It's T-minus 104 days and counting until Horizon 2020 must be approved, unless the Douglas County Commission wants to scrub the launch and deal with a new crew.
Two Douglas County commissioners want to piece together a workable land-use plan by the end of the year.
That means checking with lawyers to find out whether changing development restrictions on a 20-square-mile area of land south of the Wakarusa River constitutes a "major change" in Horizon 2020, they decided Wednesday night.
Linda Finger, the city-county planning director, warned commissioners that shrinking the plan's "service area four" could qualify as a major change in the plan, and therefore push its passage past Jan. 1 -- the day when Commissioners Louie McElhaney and Jim Chappell leave the commission.
Chappell wants the plan passed before he leaves.
Failure is not an option.
"I feel like I'm on Apollo 13," Chappell said, one of three commissioners at the plan's helm. "I'm being slung around the moon, and we've only got one shot at getting home. If we do anything very big, we're dead."
McElhaney, who lives in the disputed service area, said he didn't want any part of the plan, because of its platting and strict road-construction requirements.
"Well, think how much better that is than being on Flight 800," said McElhaney, who chairs the commission.
In the end, commissioners did not vote on the land-use guide itself but did sort out a few issues to be considered by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission -- the group that must start the public process for getting the plan's goals and policies into practice:
- Service area four -- generally stretching across Lawrence's southern edge, on both sides of the Wakarusa -- should be reduced, Commissioner Mark Buhler said. He and McElhaney agreed that the land south of the river wouldn't likely receive city services by the year 2020, thus making higher development standards illogical.
- The city must offer area rural water districts the ability to sell more water meters, and that offer must occur simultaneously with approval of Horizon 2020, Chappell said. Otherwise, his vote would quickly become negative.
- New water lines in rural areas shouldn't all be six inches in diameter. Smaller ones should be allowed in areas less likely to be annexed into the city soon, Buhler said.
Planning commissioners will consider these and other issues Oct. 23, leaving county commissioners to consider the entire plan Nov. 13 and Lawrence city commissioners to pick it up Nov. 19.