Douglas County Commission approves rezoning 67 Lone Star Lake properties, 2020 year-end budget amendment

photo by: Meeting screenshot/Douglas County Commission

Nearly 70 property lots surrounding Lone Star Lake are shown here highlighted in green. The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, approved rezoning those properties to the Lone Star Lake Lot Residential District, also known as LS, which moved those properties into compliance with county codes for the first time in decades.

Nearly 70 rural properties on Wednesday moved into compliance with Douglas County codes for the first time in decades.

The County Commission unanimously approved rezoning 67 properties located on Lone Star Lake’s western and southwestern banks from transitional agriculture, also known as Ag-2, to Lone Star Lake Lot Residential, also known as LS.

The rezoning was expected and formalizes the work the county did in recent years to address the properties’ nonconforming status. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky called the approval “house keeping” that will make the county’s work more efficient.

The commissioners considered the properties in one large batch because the county specifically created the LS district for those properties in its updated zoning regulations that were adopted earlier this year.

Planner Mary Miller told the commissioners most of the 67 properties were created in 1939, prior to the county using zoning districts. But when the county adopted zoning and codes for land use in 1966, the Lone Star Lake properties did not conform with the codes. That resulted in those property owners needing county-approved variances to make changes to their lots, such as new residential construction, Miller said.

By moving them all to the newly created LS district, they are now in compliance with the county codes for the first time since the 1966 codes were adopted.

Commission Chair Patrick Kelly said he was happy to finalize the rezoning, noting the county had received many variance requests from Lone Star Lake properties over the years.

“It just sort of cleans things up here and will make it easier down the road,” Kelly said.

The commissioners also approved a 2020 budget amendment to account for increased spending and revenue that was not reflected in the originally adopted budget, which was crafted in the summer of 2019.

The year-end budget amendment is standard practice for the county, which waits until the end of the budget’s cycle to make the changes that reflect unexpected increases in revenue that were not in the originally adopted budget. That revenue is often either spent during the budget’s cycle or transferred out to be moved to different fund accounts at a later date.

Plinsky said she plans to bring proposed year-end budget transfers for the commissioners to consider in January.

The amended budget included accounting for significant increased grant spending, with the vast majority representing the $24.9 million of CARES Act funding the county distributed throughout the community this fall. It also accounted for an increase in the county’s 1% sales tax revenue, increasing from the expected $7.2 million to $7.4 million.

The commissioners also heard from Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer, who reported the county has extended a contract with Northeastern University and American University researchers to conduct a law enforcement contact study. The six month extension, which was allowed under the original contract, cost the county $21,000.

The contact study began in early 2020, but has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension intends to help the researchers collect enough data for the study to be useful.

The meeting on Wednesday was the final County Commission meeting for 2020 because of upcoming holidays. The commissioners will meet next on January 6.

Contact Dylan Lysen

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