Congratulations to city and county officials for successfully concluding their drawn-out negotiation over new subdivision regulations to guide development in rural Douglas County.
After more than a year of talking about the regulations, disagreements between the city and county seemed to be resolved fairly quickly after county commissioners threatened earlier this month to approve the regulations and move ahead without the city's approval. Although county officials insisted that they had no intention of dissolving the county's long-standing planning partnership with the city, unilateral action on the subdivision regulations was seen as a threat to that relationship.
Whatever their intention, the announcement by county commissioners apparently got the attention of their counterparts in city government. Mayor Mike Amyx responded almost immediately with an offer to meet with county officials and work out the remaining differences between the city and county on the regulations. Within three weeks the two bodies had reached an agreement and given formal approval to the document.
Cooperation between the city and county on the new regulations was important because the goal was to provide an easier transition for rural residential property that is likely to become part of the city of Lawrence. The new regulations eliminate the so-called 5-acre exemption, which allows plots of at least 5 acres to be developed without going through the planning process. Now, all new homes in the rural part of the county will be subject to administrative approval by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office. The goal is to make it easier to extend city streets and utilities to these areas when and if they become part of the city.
This kind of cooperative planning between the city and county is an important component to growth policies that serve both city and county residents. County commissioners say they never intended to break that tie, but the frustration they expressed by threatening to implement the new subdivision regulations without city approval certainly seemed to have the desired effect.