County leaders deny request to rezone 47 acres near city limits that would have allowed for residential development

photo by: Douglas County

A request, submitted by BG Consultants Inc. on behalf of Fairway LC, would have rezoned 47 acres, outlined in black, to accommodated a housing development with a density of four dwelling units per 20 acres and up to nine lots.

County leaders have denied a rezoning request that would have allowed nine homes to be built in a rural area near the Lawrence city limits.

As part of its Wednesday meeting, the Douglas County Commission voted unanimously to deny a request to rezone approximately 47 acres located in the 1400 block of East 900 Road from agricultural district to cluster preservation district to allow for the development. County commissioners shared the Planning Commission’s concern that the development plan for the area, which is just west of Kansas Highway 10, should be updated to align with the wider comprehensive plan before development goes forward.

Commissioner Patrick Kelly, noting the current housing shortage in Lawrence, said he appreciated it was tough for those trying to find housing, but that at this time he was not supportive of the request out of both a desire to protect the rural landscape and the need to update the West of K-10 Plan.

“This is going to be a tough pressure time as we figure out how to do this,” Kelly said.

The property is located northwest of the intersection of Clinton Parkway and K-10 and is within the Lawrence urban growth area. The request, submitted by BG Consultants Inc. on behalf of Fairway LC, would have accommodated a housing development with a density of four dwelling units per 20 acres and up to nine lots. David Hamby with BG Consultants told the commission he thought the development was a good fit because of the local need for housing and the proximity to city limits.

Planner Mary Miller said the West of K-10 plan, as currently laid out, calls for medium or high density but allows for lower density, and thus planning staff had recommended the request for approval. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward a recommendation for denial, citing concerns that the West of K-10 plan needed to be updated to align with the most recent comprehensive plan, Plan 2040; the difficulty of redeveloping larger lots for a higher density once the city’s boundaries expanded; as well as the loss of farmland and potential impact of septic systems on water quality given the proximity to Clinton Lake.

In other business, the commission:

• Voted unanimously to approve $666,206 in market and merit pay increases not originally included in the county’s 2021 budget, but that county staff recommended because revenue at the end of 2020 came in above budget expectations.

• Voted unanimously to adopt a joint resolution with the City of Lawrence to offer a formal apology to the Kaw Nation for appropriating and defacing the sacred rock In ́zhúje ́waxóbe and agreeing to its unconditional return.

• Voted unanimously to deny a request to rezone approximately 20 acres located in the southwest corner of the intersection of North 400 and East 2300 roads from agricultural district to transitional agricultural district, which would increase the number of houses allowed from one to two. Commissioners said in part that the transitional district was not meant to be a proxy to subdivide parcels, and that upcoming changes would make that clearer.

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