Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

County puts focus on new rural rules

Educational sessions planned on development regulations

January 1, 2007


It took two years of work for the Douglas County Commission to get new rural development and subdivision regulations in place.

Now the County Commission wants to see that they are implemented and educate the public about what they mean.

"I think that's going to be the big thing for 2007," Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said. "We need to effectively communicate to people what they are."

Commissioner Jere McElhaney agreed but said the regulations still might need some tweaking.

"Just because we have it on paper doesn't mean it is all going to be practical," McElhaney said. "Next year we will do some fine-tuning."

Commissioner Charles Jones was on vacation and unavailable for comment, but commissioners were unanimous in adopting the new regulations.

They also convinced the Lawrence City Commission to join them in approving the complex package of documents, which has been under revision for months. Both commissions likely will review the new regulations and their effectiveness as 2007 progresses.

A major provision of the new regulations eliminates what was known as the "5-acre exemption," which allowed at least 5 acres to be developed without going through the planning process.

Now, all new homes in the rural parts of the county must go through administrative approval by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department. The intent is to make it easier for areas to be annexed into the city when that time comes.

But the regulations are complex, and commissioners say they plan to have educational sessions for the public during the year.

Rural roads are likely to be another key topic in 2007, Johnson said.

Some rural roads are maintained by townships, while others are handled by the county's Public Works Department. Johnson thinks it might make sense to have the roads under a single management system.

"Whether we will be able to move on an organizational change, I'm not sure, but I think it is something we will look at long and hard, and study and figure out what our options are," Johnson said.

McElhaney said it would be important for commissioners to continue to monitor the status of the unfinished eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway. He noted a majority of the commission favored the 32nd Street route north of the Wakarusa River.

"It's in the federal government's hands now, but we want them to know how we stand," McElhaney said, adding that the county's road department was ready to take on other trafficway-related road maintenance responsibilities.

McElhaney also expects the commission to continue what he called "a fantastic relationship" with its cities and townships.

"The County Commission is pretty accessible," he said. "We're all in this together."


yankeelady 10 years, 11 months ago

I thought one of the reasons for living in the county is to NOT be in the city. I'm thrilled to hear part of the new review process for county planning is to aid in annexation into the city at some point. Do they want all of Dougals county to be annexed into Lawrence? Time to move.

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