Some kind of greenbelt should surround the south Lawrence trafficway, and landowners along the road's corridor should be aware of that probability, Lawrence city commissioners generally agreed Tuesday.
The commission, at its weekly meeting, received a proposed resolution that lays out the city and county's intent to create a 150-foot setback along both sides of the 14.1-mile trafficway. In a "straw poll" of commissioners, all but David Penny supported the idea of a greenspace setback requirement. But before officially adopting the measure, commissioners decided they wanted to hear what the Douglas County Commission thinks of the proposal.
"I think we're trying to ensure that we have the flexibility . . . to solve future problems and to make sure we don't re-create 23rd Street," Commissioner Mike Rundle said in supporting the greenspace building setbacks.
Rundle and Commissioner Bob Schumm pointed out that the city-county interlocal agreement on the trafficway states that the policy of the two boards is to require a 150-foot setback along both sides of the trafficway to be maintained as open space.
BRIAN KUBOTA, a local landscape architect, told commissioners that he didn't disagree with the intent of establishing a greenbelt along the trafficway. But he warned that a flat 150-foot-wide requirement may not be feasible, practical or necessary, and it may not accomplish all that the commission intends.
"I can tell you that the people I've talked to see no problem with a setback. The question is how much of a setback? . . . I'd like to see it wider in certain areas; I'd like to see it being narrower in certain areas," Kubota said.
He told commissioners that some issues, such as topography of the land, are important considerations. For example, he said that if a portion of the trafficway's elevation is well below the adjacent land, there isn't much use in requiring 150 feet of setback in that area.
"It's not the quantity, it's the quality of the landscaped space," Kubota said.
COMMISSIONERS noted that it is difficult to prepare for a plan suggested by Kubota because the precise route of the trafficway is not yet known.
The resolution, commissioners said, does not establish the setback but puts the public on notice that there is a willingness on the city's part to require the greenspace. It also puts developers who are planning projects in the vicinity of the trafficway on notice of the intent to require setbacks.
The setback plan wasn't embraced by all the commissioners, however.
"We're essentially taking the property for use in a non-uniform manner in the community without notification or compensation," Penny said.
THE SETBACKS combined with the required right of way necessary for the trafficway, Penny noted, are approximately equal to the length of two football fields. That's wider than the right of way on interstate highways, Penny said. He added that if the public wants something that wide, the public should purchase the land.
The joint resolution requires approval of both the city and county commissions. No date has been set for the county commission to consider the proposal, but city planner Diane Mullens said the issue likely will go to the county before the end of the year.