In 1990, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission began discussing the need to develop a new comprehensive land use plan for the City of Lawrence and the unincorporated areas of Douglas County. Developing this land use plan is the responsibility of the Planning Commission; final approval of the plan rests with the Lawrence City Commission and Douglas County Commission.
The Horizon 2020 Steering Committee, a 15 member broad based group appointed by the Planning Commission, City Commission and County Commission, has overseen the comprehensive planning process for the last three and a half years. The following excerpts from the Horizon 2020 draft plan provide highlights of the key features and goals recommended in the document. The Planning Commission intends to hold public hearings on the draft plan in March and April at various locations throughout the County. Community participation in the public hearings is encouraged.
Copies of the draft plan will be available after at the following locations: Lawrence Public Library (reference desk); Douglas County Courthouse (county clerk's office); Lawrence City Hall (planning Ooffice); Baldwin City Public Library and City Hall; Eudora Public Library and City Hall; Lecompton City Hall; Watson Library (reference desk); Pro-Print, CopyCo and Kinko's copy centers in Lawrence.
A. OVERALL DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS
A Land Use Plan provides a guide for future land development decisions within the community. It identifies which areas should be utilized for residential, commercial, industrial, open space and public land use activities. The Plan also describes interrelationships between various land use areas, and the types of projects and improvements desirable within each area.
Key features of the recommended Plan are listed below:
- The plan supports infill development and redevelopment which provides a range of residential, commercial, office, industrial and public uses within these parcels, consistent and compatible with the established land use pattern in surrounding areas.
- The plan encompasses goals and policies which are representative of the community's desires for the future. It recognizes the numerous plans and projects that are either underway or pending and anticipates that the plan will be reviewed when significant land use changes occur within the community.
- The plan promotes development in the urban growth area through an adopted annexation policy which anticipates well-planned development of fringe areas.
- The plan defines the urbanizing areas of the County and directs development to these areas.
- The plan encourages the development of neighborhoods in a range of densities to provide a sense of community and to complement and preserve natural features in the area.
- The plan proposes the progression of land uses to help achieve a transition in land use and intensity levels, and to help avoid major or abrupt changes in density.
- The plan recommends the protection and preservation of the extensive floodplains and riparian ways throughout the planning area. These resources often are a constraint to urban development.
- The plan encourages the identification, protection and adaptive reuse of the wide diversity of historic buildings, structures, sites and archeological sites that can be found in Lawrence and Douglas County. Considering historic preservation issues in combination with other land use decisions assures the preservation of historic resources but also fosters the image, identity and economic development goals in the Comprehensive Plan.
- The plan promotes the maintenance of a strong and clear distinction between the urban and rural characters of Lawrence-Douglas County. The plan defines areas anticipated to receive new urban growth near existing urban areas and establishes parameters for non-farm development in Douglas County.
- The plan encourages the conservation of sensitive natural and environmental features and discourages development where two or more features exist in combination or would result in costly public improvement projects.
- The plan defines the limits of urban growth area for the planning period. Through adoption of an annexation policy, development can be anticipated to occur in areas most easily served by public facilities and services and future development can be scheduled in concert with planned infrastructure improvements.
- The plan recommends that the City and County consider utilizing development/performance standards for all major land development projects. Standards would give the community reasonable control over design and development, and provide developers incentives for creative and quality new development.
These overall plan features provide the basic framework for the specific land use recommendations which follow.
B. LAND USE
1. RESIDENTIAL LAND USE AND NEIGHBORHOODS
Lawrence and Douglas County have traditionally been strong and desirable residential communities. The Land Use Plan strives to strengthen and reinforce existing residential areas and promote quality new residential development in select areas. The Plan includes strategies and general development policies for guiding improvement and development within residential areas, and specific recommendations for the type and location of new residential development.
Strategies: Residential Development
The principal strategies for approaching residential land use areas are:
- Requests for annexation shall be consistent with approved neighborhood plans, area development plans and sector plans.
- Infill residential development should be considered prior to annexation of new residential areas.
- A mixture of housing types, styles and economic levels should be encouraged for new residential and infill developments.
- Compatible densities should be encouraged in residential neighborhoods by providing appropriate transition zones between low density residential land uses and more intensive residential development and between higher density residential uses and nonresidential land uses.
- The character and appearance of existing residential neighborhoods should be protected and enhanced. Infill development, rehabilitation or reconstruction should reflect architectural qualities and style of existing neighborhoods.
