A proposed plan to shore up the ever-changing Oread neighborhood is set to enter a new phase at Lawrence City Hall.
Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are expected to officially ask the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission to begin weighing in on how the neighborhood near the university should develop in the future.
“We’re looking for guidelines that speak to how development and redevelopment occurs in the future and how to keep the character of the neighborhood people enjoy” said Scott McCullough, planning director for the city.
Since the beginning of the year, the city’s planning staff has been working with an outside consultant to develop a draft set of guidelines for how specific areas of the Oread neighborhood should develop.
City officials don’t yet have the draft guidelines, but the document is expected to be ready for staff review by the end of August. In some cases, the guidelines will cover specific details such as the slope of roofs, the number of windows new structures must have, setback distances from the street and other design issues, McCullough said.
“We think the guidelines will help preserve the character and enhance the character of the neighborhood,” McCullough said.
On Tuesday, city commissioners won’t be asked to make any decisions about specific guidelines. Instead, they’ll formally start a process for the Planning Commission and the Historic Resources Commission to hold public hearings on the new regulations. McCullough said that city commissioners likely won’t be asked to make a final decision on the new regulations until next year. Commissioners, though, already have approved a basic groundwork for the new regulations.
Commissioners in late 2010 approved the Oread Neighborhood Plan, which calls for splitting the neighborhood into five districts. Planners are now ready to create the specific regulations that will guide each district. The districts are:
• A low-density residential district generally north of Memorial Stadium.
• A high-density residential district that runs along portions of Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio and Louisiana streets.
• A medium-density residential district that largely runs along the eastern edge of the Oread neighborhood and includes properties on parts of Vermont, Kentucky, 12th and 13th streets.
• The Hancock Historic District, which includes a small area between Louisiana and Mississippi streets just east of the football stadium.
• The Oread Historic District, which includes properties along Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio streets generally north of 11th Street.
The future guidelines have been the subject of significant interest from residents and developers in the neighborhood as more old homes have been converted into boarding houses and as several new projects, like The Oread hotel and the Varsity House apartment complex, have been built in the neighborhood.
“So far our group has been fine with what has been proposed,” said Rob Farha, president of the Oread Neighborhood Association, which includes several landlords who want to ensure existing multifamily properties aren’t at risk of being downzoned. McCullough said he doesn’t expect any properties to have their existing uses changed as a result of the new regulations but said properties may have to meet certain design guidelines for those uses as the property redevelops in the future.
City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.