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Archive for Sunday, September 15, 1996

LAND PLAN DEADLINE LOOMS ON HORIZON

September 15, 1996

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A schedule for approving the new land-use plan doesn't allow much room for error.

Douglas County commissioners will have to act Wednesday if they hope to meet a tight schedule that will let them approve both Horizon 2020 and a water meter agreement by the end of the year.

The schedule is designed to satisfy a demand by County Commissioner Jim Chappell, who has given priority to an agreement with the city of Lawrence to free up rural water meters. City officials have said they'll comply if higher rural development standards outlined in the new countywide land-use guide can be implemented.

``I have made it very clear that without the water meter deal in place, I'm not going to approve Horizon 2020,'' Chappell said, noting that he would be willing to consider both issues simultaneously.

``I'm not going to do theirs now and mine later,'' he said.

The county commission will consider the issue when it meets at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday in the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts.

Chappell's vote on Horizon 2020 carries extra weight at this point because it may control passage of the entire planning guide. Although Lawrence City Commission approval is assured, a majority of the three-member Douglas County Commission also must approve Horizon 2020 for the plan to be adopted.

If County Commission Chairman Louie McElhaney, a property rights advocate, cannot come to terms with the higher rural development standards being sought by the city, Chappell's vote becomes the swing.

If Horizon 2020 isn't approved by the first of the year, when Chappell and McElhaney leave the commission, then two new commissioners would have to be educated about the plan, which has been more than five years in the making.

City-County Planning Director Linda Finger said that to meet the yearend deadline, the county commission will have to vote Wednesday to initiate the public hearing process for proposed text amendments that will implement the higher rural development standards.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission would hold the hearing when it meets Oct. 16.

The amendments would come back to the county commission Nov. 6 and be considered by the city commission Nov. 12.

Planning staff could have both Horizon 2020 and amended subdivision regulations ready for approval by the city and county commissions in late November or early December.

``As long as we don't lose any wheels, we're rolling along,'' Finger said.

This assumes that the county commission won't make significant changes in the content of the Horizon 2020 draft that they'll also consider Wednesday. City commissioners already have approved the draft with only minor changes.

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