The commission agreed Wednesday to start the review process, because some changes to the city's floodplain regulations must be made by Nov. 7 -- or Lawrence will be dropped from the federal flood insurance program. Reapplying is a difficult process, Planning Director Linda Finger said.
"It's very critical we stick to the timeline," she said.
Bryan Dyer, a city planner, said the proposed regulations go beyond the federal mandates and make three major changes:
l Subdivisions in floodplains would be prohibited, leaving landowners able to create only one home per tract of land. This would affect mainly property owners in North Lawrence.
"The reason is to prevent the situation from getting worse," Dyer said. "Maybe a house is there, but you don't want three or four houses there."
l Creation of a floodway zoning district that would restrict the land mainly to agricultural, conservation or other public uses.
l Creation of an overlay district for the "fringe" of the 100-year floodplain that would allow some limited development of land that's already platted.
Floodplains are low-lying areas of land -- particularly, in Lawrence, near the Wakarusa and Kansas rivers -- likely to be flooded during heavy rains.
Planning commissioners have expressed reservation about the proposals, but agreed to formally examine them along with the federally mandated changes at Finger's request.
"We would like you to (consider) the full body of regulations," she said. "You don't have to approve the full body of regulations, but this will get it out there for public review."
-- Staff writer Joel Mathis can be reached at 832-7126.