Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2005

Land-use guidelines top issue for county

September 18, 2005


Starting healthy-growth initiatives for land use should allow Douglas County to manage growth and position it needs to see more urbanization.

"We need to see the full value of our land, and to do that we need to have good policy in place for land use," said Douglas County Commission Chairman Charles Jones.

Douglas County commissioners have steadily worked on rural subdivision and land-use plan proposal for the last several months with the assistance of the Lawrence-Douglas County planning staff.

The issue of land use and regulations is the single biggest issue before the county commission.

"It could reshape how Douglas County grows in the future," County Administrator Craig Weinaug said. "Whether what is implemented is something substantially different from what is in place is still a question. But the question probably will be answered in the next three to five months."

At this time, the proposal prevents subdivisions from forming on 5 acres of land in rural parts of Douglas County, a practice that has irked commissioners. The 5-acre exemption has allowed residents in rural areas to build a home on 5 acres or more without going through the plotting or rezoning process. The working proposal before commissioners would require a minimum of 20 acres before a home could be built.

"We also need to make sure we direct growth into good land in the county," Commission Jere McElhaney said. "We don't want people building in low areas near floodplains or areas too rocky and not good for development."

The hope is the plan could be enacted by the beginning of the 2006.

County leaders continue to work on various road and bridge projects.

County Engineer Keith Browning said the county is in the process of acquiring right-of-way for an improvement project along County Road 1055, which is commonly used to travel between Lawrence and Baldwin.

As part of the improvement project, a bridge near the Cedar Hill Gun Club, 918 East 1650 Road, will be replaced. Two curves directly south of the bridge also would be improved as part of the project, which has an estimated construction cost of $1.05 million.

"We also should soon be starting a curve improvement project along County Route 458," Browning said.

Construction began mid-September for the curve improvement project, which is located along Route 458 just three miles west of U.S. Highway 59 and southeast of the Clinton Lake Dam.


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