A request to rezone 20 acres at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Wakarusa Drive from agriculture to general business, which has been on the shelf for more than a year, has been put on hold again.
After discussing the matter for an hour and a half Wednesday, the two Douglas County commissioners present said it was apparent they weren't going to reach a consensus. Commissioner Nancy Hiebert was ill and couldn't attend the meeting.
Commissioners Mike Amyx and Louie McElhaney did agree to continue the matter until Dec. 13.
The two commissioners found themselves in the same position as the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, which deadlocked on the issue at its October meeting, 4-4-1. The planners' vote left the decision completely up to county commissioners.
SEVERAL planning commissioners said at the October meeting that they didn't oppose commercial zoning at the northwest corner of the U.S. 40-Wakarusa intersection. However, they said the applicant should simultaneously apply for annexation.
Edward G. Collister Jr., who represented the applicants Wednesday, contended that the property shouldn't have to be annexed by the city until the owners are ready to develop.
Amyx said he didn't have a problem with granting the rezoning request for 11 platted acres, as recommended by the city-county planning staff, with one condition. Amyx said that if the property is annexed, it should receive the appropriate city zoning.
MCELHANEY SAID he didn't think it was appropriate for the county commission to vote for the rezoning, because Collister acknowledged the property owners have no plans to develop until the land is annexed by the city.
However, he said he didn't want to vote against the rezoning, either, and have the county on record against the proposal. McElhaney suggested that commissioners table the matter indefinitely and let the Lawrence City Commission handle it when the property owners are ready to be annexed.
In other business, commissioners:
Voted 2-0 to deny an amended request to rezone from agriculture to general business two acres about 1 miles east of Baldwin, on the north side of U.S. Highway 56 and east of Palmyra Township Road 206. Tom L. Story had sought rezoning for two acres on the southwest corner of the property, where his body shop is located. Story needed the rezoning so his body shop, now in violation of current zoning, could continue operating.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, which voted unanimously to recommend denial of the rezoning, said last month that it would encourage the county zoning inspector to work with Story to find an alternative site.
VOTED 2-0 to defer indefinitely a request by Dennis Oakley, property owner of record, to rezone from agriculture to general business about 1.52 acres on the southwest corner of U.S. 40 and Township Road 1100E. Like the rezoning request east of Baldwin, Oakley needs the rezoning because his body shop, in operation since 1972, is in violation of current zoning.
In October, planners voted 7-1-1 to deny the rezoning but encouraged Oakley to take his case to the county Board of Zoning Appeals. Oakley asked county commissioners to defer the matter while he pursues that option.
Voted 2-0 to approve rezoning from light to heavy industrial district 22.44 acres east of Haskell Avenue and south of 31st Street. Penny's Concrete plans to build a concrete plant at the site. The rezoning was recommended by planners, who noted that the plant conforms with the Douglas County Guide Plan and the South Lawrence Trafficway Corridor Land Use Plan.
VOTED 2-0 to approve a home rule resolution establishing a seven-member board of trustees to run the county's Valleyview Care Home. The resolution, which first came before commissioners Nov. 15, was slightly revised after review by several health professionals in the community. County Administrator Chris McKenzie said the main change was reducing the length of trustees' terms from four years to three years. The terms will be staggered at the beginning, with three members appointed to three-year terms, two members appointed to two-year terms and two members to one-year terms. Thereafter, all appointments will be for three years. No one will be allowed to serve more than six years on the board.
The revised resolution also changes the effective date, from Jan. 1 to whenever the commission approves a final resolution. McKenzie said the goal is still to have the board of trustees in place by Jan. 1, but the change gives commissioners and staff some flexibility in case they can't get all of the administrative details taken care of in time.
Amyx said he still plans to have a list of candidates for the board of trustees ready for the commission's consideration by Dec. 15.