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Archive for Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rural development rules to pass next hurdle soon

October 10, 2006

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After months of revising and negotiating their way through myriad amendments to rural development and subdivision regulations, Douglas County commissioners may be about a week away from giving them final approval.

The amendments made to regulations and planning documents such as Horizon 2020 will then be sent for discussion to the Lawrence City Commission.

"I think it is time for us to move it on to the City Commission," County Commissioner Charles Jones said during Monday's County Commission meeting.

There are still some details and differences to be worked out between what county commissioners propose and what the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission recommended for approval a couple of months ago, but Jones and County Commissioner Bob Johnson said they are about ready to finish up.

County Commissioner Jere McElhaney was absent because of illness.

Among the key issues the county still needs to decide and take action on are:

¢ Whether to set rural residential property road frontages at 250 feet or go with the Planning Commission's recommendation of 330 feet. Jones and Johnson said they were inclined to go with 330 feet.

¢ County commissioners want to discuss further the issue of 80-acre platted subdivisions in the rural area and 40-acre platted subdivisions in the urban growth area. Also at issue are whether two or three residential divisions will be allowed on 20-acre land parcels.

Johnson has said he favors three divisions, and Jones said he is willing to go along with that. Both said they wanted to have a unanimous vote on the issue and will see what McElhaney wants to do when he returns to Wednesday night's meeting.

Jones and Johnson asked the Planning Commission for more information about how subdivisions would be created inside the urban growth area.

Commissioners also asked for more information about amendments concerning conservation easements, reserving land for future development and the differences between the two. Conservation easements generally involve areas such as wetlands or prairie that are to be preserved.

No action was taken on the amendments during the meeting. Jones and Johnson wanted to wait and have further discussions during Wednesday night's meeting with McElhaney present. They said a final vote probably would not take place until the Oct. 18 meeting.

If the county doesn't make substantial changes to recommendations made by the Planning Commission, the amendments will go to the city.

Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday in the second-floor courtroom in the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

In other business, commissioners gave approval to Sheriff Ken McGovern to purchase digital video cameras and accompanying equipment for patrol cars at a cost of $94,968. They will replace older VHS cameras and equipment.

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