Archive for Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City commissioners expected to debate proposal to allow stricter environmental regulations

June 7, 2011


It will be the natural environment versus the business environment at Lawrence City Hall today.

City commissioners at their weekly meeting are expected to debate a proposed addition to the city and county’s comprehensive plan that would allow for local environmental regulations that are more strict than federal and state rules.

Members of the city and county planning department are recommending approval of the new Environmental Chapter of Horizon 2020 as a way to “strive for the sustainability of our physical environment.” But two of the city’s largest business groups are urging commissioners to send the plan back for more study.

“If this gets approved, we think you’ll see a large amount of red tape and a large amount of restrictions on what and where you can build in this community,” said Luke Bell, director of governmental relations for the Lawrence Board of Realtors.

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce also is asking the city to send the plan back to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission for more study and more input from stakeholders.

The Environmental Chapter would not technically create new regulations, but instead would direct staff members to begin working on creating new codes for a variety of areas. Planning Director Scott McCullough said the chapter calls for entirely new policies to be created for 35 different environmental topics and for new rules to be added to 89 existing regulations.

McCullough listed six entirely new regulations that would be significant:

• Codes that would limit what type of development could occur near streams.

• Local protections for wetlands that would be in addition to the state and federal protections for wetlands.

• Regulations aimed to protect woodlands and urban forests.

• Ordinances that would protect undisturbed and undeveloped pieces of plant and wildlife habitat.

• Codes that would protect prime, agricultural soils from development.

• Regulations that would reduce the amount of mercury emitted by industrial producers.

“If you are a developer or someone looking to expand a business here, I think some of these things could throw up a red flag,” Bell said. “Certainly, when you look at communities that basically are our competitors, this is something much, much stronger than what they have on their books.”

But the chapter, which already has been approved by the Douglas County Commission on a 2-1 vote, has won support from environmental groups and the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters, who called the chapter an “invaluable” addition to the community’s planning efforts.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall.


50YearResident 6 years ago

Is this a "Back Door" veiled attempt to stop the South Lawrence Trafficway yet again?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"It will be the natural environment versus the business environment at Lawrence City Hall today."

No, it'll be short-term profits for short-sighted business interests vs. long-term interests in which a healthy, sustainable environment is indispensable.

jafs 6 years ago

Protecting the environment isn't about making it easier for developers/builders to build more houses.

lookandsee 6 years ago

The ICLEI and the agenda for the 21st century marches steadily along.

Bob Burton 6 years ago

Making Lawrence & Douglas County the place for new businesses to avoid!! Oh, the old businesses will now start looking for a new home also..

quimby 6 years ago

chad - your article title is inaccurate. the comp. plan is a policy guide, not law. way to get people riled up over something we should've had in place years ago and that will greatly benefit the health AND economic viability of our community (think of your favorite cities and towns - i bet they all have nice natural areas, parks and such).

to naysayers, take a look at some of the policies in nearby communities. stream setbacks and some of the other ordinances that MAY follow adoption of the comp. plan amendment are currently in place in communities such as Lenexa, KCMO, Overland Park, Platte County, etc... believe me - lawrence is just as, if not more so, developer-friendly than any of our neighboring communities and will continue to be w/ the comp. plan amendment in place.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years ago

Maybe we're not talking about the same title, but the one I'm reading now: "City commissioners expected to debate proposal to allow stricter environmental regulations" is accurate.

Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

quimby 6 years ago

Chad - I was pointing out that the CC is not debating 'stricter environmental regulations' right now, as they are looking at a comp. plan amendment. The comp. plan is policy (not law), while the city's Land Development Code includes the regulations... The comp. plan sets the stage for changes to the LDC, so in a round about way you're right (if the city decides to pursue LDC changes after the amendment passes), but I just wanted to clarify. Thanks.

BigPrune 6 years ago

The ECO2 people couldn't get their greenspace belt around Lawrence paid for by the citizens, so now they will restrict everyone's private property. It sounds like the virginal farmland run American Eagle out of town anti-SLT people are relentless in their pursuit for total control over the people. It sounds like Hitler's Germany.

If this passes, someone should anonymously buy some billboard space along I-70 that says, "Lawrence, Kansas CLOSED for business!"

I don't think I should have to get City approval if I want to cut down a tree on my property.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"It sounds like Hitler's Germany."

This is too idiotic to even call Godwin on.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

If new development does not pay for itself what's the point? This tired old argument about "red tape" is a way to manipulate. Laissez Faire government creates reckless tax and user fee increases.

Green wise KCMO metro is moving ahead of of Lawrence,Kansas. In fact some believe Manhattan,Ks is seriously out pacing Lawrence,Kansas.

Green regulations will more likely than not:

  1. save tax dollars for local taxpayers = cool green thinking

  2. halt reckless development in flood plains and wetlands

  3. will begin to take steps in dealing with environmental pollution which is causing Global Warming that which impacts our health thus increased health insurance costs and cost of foods.

4. Green buildings save energy thus reduces the cost of living and the cost of doing business = more saving of green dollars .

Builders are subject to regulations and "red tape" no matter where they are located. If these local thinkers know of a Laissez Faire government why are they still in Lawrence,Kansas?

Builders like to paint Lawrence as a terrible place to do business which of course is a lie. How do we know know this to be a lie? They are still in Lawrence,Kansas whining evermore loudly. They do not relocate because being laughed out of town would be much to humiliating.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Start by banning internal combustion lawn mowers. They are killing the planet. Anyone who doesn't already know that is dumb and irresponsible!!!!

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

"But two of the city’s largest business groups are urging commissioners to send the plan back for more study."

"The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce also is asking the city to send the plan back to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission for more study and more input from stakeholders. "

What they are saying is:

  1. we do not want this no matter how sensible,no matter how fiscally responsible and no matter how much it might reduce the cost of doing business on the long term.

  2. Additionally they in essence are asking for more time to discuss the issue with our local politicians behind closed doors.

  3. The real estate/building industry spent a lot of campaign bucks and they are expecting a big time payback on the special interest campaign money spent on the elections.

BigPrune 6 years ago

Is it true the Obama blue shirts are having a rally at the Buford Watson/Gigantic Emerging "Flower"/Old Train/Ice Skate Pond/Weed Infested (because nobody is picking the noxious weeds like promised) Park before the commission meeting, marching to City Hall, goose step training required?

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