Archive for Sunday, May 25, 2003

Planning to take priority before growth

May 25, 2003


Lawrence city commissioners will move to revamp development codes to ensure the city can better guide growth.

Development of the "adequate public facilities" policy was a major priority for commissioners Saturday as they wrapped up their annual two-day goal-setting session.

The policy would mandate the city put new roads, utilities and other services in areas where commissioners want growth to follow.

"It's a way of making it possible to put the planning ahead of growth so we're not always reacting to pressures, but are providing a clear direction," Mayor David Dunfield said after the session.

Commissioners last year heard a report about the benefits of an adequate public facilities policy, but officials never came up with a way to pay for the project.

"The report's there," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "It's a question of when the commission wants to deal with it. Clearly they want to deal with it sooner than later."

At the end of the two-day session, the commission decided on little change from priorities set last year by a commission that had two different members.

Those priorities include economic development, planned growth, community building, environmental sensitivity, protecting downtown and improving transportation for all residents.

Unlike previous years, however, commissioners set their priorities in the shadow of a $2 million budget shortfall officials say will lead to some combination of steep cuts in city services and a hefty tax increase.

"The organization is at a point where the employees are stretched to meet the goals of past years," Wildgen told the commission.

But commissioners tried to put that behind them, discussing the creation of community celebrations and incentives to benefit developers who help the city grow smartly.

"You didn't let the resource limitations prevent you from thinking broadly," said Carol Nalbandian, a consultant who oversaw the goal-setting session.

Commissioners will give formal approval to the list of goals at their June 24 meeting. They will meet quarterly to review the city government's progress toward those goals.

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