David Corliss to seek a meeting with tribal officials in Oklahoma within the next two to three weeks, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/17Xvdsl ).

"I'm very concerned about the environmental impact development could have on that property," City Commissioner Bob Schumm said. "It is a delicate piece of property. When it rains, I've seen that area look like a great lake out there."

The property is just outside the Lawrence city limits, but any development is likely to affect city property because of stormwater drainage issues. Tribal officials have confirmed they are working to have the land put into federal trust, which would make the property sovereign Indian territory and not subject to the city or county's regulations on development.

While the tribe has not released specific plans for the property, it has said it hopes to provide housing, child care and medical care for American Indians in the region.

City commissioners want Mayor Mike Dever, City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer and one Douglas County commissioner to go to Oklahoma to meet privately with tribal leaders.

"We need to start building bridges, and we don't want to do anything to isolate people here," Farmer said.

City and county officials might have some future input on the property because tribal officials could seek to negotiate for some services from local governments, such as water, sewer, police and fire protection.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com