Archive for Thursday, February 4, 1993

COUNTY REJECTS RURAL DEVELOPMENT ITEMS

February 4, 1993

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Bettie-Lou Metsker does not live within what planners call Primary Urban Growth Areas areas where cities might soon intrude and planners would like to regulate.

The Metsker 240-acre hog farm, passed down since 1860 through four generations, is about nine miles south of Lawrence's southern most tip.

Even so, Metsker took interest in four proposed changes to rural development.

"You give them a foot, they take a mile," she warned.

The Douglas County Commission voted 2-1 Wednesday to reject four rural development items that caused ripples throughout the county.

Voices such as Metsker's at four public discussions in the last few weeks made a difference.

"If they don't want it, why should we be aggressive about it," Commission Chairman Louie McElhaney said after the meeting.

The most controversial of the items would have eliminated a platting exemption on land five acres or larger within Primary Urban Growth Areas.

McElhaney and Commissioner Jim Chappell voted to reject the items.

COMMISSIONER Mark Buhler, who previously served on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, hoped to make a statement with his vote.

Buhler said he wanted to remind property owners that the world would change and the county eventually would have to respond.

He called for more input from the cities of Baldwin, Eudora and Lecompton about how much growth they realistically expect. Then, Buhler argued, the county would have a clearer idea about how to ensure logical growth.

"I just think we need to plan from the inside out," he said.

Chappell invited rural residents to take part in Horizon 2020, a process that will generate planning strategies into the 21st century.

"I don't want you to say five years from now that you never got the opportunity to serve in that process because you're getting an invitation right here," he told the audience, which filled the public benches.

Metsker said she feared losing a voice in rural development.

"Our complaint is we're losing our rights to say anything about our property," she said.

Ed Erazmus, a retired KU professor of linguistics, owns 40 acres off County Road 438 and bordering the Kansas Turnpike about two miles northwest of Lawrence. His land is within the Primary Urban Growth Area.

"I think it's right that they should plan for the future," he said. "But I think I'll be dead before they get out that far."

He said removing the five-acre exemption potentially would compromise his ability to subdivide and sell his land if he ever chose to.

THE FOUR changes rejected by commissioners would have:

Eliminated the five-acre exemption for land within the Primary Urban Growth Areas.

Deleted the classification "Suburban Growth Area" from subdivision regulations.

Revised the definition of "Rural Area" to exclude the Primary Urban Growth Area.

Allowed single-family dwellings in agricultural zoning districts.

Commissioners will have to review at least two resolutions approved Jan. 20 that will be directly affected by Wednesday's decision. The review is set for next Wednesday's meeting.

IN OTHER action Wednesday, commissioners unanimously:

Endorsed cost-cutting measures requested by project director Pam Weigand for the juvenile detention center. After all cuts, the center will be about $128,000 over budget, according to an estimate from architects.

Deferred a discussion of county wells until Feb. 17.

Accepted bids for rock used in road construction.

Allowed staff to advertise for a rock bucket for a track hoe.

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