Douglas County Commission approves comprehensive plan amendment that allows rural property owner to subdivide land

photo by: Meeting screenshot/Douglas County Commission

In a map provided to the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, a proposed amendment to the county's comprehensive plan shows how property owned by Anthony Fanello would be changed from land allowed to be used as research and office space to land allowed to be used for residential development.

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday kickstarted the process to amend part of its comprehensive plan to allow for a single property to subdivide its land.

The commissioners voted 2-1 to approve 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. It will now be sent to the Lawrence City Commission, which must also approve the amendment for it to be final.


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

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 permitted 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, which is directly north of Lawrence and just west of an industrial district that includes Berry Global and the Kmart distribution center.

The County Commission’s approval on Wednesday overrode a recommendation for the Lawrence Douglas-County Planning Commission, which suggested denying the amendment. Planner Mary Miller told the commissioners the Planning Commission believed the county should consider an update of the entire K-10 and Farmer’s Turnpike Plan, rather than just an amendment for Fanello’s property.

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

Commissioner Nancy Thellman voted against the amendment because of the Planning Commission’s recommendation, which followed the county’s current comprehensive plan. She also said she feared it would set a precedent for more amendment requests.

But Commission Chair Patrick Kelly and Commissioner Michelle Derusseau said Fanello has been working to develop the land for more than a year and they worried about making him wait even longer. Miller had told the commissioners that reworking the entire plan could take another year.

“It worries me that we’re … still wanting to hold up a project because something may need to be changed, because it does need to be revisited, and it’s outdated,” Derusseau said, referring to the K-10 and Farmer’s Turnpike Plan. “I’m ready to move forward on this, and it’s a project that’s ready to go. It fits now. and I think in 20 years it’s still going to fit,” she added.

In other business, the commissioners allowed six rural properties to be annexed into Rural Water District No. 4 and approved pay ranges for the staff of the newly created Consolidated Fire District No. 1, which will begin operation on Jan. 1.

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