Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2001

Flood plain, annexation top agenda for planners

July 12, 2001

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The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission has its work cut out for the year.

The city's annexation policy, flood plain development and extending the urban growth area lead the list of priorities commissioners discussed Wednesday morning at their regular mid-month study session.

There's so much to be done, planning officials said, the commission should meet longer or more often to study the issues. Commissioners, whose meetings sometimes last more than five hours, seemed to favor meeting more frequently.

"I don't see anything wrong with having two study sessions a month, if we have all these pressing issues," Commissioner Jane Bateman said.

Planning Director Linda Finger urged commissioners to take a big-picture policy view during their study sessions.

"What the meat of your process should be is to do the long-range planning, the visioning for the community," she said. "That's something we haven't done really well the last couple of years."

Planners and commissioners kicked around several topics:

The nature of growth in rural Douglas County.

"There needs to be discussion about how much growth that's not agricultural should be allowed outside the cities, and, if so, where it should be," Finger said.

Encouragement of redevelopment within cities to prevent sprawl.

"One thing the entire city needs to decide, not just the planning commission, is how much the city wants to support redevelopment of commercial land," Finger said. "You don't always want to leave the old and go to the new that's how you get a hole in the middle of the city."

Policies governing access to commercial properties.

Commissioners said poor access policies in earlier decades helped create current traffic problems on 23rd Street. New policies could eventually fix that, they said.

"It would take 30 or 40 years to have an effect," Commissioner Ron Durflinger said. "But if you don't start now ...."

Flood plain development.

Lawrence policies do not prohibit such development, but some city and planning commissioners have expressed interest in banning the practice.

"Given the current economic climate for development in the flood plan, we need to do it (address the issue) and get it over with," Durflinger said.

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