County commissioners aren't happy to be at impasse with the city.
Douglas County commissioners said Thursday that they still would like to resolve differences with the Lawrence City Commission over growth boundaries contained in Horizon 2020.
``It's unfortunate that we're at odds,'' said County Commission Chairman Louie McElhaney. ``I had hoped we could work something out.''
City commissioners left little doubt where they want Horizon 2020, the proposed countywide land-use plan, to put the southern border of the urban growth area (UGA). They unanimously endorsed extending the UGA to Wells Overlook Road, also known as N. 1000 Rd.
Therein lies the rift.
``I will never give in to that,'' McElhaney said, who believes the city is asking county residents to give up too much in the way of property rights. ``That's kind of like taking a steak off of the bone.''
McElhaney doesn't want the UGA extending south of the Wakarusa River because that would tighten development regulations in an area that he doesn't believe will be annexed before the year 2020.
County Commissioner Mark Buhler would agree to putting the UGA boundary at Leary Road, also known as N. 1100 Road, and County Commissioner Jim Chappell says he'd vote to grant the city's request.
Buhler said the county would be in a better bargaining position if the county commission weren't divided.
``It's a little hard for us to point a finger without us having some consensus,'' he said.
City commissioners aren't expected to pass the ordinance adopting Horizon 2020 until sometime in December. In the meantime, Buhler said he hopes the differences can be resolved. He will be the only county commissioner who will still be on the board next year. Neither Chappell nor McElhaney sought re-election on Nov. 4, and both will be replaced after the first of the year.
County officials believe the Douglas County Guide Plan would continue to direct development in unincorporated areas if the county commission, either this one or the one in office next year, can't agree on Horizon 2020.
In addition, state law may give the city some authority to designate a growth area extending three miles from its own boundaries. That would give the city regulatory control over a greater area in the county.
Chappell said that would work against the objective of unified planning.
``This thing about `we'll do ours, you do yours' is bad for the whole county,'' Chappell said.