A committee has assessed the document that regulates how land is used and what can be built where in Lawrence. Now, members want feedback from the public to know how well that assessment reflects needed changes.
The city’s current land development code is based on a nearly quarter-century-old vision for the city, and it’s due for an update, local leaders decided last year. The city’s strategic plan, published in 2021, and an updated comprehensive plan, Plan 2040, are serving as guiding documents for the update to the code.
The project management team includes city staff, members of the Land Development Code Update Steering Committee who were appointed by the Lawrence City Commission, and consultants with Clarion Associates. City commissioners in April 2022 approved a contract with Clarion for $383,650. (Read more about the code, the process and the committee at this link.)
“The next community meeting will review the Code Assessment, which outlines the main focus areas of change from the current LDC, and will be the roadmap for the new LDC. We want to know… Do you agree with the topic areas? Is there anything that we missed?” meeting promotional materials ask.
Much of the assessment — like the code itself — is fairly technical, focusing on specific types of zoning and development standards. But the key goals of the code update are to improve user-friendliness of the document, establish simpler and consistent development procedures, and create more predictable outcomes.
In a section called “Special topics,” the assessment highlights the need for affordable housing — including housing that is affordable for most residents, as well as some housing with restrictions to be available to lower-income residents — as well as equity and sustainability.
“Approaches to and standards for all three of these topics are currently evolving quickly and the project team welcomes community and stakeholder input to help us identify the Lawrence way of accomplishing” those goals, the draft states.
Following feedback on the assessment, the work to draft the updated land development code will begin. The draft will be completed in three installments: Districts and Uses (February – April); Development Standards (May – July); and Administration and Procedures (August – October).
“The Code Assessment will not be revised following community input on the issues and options presented; instead, detailed drafting approaches and responses to community-based suggestions will be incorporated into the LDC drafting process and reflected in the follow-up discussion with each draft of the LDC,” according to the document. “Community input will be welcome throughout the project and will be requested as part of the project drafting milestones.”
Three key meetings coming up this week will focus on the assessment:
• Committee members will share an update and hear feedback from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. That meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 25) at City Hall. Check out the full meeting agenda at this link; the meeting will also be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel.
• The Land Development Code Steering Committee will meet from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, just before the public feedback meeting. Find the meeting agenda at this link; a link to register to join the meeting via Zoom was not functional as of Sunday afternoon.
• The public feedback meeting to discuss the code assessment is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 at 1 Riverfront Plaza, Suite 320.
“If you need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (such as sign language interpreter, an assistive listening device, or print material in digital format), contact the ADA Compliance Administrator as soon as possible, preferably three days before the activity or event,” according to the website. Visit lawrenceks.org/access for more information.
People can also leave comments on the assessment on a living version of the document, available at this link. There is also a brief survey below the assessment to provide general feedback. The deadline for public comments on this phase of the code assessment is Feb. 15. Questions or comments may also be directed to DevelopmentCodeUpdate@lawrenceks.org.