Douglas County commissioners Wednesday evening voted to send the Northeast Sector Plan back to the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission for further consideration and discussion.
The decision came after continued public discussion from members of the effected community, which includes North Lawrence and Grant Township residents. About two hours of deliberation resulted in a decision to deny the inclusion of the comprehensive site plan in Horizon 2020 for the time being and send it back to planning. County Commissioners Mike Gaughan and Nancy Thellman both voted in opposition of the plan while commissioner Jim Flory was the sole member in favor of moving forward with a plan designed to further develop the area. Flory argued that the plan did not guarantee the use and development of the land but simply allowed the opportunity for it.
Gaughan and Thellman cited different reasons for their decisions. Thellman’s concerns were for public safety in regard to potential stormwater and flood risks for the community. Gaughan opposed the plan because of resource priorities and unknown costs that he said could negatively affect both city and county finances.
“What’s really at stake here is are we going to spend the zero to $40 million for a drainage system,” Gaughan said.
A dozen area residents spoke about their concerns or compliments regarding the issue. Barbara Clark, a Grant Township resident, said she was concerned that businesses that may come to the area would not be able to effectively develop the land because of drainage and stormwater issues.
“It will be a Siren’s call to development,” she said. “If we entice them, we are putting before them some possibly insurmountable hurdles.”
County commissioners said they wanted more options in regard to resource preservation and priority as well as more information concerning the drainage system for the suggested development area.
The plan will be run by the City Commission for additional input before it returns to the planning commission for further consideration.