- Neighborhood plans, area development plans and sector plans should be developed or amended to reflect the comprehensive plan's goals and policies for residential development.
- The design, site improvements and infrastructure shall be consistent with adopted neighborhood plans, area development plans and sector plans.
- New residential development in Douglas County should protect and enhance the rural character and quality of unincorporated portions of the County.
- Clustering of development shall be encouraged when considering residential development in the unincorporated portions of the county to preserve the rural character, protect environmentally sensitive areas and to more efficiently provide services.
2. COMMERCIAL LAND USE
The Plan strives to strengthen and reinforce the role and function of existing commercial areas within Lawrence and Douglas County and promote quality new commercial development in selected locations.
Strategies: Commercial Development
The principal strategies for the development and maintenance of commercial land use areas are:
- Establish and maintain a system of commercial development which provides for neighborhood, community and regional commercial and retail development anticipated to meet the community's needs through the planning period.
- Require commercial development to occur in "nodes" and avoid continuous lineal commercial development along the City's street corridors and Douglas County roads.
- Maintain downtown Lawrence as the primary regional commercial center for the community through careful planning of the number, scale, location and use mix of other commercial and retail locations in the community.
- Encourage the infill development and redevelopment of existing commercial areas with emphasis on downtown Lawrence and existing commercial gateways. Sensitivity should be given to important architectural or historical elements in the review of proposals.
- Improve the overall image of the community through development and enhancement of the community's commercial and retail areas.
- In Douglas County, focus and build upon key existing commercial areas [identified in the Horizon 2020 Background Studies] to provide day-to-day goods and services to residents of unincorporated Douglas County.
3. INDUSTRIAL AND EMPLOYMENT LAND USE
Business and industrial development has occurred within the City of Lawrence and a few areas of unincorporated Douglas County. Technology development, related to ties with the University of Kansas, and growth in the greater Kansas City area indicate potential for substantial new jobs in the future. The Land Use Plan recommends a number of new office, office/research and industrial development locations in the City of Lawrence.
Strategies: Industrial Land Use
The principal strategies for the development and maintenance of industrial areas are:
- The Comprehensive Plan strives to increase the number and diversity of jobs available to citizens of Douglas County. The intent is to stabilize the future employment base and generate additional wealth in the community. This strategy requires the community to make available an adequate amount of land in a number of locations to meet diverse development needs. The plan designates and encourages the development of a number of employment areas.
- In order to secure a job growth goal of 20,000 total new jobs in Douglas County by the year 2020, the community must increase its involvement in economic development activities. The plan encourages the continued cooperation of the local business community and area educational institutions to bring new technology and investment to the community.
- The plan recognizes the need to protect, enhance and retain existing industrially-related land use areas serving the community.
- The community should continue to address the needs of existing local employers and industrialists to ensure their retention and to facilitate expansion plans for the future.
- Work with developers and industrialists to make available sites, improvements and amenities which best respond to the market demands while meeting community objectives for the type and quality of development.
- Provide employment locations in various parts of the community and encourage bicycle and pedestrian access improvements to employment centers from community neighborhoods.
C. GROWTH MANAGEMENT
Growth management is a fundamental tool for ensuring timely and orderly growth of the City and unincorporated Douglas County. The recommended growth management policies do not seek to limit the amount of land for future development. Rather, the plan directs development to growth areas and suggests that development occur where necessary infrastructure is in place or planned to serve proposed uses, subject to the policies of the plan.
The growth management policies seek to ensure that adequate facilities and services are provided, or are assured, in connection with development. The policies also seek to require new development to bear its share of the costs for the extension and improvement of required facilities and services; and, to assure that the residents of Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County are not unreasonably burdened by these costs.
Strategies: Growth Management
The principal strategies for guiding and serving future growth and development are:
- Establish urban growth areas for all Douglas County cities. In the Lawrence urban growth area, ensure that the staging of development corresponds with the availability of facilities and services.
- For the City of Lawrence, establish urban service areas where adequate facilities and services already exist.
- For the Lawrence urban growth area, define prerequisite conditions which development must meet to conform with the intent of the overall plan.
The comprehensive plan includes an overview of the Transportation Plan for the City of Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County. It includes: 1) Core Transportation Strategies; 2) Transportation Goals and Policies; 3) Functional Street and Road Classification; 4) Street System Improvements; 5) Bicycle and Pedestrian Access; and 6) Public Transportation.
