The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission delayed a vote to change zoning laws after commissioners could not agree on the best way to force developers to leave open space between streets and new development in western Lawrence.
The change in zoning law would affect development along West Sixth Street (U.S. Highway 40), Douglas County Road 13 and Wakarusa Drive.
Commissioners and the city planning staff are interested in creating more open space between the streets and buildings. City staff has suggested a change in the text amendment to the joint city-county subdivision regulations establishing a 75-foot setback in the specified area.
Although most commissioners indicated they favored mandatory "green space" between streets and buildings in the area, they had problems with the way the setback would be legislated in the zoning laws.
ONE commissioner, Mary Prewitt, said she would perfer a more straightforward change in the zoning regulations.
A number of people interested in the change attended the meeting. City officials had sent out letters soliciting comment on the issue, and received letters both for and against the idea, said Price Banks, the city's planning director.
Public comment was limited during Wednesday's meeting after some commissioners said the matter had not been advertised for a public hearing.
Commissioners finally agreed to have city staff work with Prewitt, who is an attorney, to study other ways to make zoning law changes to create the setback. The planning commission will initiate any changes in setback guidelines for the area during their March meeting, and a public hearing would be scheduled in April.
AFTER THE meeting, Banks said the setback or green space requirement would address aesthetic concerns.
"Our big concern is our entrances to the city," he said. "Along U.S. 40, we want a pleasant entrance."
Banks said opposition to the proposal comes from some developers who prefer to use as much land as possible in their developments.
Another matter involving the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Wakarusa Drive also received consideration Wednesday night.
Commissioners delayed a decision to reconsider their Oct. 25, 1989, vote on a request to rezone a 20-acre tract that includes the Rock Chalk Ranch from agricultural to general business, which is the county's commercial zoning designation.
PLANNERS had deadlocked with a 4-4-1 vote on this request at the earlier meeting, sending it to the Douglas County Commission without a recommendation. County commissioners deferred consideration of the rezoning request until the land in question was annexed into the city, effectively leaving the matter in the city's hands.
However, county commissioners found that zoning regulations would not allow them to act on a rezoning proposal when it came without a recommendation from the planning commission.
So on Wednesday, the planning commission voted unanimously to change the zoning regulations in order to allow county commissioners to act in such instances in the future. Banks said the city has a similar zoning law allowing city commissioners to act when no recommendation comes from the planning commission.
IN OTHER action, planners:
Unanimously approved a text amendment to city zoning regulations clarifying that paved surfaces to city standards are required for parking areas and driveways. The change also would clarify that 5-inch full depth asphalt concrete is an acceptable standard.
Unanimously approved an amendment to the "lesser change table" allowing the planning commission to adopt more restictive zoning in their review of rezoning requests.
Voted 7-1-1, with Commissioner Mark Buhler voting against and Commissioner Mary Anne Chambers abstaining, to thank the Shawnee County Planning Commisson for seeking input on a planned 195-acre rock quarry operation in Shawnee County that will abut the Douglas County line south of Stull Road.
The planning commission cannot affect Shawnee County's decision on rezoning of the land, which is expected to come up later this month. Planning commissioners Wednesday expressed reservations about endorsing the project since they had little information about it. Banks did tell commissioners that Douglas County residents who live near the planned quarry operation were invited to a public hearing before the Shawnee County Planning Commission.
On the consent agenda, commissioners:
Approved the final plat of Breezy Summit Acres, a 21.4-acre, seven-lot development north of Coal Creek Estates on the northeast corner of Douglas County road 1055 and Coal Creek Road. The plat was submitted by Fred G. Rogers, land surveyor for David A. and Vicci L. Jones, property owners of record.
Approved the final plat of NGHA Addition, a replat of Lots 2, 3 and 4, Block 1, Prairie Meadows No. 16, a three-lot subdivision plat that contains 1.17 acres. This property is on the north side of 31st Street, west of the First Free Methodist Church. It was submitted by Walter Ward with Evans Bierly Hutchison & Associates for the property owners of record, Dan Biles, secretary-treasurer for NGHA Lawrence Inc.; Jill Baker; Larry H. and Sue Midyett; Timothy B. and Deborah L. Green; and Tony K. and Christiana D. Barritt.
Approved the final plat of Prestwick Place, a replat of Lot 1, Hidden Valley Northwest, containing six residential lots and 5.09 acres at the southeast corner of 15th Street and Inverness Drive. It was submitted by Landplan Engineering for the property owner of record, Robert G. Billings, managing partner for Alvamar Northwest Partnership.