Strawman Plan Groups
Growth management and corridor growth management
Downtown and retail/commercial growth
Infill development, neighborhood plans and planning
Public transportation; bicycle and pedestrian movement
Capital improvement plans and planning; facility siting and utility location; facility use
Resource preservation and conservation
Marketing and business attraction
Existing businesses and new businesses
New or expanded partnerships
Weak links in education and training systems
Citizen awareness and education
Land use regulation; design guidelines and technical assistance
Tax and finance incentives
Air and rail transportation
Wednesday's community forum on a blueprint for the Horizon 2020 strategic plan likely will attract diverse opinions on future growth and development.
By Nancy Price
Should development be allowed to occur anywhere in Douglas County or be limited to urban areas and traffic corridors?
Should new commercial growth be limited to protect the viability of downtown Lawrence?
Should neighborhood associations have the right to review plans and projects prior to final approval by the Lawrence City Commission?
The Strawman Plan, the initial blueprint for the Horizon 2020 strategic plan, is rife with questions such as these.
Some residents who worked on Horizon 2020 task groups earlier this year say the Strawman Plan doesn't appear close to defusing some of the potential land mines in land use issues.
One land use task group member termed the Strawman Plan "a mixed report."
"There's no overall direction for it at all," said Beverley Worster, a member of the Douglas County Preservation Alliance. "It's very revealing of the controversy and inconsistencies that came out of the task groups."
But the Strawman Plan is not supposed to have all the answers, at least not right away, consultant Graham Toft said.
The plan will be shaped and revised in coming months, beginning with this week's community forum, he said.
The forum is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Lawrence High School cafeteria.
Horizon 2020 will replace Plan '95 and the Douglas County Guide plan. It will manage growth and development in nine areas: land use, economic development, education, environment, governmental cooperation, historic resources, retail development, transportation and neighborhoods. Horizon 2020's economic development planners are meeting separately.
The Strawman Plan outlines four proposed goals: disciplined growth in population, number of households and housing units and employment; diversity of job types and wage levels; pursuit of quality in local businesses, government and the work force; and community self-sufficiency, or the ability to produce a consistent standard of living through balanced growth.
The plan also outlines four strategies to achieve the goals: pursue a balanced land use pattern, aggressively pursue business growth, forge strong public-private partnerships and internationalize the county.
Not surprisingly, the land-use strategy is the heftiest part of the plan -- and the most controversial.
In a section on rural development, the plan notes that "some form of intervention might be inevitable, whether it is in the form of regulation or program."
That's not what the land-use task group recommended, said Jo Barnes, a Lawrence real estate broker and task group member.
"Rural people don't want intervention or further regulation," she said. "Unregulated runaway growth can't happen. There are too many regulations you'd have to wipe out. What we have said is, there are enough (regulations) on the books, and if they're properly enforced, we really don't need to keep adding regulations."
The Strawman Plan also proposes targeting developed areas and corridors, such as Kansas Highway10, for future development.
That too was rejected by the land use task group, Barnes said.
"They've suggested we direct physical growth toward the communities, the incorporated areas of Douglas County," she said. "We did not go for that. That did not pass scrutiny. The majority view was that growth should be allowed to happen, but have it managed appropriately and not confine it to urban areas."
Joyce Wolf, executive director of the Kansas Land Trust and a land-use task group member, said she was encouraged to see the Strawman Plan includes a proposal for using conservation easements.
"One of the things we were saying was to consider using conservation easements as a means of protecting habitat and protecting open space where it's appropriate to do that," she said.
The fourth Strawman strategy, internationalizing the county, is not likely to prompt as strong a reaction as land development, but Toft said he hopes to stimulate a discussion.
"My job as a consultant is to nag and reflect opinions," he said. "Communities that are looking ahead to be international will be the winners.
"The first three (strategies) were generated from the citizen process, but strategy four is a consultant's suggestion. I'm not sure myself if it should be elevated to the status of a strategy."