Douglas County Commission to consider request to divide rural property; more discussion of proposed budget also on agenda

photo by: August Rudisell

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in this contributed photo from June 2020.

Douglas County leaders will soon consider a request to rezone 25 acres currently zoned for agricultural use into residential lots.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider the request from property owners Patrick Halpin and Erin Callahan-Halpin to rezone 25 acres at 981 East 1549 Road, roughly 3 miles south of Lawrence, from its current agricultural zoning to a cluster preservation district that would allow it to be divided into up to five residential lots, according to a planning report.

The commission discussed the rezoning request last month but did not vote on it. As the Journal-World reported, planning staff has recommended the rezoning request for approval because the plan generally conforms to the joint city-county comprehensive plan and residential housing is compatible with the surrounding land uses in that area. However, during a planning meeting in May, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission voted 6-2 to recommend that the County Commission deny the request. Some of the planning commissioners were concerned that the landowners’ request would conflict with the comprehensive plan’s goals of maintaining open spaces and curbing residential growth in rural parts of the county.

In other business, the commission will have a chance to ask questions about the county’s proposed budget. Earlier this month, county commissioners tentatively agreed on a 2022 budget that would increase the property tax rate by about 1 mill, which would result in the owner of a $200,000 home paying about $23 more a year in taxes. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said that there would not be a formal review of the proposed budget on Wednesday, but that commissioners would have an opportunity to ask questions about it. County spokesperson Karrey Britt said the public budget hearing is not yet scheduled but will likely be in mid- to late August.

The commission will also consider a request from Kansas Holistic Defenders. The county is considering providing funding to the organization as part of its 2022 budget and organization leaders are asking the county to formalize the proposed partnership for the purposes of a grant application.


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