Strategies: Transportation Plan
The following strategies express key elements of the City of Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County's overall approach for the development of transportation systems:
- In order to continue to improve the viability of pedestrian and bicycle access as an important alternative transportation mode, the City and County will continue to develop and extend its bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and public transportation services.
- Coordination and cooperation among the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University and public school districts will be required to coordinate a successful system of vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access systems.
- The City and County will collaborate on and pursue planned transportation improvements which add substantial capacity to the street and roadway system and facilitate the land use plan. Initially, this will include the completion of a circumferential road system around Lawrence.
E. COMMUNITY FACILITIES
1. PARKS, RECREATION AND OPEN SPACE
The parks and recreation system consists of sites, facilities and programs which perform several important functions in the Lawrence and Douglas County community. The most basic is the provision of recreational services to local residents; an effective system can create opportunities for a wide range of leisure time experiences. The system can also help protect environmentally sensitive resources, define and delineate neighborhood areas, and serve as an important visual feature in the City and County.
Strategies: Parks, Recreation and Open Space
The principal strategies for the development and maintenance of parks, recreation and open spaces are:
- The development and improvement of recreation and open space systems in the City of Lawrence should build upon the existing open space system and integrate recommendations regarding community facilities and neighborhood plans.
- The plan recommends that natural and environmental features be preserved, protected and utilized as focal points for new development areas. To the extent possible, new parks, schools and public buildings should be located near the open space system created by existing environmental features.
- Parks and recreation planning and development should be carefully coordinated between Lawrence and Douglas County. The plan recommends overlapping and connecting park and recreation improvements. Additionally, the City and County should more carefully coordinate park and open space acquisition in the Lawrence Urban Growth Area.
- Development of the park, recreation and open space system for the City of Lawrence should be based on priorities contained within the Lawrence Comprehensive Plan for Parks and Recreation.
- In the planning process, the Park and Recreation Advisory Board should seek the advice of the Planning Commission in recommendations involving the location and features of future park and recreation sites.
2. EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
Schools, universities and other educational facilities are among the most important facilities in a predominantly residential community such as Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County. They not only provide educational services, but also play an important cultural, recreational and social role as well.
The following strategies express key elements of the Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County approach to education:
- The plan seeks cooperation by independent entities, such as local school districts, universities and municipalities, at all levels of decision-making and acknowledgement that actions of all agencies influence the overall character of the community.
- Educational and governmental institutions should meet regularly to discuss current needs and issues as well as pending plans and projects, with the intent to collaborate on joint solutions which meet the widest range of jurisdictional needs.
3. MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES
In addition to parks and schools, other public buildings and facilities in Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County require future planning. These include: fire protection; emergency services; police and sheriff facilities; municipal offices; public works facilities; and libraries and museums.
Strategies: Municipal Buildings and Facilities
The following strategies identify elements of Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County municipal buildings and facilities needs:
- Close intergovernmental cooperation is recommended to ensure, to the greatest degree possible, facilities and services are maximized while minimizing duplication.
- The potential for privatization of municipal services should continue to be explored. The City and County's objectives are to maximize desired services for residents while providing service delivery at the lowest possible cost. The strategy also includes the consolidation of service providers and entities wherever possible.
- The City and County should capitalize on the visual and image potentials which are presented by community facilities. At a minimum, all facilities should be well-maintained and be located on attractively landscaped sites. New public buildings represent unique opportunities to develop new civic landmarks and focal points.
- The City and County should undertake a comprehensive self-assessment of accessibility needs. The criteria for this assessment should be based upon the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. A complete inventory and prioritization of improvements should be completed as soon as possible. These requirements will affect capital improvement programming and the scheduling of development of new facilities in the future.
4. PUBLIC UTILITIES
While public utilities are important from the standpoint of sustaining day-to-day needs of the community, the presence or absence of major utilities will directly influence the locations and pace of future development. The Plan recognizes the need to carefully plan for the continued service to existing areas of Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County, and the locations for new and expanded utilities.
brief: The following strategies for utilities are critical to achieving a number of the Plan's goals and policies for Lawrence and unincorporated Douglas County:
- Plans should emphasize utility improvements and extensions that provide the highest level of service within existing service areas, particularly public water and wastewater treatment and collection. Costs which are associated with the accelerated timing of the extension of utilities into new development areas should ultimately be borne by the developments requiring these facilities.
- Adoption and implementation of a utility extension policy for the City of Lawrence will guide the sequencing of appropriate future development areas within the urban growth area.
- As an on-going planning priority, the City will continue to search for ways to secure additional raw water rights to serve the community.
