Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2002

Subversive action

January 17, 2002


To the editor:

The Lawrence Journal-World has struck to the heart of Lawrence's growing pains with your Jan. 13 article ("Planners act draws criticism") on how some planning commissioners regularly overrule planning policies set forth in our comprehensive plan, Horizon 2020, and with your editorial of Jan. 15 ("Policy matters") on why subverting established policy is not an acceptable way for appointed planning commissioners to seek change in that plan.

When a planning commission goes against policy, several negative consequences occur beyond those identified in your editorial.

First, state law requires a super-majority city/county commission vote (4-1) to override a planning commission recommendation even if that "recommendation" goes against set policy. Yet it only requires a 3-2 vote to adopt the "recommendation." By subverting its mandate, the planning commission makes it easier to change policy than to maintain it. This comes about because our state law assumes the planning commission will do its job rather than attempt to replace elected officials.

Second, this same law stipulates that changing our comprehensive plan shall involve public hearings and testimony. When the planning commission makes de facto growth policy changes, it is always during a hearing on some specific development proposal; hence the public is unaware that a change in policy is about to take place and fails to attend. We are left with five or six appointed individuals having the power to change the comprehensive plan without adequate public input.

Third, by subverting its mandate, the planning commission creates uncertainty about the rest of our policies. This sets the stage for submission of more aggressive development proposals also not in agreement with existing policy, each of which tests the will of the planning commission to implement policy rather than to create new policy.

What is even more aggravating for anyone who has actually attended a regular planning commission meeting is that these hearings and votes where changes often occur are at the end of a meeting, sometimes after 11 p.m.!

It's high time planning commissioners quit subverting the public will.

Larry Kipp,


Commenting has been disabled for this item.