Letter to the Times: City of Lawrence should take caution when considering zoning changes

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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The City of Lawrence is working on a new Land Development Code. One of the focus areas seems to be increasing density in neighborhoods throughout the city. Many of these neighborhoods are already well established and provide many living opportunities including rental and owner-occupied single dwelling units, commonly known as houses. 

Many core neighborhoods have smaller, more affordable housing. There are small bungalows, and one-, two- and three-bedroom homes that are within a lower price range for first-time home owners. Unfortunately the recent closing of some core neighborhood schools may make these areas less desirable. Caution should be made in changing our development codes to allow for density increases that may ultimately bring more harm to neighborhoods, increasing housing prices and driving existing families and homeowners out of their neighborhoods.

Zoning changes are being considered that would allow duplexes in all neighborhoods. The new code may also suggest lowering parking requirements for some infill developments. More cars would then be parking on our public streets instead of parking on private property. 

Having lived in the Oread Neighborhood for more than 25 years, I have had firsthand experience in economic opportunities afforded developers and landlords who build or expand modest size houses into larger units. Duplexes with four bedrooms in each half mean that eight individuals can live in that duplex. Parking requirements for duplexes are lower than for apartments. Note the photos of duplexes recently built in Oread. These are not affordable housing units. Duplexes built for families, not student housing, are much smaller.

Careful planning decisions must be made to allow for a proper balance of living opportunities that promote healthy, safe and affordable neighborhoods.

— Candice Davis, Oread Resident

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