Meeting will gather input on recommended changes to development code that determines how city grows

photo by: Jackson Barton

11th and Massachusetts St. is pictured in an aerial photo Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Consultants working to update the development code that determines where and how Lawrence grows have drafted a list of 80 recommended changes and are seeking public input on the proposal.

A community meeting will take place on Thursday to gather feedback on the recommended changes, which consultants with Clarion Associates developed following a four-month assessment of the code. The code assessment outlines issues with the current code and the main focus areas for the code changes, according to a project overview.

As part of the public meeting and a survey, the city is seeking feedback from residents and stakeholders regarding whether they agree with the focus areas and whether any additions should be made. The changes to the code will ultimately affect the setup of both residential and commercial districts and what types of developments and uses are allowed where.

The 80 recommended changes span the various sections of the existing code and also include general suggestions. Recommendations are made related to zoning districts, density regulations, and the procedures and processes for development. The code assessment report states that the list establishes a starting point for the code update, and that topics identified in the list, as well as new topics raised during the drafting process, will all be subject to further review and community discussion.

Below are some of the 80 recommendations included in the 62-page report. The complete list, as well as a more detailed description of each recommendation, is available as part of the code assessment report, which is available on the project website,

• Evaluate and expand allowances for residential use types, especially duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and small apartment buildings

• Eliminate outdated uses and add modernized uses and applicable standards for such uses as ghost kitchens, food trucks, communal workspaces, solar panels, tiny homes, and rooftop uses.

• Density and dimensional standards: Reconsider minimum lot area, minimum dwelling units per acre, and other dimensional standards such as setbacks, maximum building coverage, and maximum height standards to promote housing affordability and foster infill and redevelopment in the city

• Planned developments: Revise and streamline the planned development regulations and procedures

• Parking, loading and access: Evaluate minimum and maximum parking ratios, consider consolidating several parking schedules into one or two tables, and introduce automatic parking reductions when another transportation benefit is offered (e.g. proximity to transit)

• Landscaping and screening: Add preference for native or naturalized plant materials

• Development review procedures: Evaluate procedural requirements that are overly burdensome, inconsistent, and/or should not be required for certain applications.

• Base (zoning) districts: Evaluate the intended purpose and existing conditions of the residential districts to inform the carrying forward, consolidation, or addition of new districts, supplemented by adjustments to the density and dimensional standards, and .onsider reducing the overall number of zoning districts.

The code update will be broken into three components — districts and uses, development standards, and administration and procedures — and go through three drafts, according to the project overview. Each draft will go to the Land Development Code Update Steering Committee and the public for input, which will inform the subsequent draft. The final draft will ultimately go to the Planning Commission and City Commission for review and ultimate adoption.

The meeting will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the city’s planning and development services offices located in the Riverfront building, 1 Riverfront Plaza, Suite 320 (directly east of City Hall). The public may also add their comments to the code assessment report and complete a survey on the project website, Input should be provided by Feb. 15.


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