- The visual appearance of utility improvements will be addressed to ensure compatibility with existing and planned land use areas.
- Wherever possible, the location of new major utility corridors should be preplanned to ensure land use compatibility and minimal disruption to existing development areas.
F. HISTORIC RESOURCES
Citizens of Lawrence and Douglas County recognize the importance of historic resources in Douglas County. Understanding and preserving the past not only helps define a community's sense of place but provides a sense of direction for future development and growth. Citizens view historic resources with a sense of pride, community identity, and a respect for the physical and cultural heritage of the community.
The Comprehensive Plan encourages identification, protection, preservation and adaptive reuse of the wide diversity of historic buildings, structures, sites and archeological sites that can be found in Lawrence and Douglas County. The Plan seeks to balance historic preservation and land use issues when making planning decisions.
Strategies: Historic Resources
The following statements summarize the goals and objectives of the City and County's overall approach for the protection, development and utilization of historic resources:
- Facilitate the identification, evaluation, designation and preservation of historic and archeological resources by developing and implementing a Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan for Lawrence and the unincorporated portions of Douglas County. When practical, the plan should seek the involvement and cooperation of all municipalities within Douglas County.
- Integrate the identification, evaluation and designation of Lawrence's and Douglas County's significant historical and archeological resources into the planning process including the funding of a comprehensive resources inventory program.
- Develop appropriate mechanisms for the identification, evaluation, designation and preservation of historic and archeological resources at all levels of municipal government. Efforts to maintain and strengthen preservation efforts among municipal, county, state and federal entities are strongly encouraged.
- Establish traditional and non-traditional economic incentives and adaptive reuse alternatives for historic resources.
- Increase awareness of historic preservation through development of public education programs, technical assistance programs and heritage tourism. Information regarding historic preservation and historic resources should be readily accessible in a variety of locations and mediums.
- Develop appropriate zoning and building code regulations to facilitate the preservation, renovation and rehabilitation of historic resources.
G. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Lawrence-Douglas County has engaged in traditional marketing and business attraction as its primary tool for economic development. This approach has been successful in the past but it differs little from that of competing communities. If the community is to maintain a separate identity which includes an ample supply of local jobs to match anticipated growth in population and housing, it must harness the efforts and energy of the business community. Economic development builds upon opportunities created by economic change and the need for valued-added business with growing wages and employment.
The scope of this element of the comprehensive plan is county-wide and includes the incorporated cities of Eudora, Baldwin and Lecompton in the overall recommendations along with Lawrence and the unincorporated areas of the county.
Strategies: Economic Development
The following strategies express key elements of the City and County's overall approach to economic development. A three-part strategy is recommended:
1. Create an entrepreneurial environment. Lawrence-Douglas County is in an advantageous position to foster small business formation, entrepreneurship and expansion of existing businesses. A conducive entrepreneurial environment is characterized by:
- Continuous affirmations of the virtues of entrepreneurship (a strong confirmatory message from local civic, government, media and business leaders);
- Tax and regulatory policies and practices that positively affect small business, and existing businesses that are expanding;
- Convenient, timely access to resources, especially capital;
- Dedication to on-going research and education of entrepreneurship in universities and public schools; and
- Widespread community awareness of the traits of entrepreneurs such as their bias for action and willingness to take risks that are based on trends.
2. Selectively recruit businesses, with emphasis on anchors and clusters of interdependent firms. Given scarce economic development resources, the focus of our efforts will be directed at businesses which have the following characteristics:
- A track record or plans to move into higher valued products and services with potential for wage increases over time;
- Potential to do business with the local firms, strengthening local supplier chains;
- Sensitive to the environment;
- Generate local tax revenues that exceed the cost of government services to the firm in the long run; and
- Offer a diversity of jobs.
3. Strengthen Image and Tourism with attraction of visitors to business, educational, and recreational activities. New opportunities are available for Douglas County. Steps to enhance these opportunities should include:
- Expanded local cultural activities that make the area an attraction for visitors and tourists;
- Expanded international trade and joint venturing made possible by the efforts of Kansas International, the Chamber of Commerce and the universities;
- Expanded cultural, educational, and social exchange programs including strong sister city relationships; and
- An international awareness program available to schools and youth programs.
GOALS AND POLICIES
A. GROWTH MANAGEMENT GOALS
GOAL 1: Establish Urban Growth Areas
Urban Growth Areas are needed surrounding the cities of Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton to direct and guide new development.
