Neighbors inside the southwestern corner of the South Lawrence Trafficway are signing off on a sprawling land-use plan designed to guide the long-term future of 2,438 acres at the western edge of Lawrence.
Douglas County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the West of K-10 Plan, after three neighbors told them that the planning document for their property and others was the best they could hope for.
“I’m sold,” Commissioner Jim Flory said.
That’s because the plan’s last remaining area of contention — a 30-acre patch of property along East 902 Road, just north and east of the trafficway’s curve near the Clinton Lake dam — now stands as a testament to months of compromise, review and compromise yet again.
Some neighbors who live in the area had come into the process seeking different aims. Some wanted the area to be planned for commercial development, while others advocated for low-density residential construction.
The two sides’ arguments had been taken into consideration by planning staffers, then Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners, and then elected Lawrence and Douglas County commissioners before being sent back for review yet again.
The fifth draft of the plan finally made its way back to county commissioners Wednesday night, and neighbors who had been advocating for their respective sides each offered support for the ultimate compromise on the 30-acre patch:
• about half, to the west of East 902 Road, should be planned for high-density residential zoning, a designation that could accommodate a traditional apartment complex.
• about half, or east of East 902 Road, should be reserved for medium-density residential zoning; such a category could include four-plex homes.
“There is no perfect solution … (but) I believe this is the most reasonable approach,” said Francois Henriquez, who lives to the east, where the plan calls for “very low” density residential development.
“It’s not perfect, but I accept it,” said Mary Ann Hoffmann, who lives farther west, where the plan calls for low-density residential development.
“We’re just kind of ready to move on,” said Kristel Lewis, who lives farther west, along East 902 Road, and had sought higher-density development.
County commissioners thanked the neighbors for working toward a compromise, and lauded the work of Dan Warner, a city-county long-range planner, in compiling a plan that would best meet the needs of all parties involved.
Then commissioners reminded everyone that the plan still needs approval from the Lawrence City Commission to become part of Horizon 2020, the community’s official comprehensive plan that governs development.
“One more meeting,” Flory said.
In other action, commissioners agreed to conduct a public hearing July 13 to consider allowing the Lawrence City Commission to annex the site of the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant at the city’s southeastern edge.
On Monday, county commissioners had scheduled the hearing for July 15.