Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2002

Commission approves plats despite floodplain concerns

January 3, 2002


City commissioners approved two residential development plats Wednesday, even though the projects would be prohibited under proposed new floodplain regulations.

"I think this highlights the need to get (floodplain regulations) done," Commissioner David Dunfield said.

Lawrence city commissioners want to make sure state budget problems don't get passed to local government.Commissioners on Wednesday decided to make that concern a top issue for their 2002 Legislative Policy Statement, a guide for local legislators on issues of city interest.City officials say the state might divert money from an alcohol tax from cities back into state coffers. They also worry the state might renege on commitments to local road projects."I think we're all concerned the state is going to come in and start taking pieces of our pie," Commissioner Marty Kennedy said.The full statement will be presented to legislators at a special breakfast, 8 a.m. Jan. 10 at the Eldridge Hotel, Seventh and Massachusetts streets.

The plats approved Wednesday define the legal boundaries for two projects by Lawrence developer John Chaney: a four-lot residential subdivision on Seventh Street between Hickory and Lake streets; and a similar project on North Street, west of North Eighth Street.

Both lots are in the 100-year floodplain, city officials said.

Proposed regulations would virtually prohibit new development in that floodplain except for land platted before the regulations take effect. But Chaney said that wasn't why he submitted the plats now.

"The lots are already being taxed as separate lots," he said. "This is just making it official."

The city has moratoria on annexing new land in North Lawrence and in floodplains, but the plats are legal under existing regulations. The city is generally obligated to approve a plat unless it doesn't conform to rules.

Still, Dunfield asked for special discussion of the issue, noting the plats wouldn't be allowed if the new regulations were in place. A subcommittee of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission is still reviewing the regulations.

Dunfield said he is "frustrated" at the pace of the review.

"I think when we set a moratorium on (annexations) for the floodplains, I think we anticipated the new regulations would be in place by the first of the year," he told his fellow commissioners.

It doesn't appear that developers are rushing to plat floodplain properties, however. Chaney's request is the first since the proposed regulations were unveiled. Only one more request for a development on North Eighth between Lake and Lauren streets is in the pipeline.

But city commissioners say they will have to extend the moratoria, currently slated to expire Jan. 15.

"I just want to get this resolved so we don't have confusion over what's appropriate and what's not appropriate," Dunfield told the Journal-World after the meeting.

The subcommittee reviewing the regulations meets at 8 a.m. today in City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

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