City commissioners will discuss an outline for the Northwest Development Plan during their weekly meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
Lawrence city commissioners say development in northwest Lawrence needs a plan, and planning staffers say they need some help getting the job done.
Tuesday night, Planning Director Linda Finger will ask commissioners to approve hiring a private urban planner to cover the "footwork" needed to compile a Northwest Development Plan.
Expected cost: less than $1,000.
"We're pretty busy," she said this morning. "We need this background work done."
The plan will help guide development of homes, duplexes, apartments, offices and shopping areas in the 13.5 square miles north of Sixth Street and west of the current city limits, near Wakarusa Drive.
Plans for Lawrence's second high school northwest of the intersection of Sixth and Wakarusa have stepped up the need for such a plan, Finger said. Officials broke ground at the 62-acre school site Thursday, and commissioners are scheduled to consider rezoning the property Tuesday night.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said the plan likely would take eight to nine months to complete.
"This is not going to stop the high school," he said. "That's what triggered the whole thing."
Finger said the plan's first responsibility would be determining sites for new roads. Preliminary plans for the school site have shown Overland Drive extending from Folks Road to an extended Wakarusa Drive, but that's about all.
"Your roads are your lifelines -- they are the blood vessels running through the body of the city," she said. "You need to know where your arteries are going to go."
Landowners already are talking about where developments should go.
Price Banks, an attorney representing owners of 320 acres including the high school site, said his clients planned to use land south of the school for offices, south and west of the school for commercial areas and east of the school for duplexes.
Rezoning applications for that land have been delayed, as city officials discuss the Northwest Development Plan. Banks fears a moratorium on growth until the plan is completed.
"They should hire a consultant that can move quickly and move ahead in a relatively short time period," said Banks, a former planning director.