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Archive for Friday, September 20, 1996

COUNTY RATTLES HORIZON 2020 PLAN

September 20, 1996

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The fragile city-county coalition to approve Horizon 2020 was shaken this week.

If Douglas County commissioners start editing Horizon 2020, they may jeopardize a deal with the city to make more water meters available in rural areas south of Lawrence.

That was the message from city hall Thursday, the day after county commissioners said they wanted to relax some of the rural development guidelines contained in the proposed countywide land-use plan. Lawrence Mayor John Nalbandian said the city only agreed to raise the lid on water meter sales if Horizon 2020 was approved intact.

``I thought we pretty much had an agreement on this,'' Nalbandian said. ``The more they want to tinker, the more tenuous that agreement becomes.''

Commission Chairman Louie McElhaney, a rural resident who owns land that would be affected by the stricter development guidelines, says he won't vote for Horizon 2020. That means that commissioners Jim Chappell and Mark Buhler both must approve it if the county is to join the city in endorsing the new planning guide.

However, without the water meter deal in place, Chappell won't vote to approve Horizon 2020 and Buhler is asking whether it makes sense for the city to dictate development regulations south of the Wakarusa River when the city won't be providing sewer service and annexing land there before the year 2020.

Buhler has asked county staff to find out whether the plan can be amended to shrink the city's sphere of influence in rural Douglas County.

Nalbandian said such revisions would tempt city commissioners to reconsider the water meter deal and also would reopen discussion of the land-use guidelines. That would probably mean the final vote on the plan couldn't be held before Jan. 1, when Chappell and McElhaney leave office.

``If they want to make changes, then we need to revisit it, and I think that puts the timetable in jeopardy,'' Nalbandian said.

Buhler said Thursday that he was not trying to stir up trouble. However, he doesn't understand why the city wants to dictate development regulations south of the Wakarusa River until it can provide sewer services there.

``I don't think we have a fight,'' he said. ``I'm just asking the questions I think need to be asked because this is something we all have trouble getting our arms around.''

Buhler said he still intended to vote to approve the guide plan.

``I'm just going slow,'' he said. ``I want to feel good about it when I do it.''

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will consider these issues when it meets at 6:35 p.m. Oct. 23 in city hall.

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