Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Public offers feedback on floodplain regulations

February 12, 2002


A planning commission subcommittee on Monday heard a host of suggested revisions to proposed floodplain-development regulations.

On Wednesday morning, the subcommittee will decide whether to move forward with the proposal or whether to send it back to planners to incorporate those changes.

If that happens, Subcommittee Chairwoman Jane Bateman said, "I don't know how many more meetings it might take."

Twenty speakers attended Monday's meeting, the subcommittee's chance to take public comment on the latest version of the regulations. Instead of creating a virtual ban on floodplain development, construction would be allowed as long as developers could produce a study showing construction would have zero effect on the floodplain.

Most of the speakers, many of them representing neighborhood groups, favored strict regulations. Jeanne Klein, representing the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, noted the city had spent $11 million on stormwater drainage problems since the 1993 flood, with millions more to be spent.

"Allowing future construction of any kind in any flood-prone area will only exacerbate the rising costs of stormwater improvements and maintenance.

"The bottom line is that man cannot control Mother Nature," she said. "We must accept the geographical facts that Lawrence is wedged between the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers and Clinton Lake Dam"

Betty Lichtwardt, representing the League of Women Voters, suggested that landowners will have to live with the restrictions for the greater good.

"Our Constitution guarantees us property rights," she said, "not profitability rights."

But business owners and developers said that regulations, while needed, should be loosened. Some said more work needs to be done; others suggested the regulations would draw a lawsuit.

"I think we all agree that some regulations are needed," said Samih Staitieh, who owns properties in North Lawrence. "But I don't think we have had the studies done to demonstrate the need for what we see here. Let us see who benefits and who doesn't."

"I ask that you adopt regulations that are restrictive," said Realtor Marilyn Bittenbender, "not impossible."

The subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday in City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

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