More work is ahead before new Land Development Code is ready for approval

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Members of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission discuss a draft revision of Lawrence's Land Development Code during the group's meeting on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

There’s still plenty of back-and-forth to come before new rules for how Lawrence ought to grow are ready for consideration and approval.

On Wednesday, members of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission were weighing whether now was the right time for them to “get into the weeds” with their questions about the revised Land Development Code; a consolidated draft of the development rules was released for public feedback earlier this month.

As the Journal-World has reported, changes of note in the new code include new zoning categories, changes to the types of infill residential development allowed in Lawrence and a shift from minimum to maximum parking requirements.

The Planning Commission will be the first stop in approving the new Land Development Code once a final draft is ready, and depending on how that back-and-forth shakes out, the finish line is either nearly within view or poised to move further away.

For at least the next two months, there will be multiple opportunities for both members of the Planning Commission and the steering committee that’s been guiding the revision process to discuss the draft in further detail. Both groups will meet in June and July, with no vote scheduled for either month.

“We’re working June, July as our angle at the moment, trying to figure out what that schedule backing out of it looks like, so that both the draft has time available for the public to review and comment on but also everybody has time to read it and digest it and to have questions to come back to it,” Jeff Crick, the city’s Planning & Development Services director, told the Planning Commission Wednesday. “We’re working it a little bit behind the scenes right now to make sure we get enough time built into the schedule for those (comments).”

But at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, a representative with the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association said that LAN wants a 90-day review period once a final draft is made available.

Phil Collison, while sharing public comment at Wednesday’s meeting, said that’s because the revised rules have been described as a “living document” that has frequently changed throughout the two-year revision process thus far, making it more difficult for neighborhood groups and others who want to participate to continuously comb through hundreds of pages to catch any new changes.

Members of the Planning Commission did engage in some discussion about Collison’s suggestion. Crick said that’s a consideration for the Land Development Code Update Steering Committee.

Elizabeth Garvin, a consultant with Clarion Associates working with that group to craft the new code, said the current draft is the right document for LAN to be examining thoroughly. Garvin said she’s “fairly confident” that the steering committee is now circling just a handful of issues — renewable energy, parking and density — affecting a smaller section of the code, rather than the entire document.

“I would say don’t wait,” Garvin said. “Ninety days is a very long time to keep a code open prior to adoption; that’s an unusual amount of time, particularly when a draft is posted now, so we’ll look to the steering committee to make a recommendation on that.”


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