A 67-acre plot of rural property on the northwestern edge of Lawrence was approved for annexation into the city of Lawrence during Wednesday’s Douglas County Commission meeting.
The decision came after several weeks of public comment that heard arguments both for and against the proposal, which may help property owners market the land to developers, bringing jobs and additional revenue to the city and county.
Commissioners Jim Flory and Mike Gaughan both voiced support of the annexation, saying they didn’t believe the land’s future would be a hindrance to the area’s proper growth and development.
The proposal was approved 2-1, with Commissioner Nancy Thellman alone in opposition.
The parcel of land will still need to be rezoned before it is cleared for industrial use.
Commissioners Wednesday also approved the 2012 county budget, which includes no increase to the mill levy.
Flory said he wanted to include more financial incentives for county employees in the form of a funding pool for performance awards. His views were not supported by Gaughan or Thellman, who agreed heritage preservation funding was a better investment for the future of the community.
County employees will receive a 1 percent cost-of-living raise under the approved budget, a move commissioners were glad they were able to make.
“Providing something to our county employees during these difficult times is a good investment,” Gaughan said. “I wish we could do more.”
The budget was approved unanimously, but not without acknowledgment that the years ahead may not be any easier. Flory noted that the commission was able to fund several programs by spending funds set aside for a digital radio transition mandated by the federal government.
“I think we need to take our medicine now and start getting that funded,” Flory said.
The approval Wednesday marked the end of the months-long process. Commissioners will not meet next week.