Debate over rural development policy will go public when the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission meets this week.
Planning advocates hope a proposal to tighten up development regulations in rural Douglas County will help end haphazard growth outside the Lawrence city limits.
During a hearing at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will take public comment on proposed amendments to subdivision regulations that govern development in areas most likely to be annexed into the city.
Linda Finger, the city-county zoning director, said the amendments would be an ``incremental step'' toward implementing uniform planning regulations in unincorporated Douglas County.
``The concept behind it is primarily good planning, and it gets us closer to having planning in the county,'' she said.
At their next meeting Nov. 15, planners will receive public input on a proposal to enlarge the Primary Urban Growth Area around Lawrence. The southern boundary of that area, in which the strictest planning regulations would apply, would be moved south from the Wakarusa River to Wells Overlook Road.
Planners will make a recommendation on the proposed amendments and forward the issue to the Douglas County and Lawrence city commissions, which both must approve the changes.
The amended development regulations that planners will discuss Wednesday would no longer exempt properties containing at least five acres from planning requirements that apply to smaller lots. Platting would be required anytime the owner of an agricultural property in the PUGA changed its use to residential, commercial or industrial.
The five-acre exemption would still exist in other areas of unincorporated Douglas County.
Within the PUGA, the amendments also would require sidewalks and dedicated rights of way in platted subdivisions, ban new septic systems and impose standards for water lines. City officials say the new restrictions would help make sure that streets and utilities in the enlarged PUGA would be compatible with the city's infrastructure after annexation.