Archive for Thursday, August 14, 2003

Planning Commission begins debate on zoning code changes

August 14, 2003


In 1966, an actor was elected governor of California, the United States was involved in a war, and the city of Lawrence changed its zoning code.

In 2003, an actor is running for governor of California, the United States is involved in a war, and the city of Lawrence is changing its zoning code.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and staff say it's about time.

"In 1966, the push was for suburban development and isolation as a pattern," Planning Director Linda Finger said. "That's not the case anymore."

Planning commissioners met for two hours Wednesday morning to map out four months of meetings to discuss comprehensive changes to the new code.

"The goal is to streamline the process for developers," Finger said.

But Commissioner Myles Schachter says he wants to make sure the new zoning code will protect neighborhoods, especially from major commercial developments.

"Office Depot, it's a great store, but it doesn't belong in a neighborhood shopping center," Schachter said.

Schachter said the proposed new, streamlined code was too general when it came to approved uses in certain zones. For example, under the new code a small shopping center at the corner of 15th Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway would be given a rather broad commercial zoning. The city's comprehensive land-use guide, Horizon 2020, designates that corner as a Neighborhood Commercial Center.

"A neighborhood shopping center is to provide goods to people in the immediate area," Schachter said. "We want to make sure the uses fill that function and don't serve a greater need."

Though discussions are still in the preliminary stages, Schachter plans to ask commissioners to look at ways to prevent certain mid-size stores from taking over a neighborhood shopping center.

"I want to discuss it, see if it's practical, and make sure we're providing protection for the neighborhoods," he said.

Commissioners will meet with a variety of commercial, residential and political groups before drafting the final revisions in December.

Before the code goes into effect, it must gain the approval of the Lawrence City Commission and the Douglas County Commission.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.