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Archive for Friday, April 12, 1996

LONG-RANGE PLAN READY AFTER FOUR-YEAR PROCESS

April 12, 1996

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The finishing touches are being put on Horizon 2020, the city's long-range planning document.

The creation process has taken a long time -- more than four years.

But local officials are just about ready to put Horizon 2020, the city's long-range planning document, into their tool box to use as a guide in making land use decisions well into the next century.

Over the last month, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission has been tinkering and tweaking the plan, getting last-minute comments from the public at meetings around the county.

And the planning commission was expected this month to finally accept the long-range plan. It will replace the city's former long-range plan, Plan '95, and the Douglas County Guide Plan.

The plan generally presents what the community wants the city and the county to look like in the future and generally maps out where certain land uses are appropriate.

"I like to refer to it as 'it's less a picture of the future, than it is a guide in traveling to the future,'" said Phil Bradley, who chairs the planning commission.

"My personal example, is it's a little like a Scout handbook," Bradley said.

"It doesn't tell you you have to go camping, and it doesn't tell you where to go camp and when to camp," he said. "It just says when you go camping, here are the guidelines to protect you, to protect the park and to protect the other citizens in the community. It tells you how to camp safely."

Bradley said officials making plans for the community will turn to Horizon 2020, see the policies there but will still have to interpret them and make their own decisions.

"It's been an extremely citizen-driven, community-oriented, public-participatory, friendly process," Bradley said.

More than 1,500 people have participated. That includes all the people who have come to meetings, people who have sat on task forces and all who have written letters expressing their views, he said.

"There have been hundreds of meetings and tens of thousands of volunteer hours," he said. "One of the most positive things to come out of this was the process. The fact that so many people came to meetings has helped to improve our community."

The whole process was overseen by a 15-member steering committee consisting of five planning commissioners, five city appointees and five county appointees.

"I feel our community, our county, is blessed, and I am constantly amazed at the effort and quality of people who are willing to work on activities such as this," Bradley said.

Jean Milstead, a planning commissioner, chaired the steering committee and has seen the plan through its various stages.

"Jean Milstead deserves a special salute and the steering committee members for all of the time they have spent on this," he said.

Milstead has said the plan is designed to be flexible and reviewed in depth, if not annually then at least every three years.

The latest activities on the plan were public meetings held March 14 in Baldwin, March 21 in Lecompton and April 3 in the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The planning commission also scheduled a meeting Monday to review the public comment and formally review the plan.

"Once we approve it, it goes directly to the city commission and the county commission," Bradley said.

"They get to discuss, deliberate, and discuss changes," he said.

Bradley said the city and county officials have been giving their opinions throughout the process.

"It would be unrealistic not to expect them to have input," he said. "I'm confident with their help we can get a document in place as soon as possible."

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