Douglas County Commission to consider comprehensive plan amendment to allow rural property owner to subdivide land

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

Douglas County may soon make changes to its comprehensive plan to allow for a rural property owner to subdivide his land for residential purposes.

The County Commission on Wednesday will consider an amendment to Plan 2040, its joint comprehensive plan with the City of Lawrence, to change the allowed land uses under the plan’s subsection for the K-10 and Farmer’s Turnpike area. The amendment would allow for residential development on the northwest corner of the intersection of North 1800 and East 1200 roads, which is currently only allowed for office and research development under the K-10 and Farmer’s Turnpike Plan.

The commission directed county staff to begin working on the amendment in May after it deferred taking action on property owner Anthony Fanello’s appeal to allow him to subdivide 28 acres of land at the corner of North 1800 Road and East 1200 Road.

County staff had denied his application because the property is zoned for office or research use, not for residential development. The land is directly north of Lawrence and just west of an industrial district that includes Berry Global and the Kmart distribution center.

N 1800 Rd & E 1200 Rd, Wakarusa, KS 66049

During the May 6 meeting, the commissioners said they wanted to allow Fanello to subdivide the land, but they did not want to uphold the appeal, because doing so would mean the commissioners were saying staff was wrong in denying the application based on the county’s land-use regulations, which it had followed correctly.

Instead, the commission asked staff to write an amendment for the land-use regulations that applies specifically to Fanello’s property and will eventually allow him to subdivide the land. Commissioner Michelle Derusseau said at the time the amendment was appropriate because she believed the regulations calling for office and research uses in that area might be outdated.

“At least the residential (plan) fits the character of that area much better than industrial, office and storage space,” she said.

Because the comprehensive plan is a joint document between the county and the City of Lawrence, the Lawrence City Commission will also need to approve the amendment before it becomes final.

In other business, the commissioners will consider a petition for rural properties to be annexed into Rural Water District No. 4. Several owners of the properties in the area had requested that the water district annex their properties.

The properties are located along East 1550 Road, south of North 1175 Road. The general area is just south of the Lawrence city limits. Five of the six property owners in the area have signed the petition asking to be annexed, which is more than the 50% of landowners needed, according to a memo to the commissioners.

E 1550 Rd & N 1175 Rd, Wakarusa, KS 66046

The board will also consider setting the pay ranges for the staff of the newly created Consolidated Fire District No. 1, which will begin operating on Jan. 1. According to a memo to commissioners, the proposed pay ranges include a $80,000-$120,000 range for the chief of the district and $32,000-$48,000 for a firefighter, among other positions.

The item is listed in the meeting’s consent agenda, which allows the commissioners to consider and approve several items at once unless a commissioner or a member of the public requests that the item be pulled for further discussion.

The County Commission will convene Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be open to the walk-in public at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., but a link for the public to watch live online is available on the county’s website, Residents may also call in and listen by phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering meeting ID 993 6550 4956.

Full audio from the meeting will continue to be posted on the county’s website, as usual. The meeting’s full agenda may also be found on the county’s website.

Contact Dylan Lysen

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