GOAL 2: Conserve the Rural Character of Douglas County
The rural character of Douglas County should be preserved for agricultural and natural uses in those areas beyond the urban growth areas surrounding the cities of Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton.
GOAL 3: Annexation Policy
To implement the goals of the comprehensive plan, to provide for the orderly development of the community and to provide areas of land which will receive municipal services that can accommodate the residential, commercial and industrial growth of the community, it will be necessary to annex additional land into the incorporated municipal boundaries of Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton.
B. LOW-DENSITY RESIDENTIAL LAND USE GOALS
GOAL 1: Criteria for Low-Density Residential Development within the Unincorporated Areas
Adopt criteria which will provide housing opportunities while conserving the overall open character of the County. Residential development beyond [any incorporated city limits] should be directed to areas designated as future urban growth areas.
GOAL 2: Criteria for Rural Residential Development within the Unincorporated Areas - beyond the designated urban growth areas.
GOAL 3: Neighborhood Conservation
The character and appearance of existing low-density residential neighborhoods should be protected and improvements made where necessary to maintain the values of properties and enhance the quality of life.
GOAL 4: Criteria for Location of Low-Density Residential Development
Adopt criteria to guide the placement and design of stable, safe and pleasant neighborhoods.
GOAL 5: Create a Functional and Aesthetic Living Environment
Create and maintain neighborhoods that are aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient and practical.
GOAL 6: Compatible Transition from Low-Density Residential Development to More Intensive Land Uses
Ensure transition from low-density residential neighborhoods is compatible with more intensive residential and nonresidential land uses.
C. MEDIUM- AND HIGHER-DENSITY RESIDENTIAL LAND USE GOALS
GOAL 1: Criteria for Location of Medium- and Higher-Density Residential Development
Adopt criteria which will ensure that livability, property values, open space, safety and the general welfare are sustained.
GOAL 2: Create a Functional and Aesthetic Living Environment
Create and maintain medium- and higher-density residential developments that are aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient and practical.
GOAL 3: Compatible Transition from Medium- and Higher-Density Residential Development to Both More Intensive and Less Intensive Land Uses
Ensure transition from medium- and higher-density residential neighborhoods is compatible with nonresidential land uses or low-density residential land uses.
GOAL 4: Transportation Considerations
Promote a transportation system which provides or improves access and circulation within and adjacent to medium- and higher-density residential areas.
D. COMMERCIAL LAND USE GOALS
GOAL 1: Established Commercial Area Development
Encourage the retention, redevelopment and expansion of established commercial areas of the community.
GOAL 2: Compatible Transition from Commercial Development to Less Intensive Uses
Ensure compatible transition from commercial development to residential neighborhoods and other less intensive land uses.
GOAL 3: Criteria for Location of Commercial Development
Provide regional, community and neighborhood shopping opportunities to meet the commercial and retail needs of the community.
GOAL 4: Transportation Considerations
Promote a multi-modal transportation system which provides or improves access and circulation within and adjacent to commercial areas.
E. INDUSTRIAL AND EMPLOYMENT-RELATED LAND USE GOALS
GOAL 1: Established Industrial Area Development
Allow for the retention, redevelopment and expansion of established industrial areas.
GOAL 2: Compatible Transition from Industrial/Employment-Related Development to Less Intensive Uses
Ensure a compatible transition between industrial and employment-related developments and less intensive land uses.
GOAL 3: Criteria for Location of Industrial or Employment-Related Development
Provide industrial and employment areas to meet the economic needs of the community.
GOAL 4: Transportation Considerations
Promote a multi-modal transportation system which provides or improves access and circulation within and adjacent to industrial areas.
F. TRANSPORTATION GOALS
GOAL 1: Transportation Considerations
Promote a multi-modal transportation system which provides or improves access and circulation throughout the city and county.
GOAL 2: Street System Goal
Provide an efficient and effective network of streets and roads which access all appropriate areas, provide continuity and connections into and beyond the City of Lawrence and Douglas County, and support the arrangements of various land uses within the urbanized area.
Goal 3: Access Management Goal
Promote the mixture of planning, design, traffic operations, and administrative actions to coordinate roadway access in order to maximize safety and mobility while reducing delays to travel.
GOAL 4: Public Transportation System Goal
Implement a coordinated public transportation system that offers a viable choice of travel which addresses the needs of individuals and the community as a whole. Public transportation should be viewed as an alternative mode of transportation to reduce localized traffic congestion, improve air quality, conserve energy, and provide better transportation for those who choose not to or are unable to drive.