Planners are scheduled to hear public comment Nov. 15 on a proposal to expand the primary urban growth area outside Lawrence.
Rural property owners, who overflowed a public hearing Wednesday night in city hall, dispelled any notion that they would accept new development regulations without a fight.
The occasion was the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission's consideration of a proposal to tighten restrictions on development outside the Lawrence city limits.
``We're going to be parties to a lawsuit if you continue with it,'' said John Gage, whose family owns property east of Lawrence.
Gage and several other property owners said the proposed changes to subdivision regulations and the county's guide plan would bar them from putting residential development on their acreages.
However, others said the regulations would encourage development in unincorporated areas and destroy the rural character of the county.
Planning commissioners ensured a protracted debate over the issue by deferring any decision until their next meeting on Nov. 15. At that time, planners are scheduled to hear public comment on a proposal to expand the primary urban growth area outside Lawrence. That's where city officials say annexations are most likely to occur.
Under the proposed regulations, properties of at least five acres within the PUGA would no longer be exempted from planning requirements that apply to smaller lots. The regulations would require sidewalks and dedicated rights of way in platted subdivisions, ban new septic systems and impose standards for water lines.
Lawrence city officials say these changes would insure that streets and utilities would be compatible with the city's infrastructure in areas ripe for annexation. They have agreed to let rural water districts, which buy water treatment services from the city, sell more water meters if stricter controls are placed on suburban growth.
Douglas County Commissioner Mark Buhler, who helped negotiate the proposal, said he heard a clear message from more than a dozen rural property owners who spoke at the hearing.
``It's apparent to me that the idea that there be regulations at all is unnerving,'' he said.
However, Buhler said he hoped resistance would disappear as the public discussion continued and people would begin to understand that the regulations wouldn't destroy property rights.