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Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

City commission enters floodplain fray

Study session scheduled Sept. 26 to learn about planning recommendation

September 4, 2002

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The floodplain regulations debate is far from over.

Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday delayed a planned Sept. 17 hearing and possible decision on new floodplain regulations so they can have a study session to more thoroughly examine the proposal.

"It's so we can make an educated decision," Mayor Sue Hack said.

And the commissioner who has kept closest tabs on the floodplain rules during their formation indicated he was unsatisfied with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission's recommendation.

The version "passed by the planning commission doesn't appear to me to meet the criteria set by their subcommittee that devised the rules," Commissioner David Dunfield said.

Those criteria, he said, were that new development in the city not increase flooding on neighboring properties.

Rules recommended by that subcommittee would have allowed building in the floodplain only if a property owner could produce a hydrological study showing the new structure wouldn't change the floodplain's elevation or contours.

The proposed regulations also expanded the floodplain to include areas that would be affected if the elevation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency-designated 100-year floodplain were raised 2 feet. The expanded floodplain would include 1,200 additional Lawrence properties not designated by FEMA, officials have said.

After volatile public comment, city planners came back with two revised versions:

l Version One essentially strips the expanded floodplain from property within existing city limits. It also gives undeveloped but platted properties within the existing FEMA floodplain five years to develop before the hydrological requirements kick in. This version was approved by the planning commission last month.

l Version Two leaves the original rules largely intact, but changes the "floodplain overlay district" label to "drainage protection overlay district" in response to concerns the original designation would hurt property values. This version was rejected by the planning commission.

The city commission will have both versions to consider. City commissioners also may choose to send the proposals back to the planning commission for further refinement.

The study session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sept. 26.

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