Lawrence firm to help update city’s comprehensive plan
Tonganoxie City Council members decided Monday to enter into a contract with Strauss and Associates, a Lawrence-based law firm, to help the city update its comprehensive plan.
One stipulation remains, though. The council directed Chris Clark, city administrator, to check the firm|s references of work done on other city comprehensive plans. One of those plans included Eudora. After checking references, Clark has the authority to negotiate payment of the $10,000 project with Eric Strauss and Bill Carswell of Strauss and Associates.
"I think we need to have this done," said Janet Angell, council member.
At a special council meeting and work session Aug. 21, the mayor appointed an eight-member to complete the update of the city|s comprehensive plan.
The city already has completed half of the work required to update the plan. Strauss' bid was for $10,000, which compares to other bids reaching as high as $30,000.
"You've done a lot of the work in advance," Strauss told the council. "I believe you've completed 50 percent of the work."
Thus, Strauss and Associates bid the work at $10,000, which is half the cost of what they believe the project would be without the work the city has done.
The committee formed last week will still be a large part of the process, despite the contract with Strauss. Strauss will meet with committee members and other planning commission members not already on the committee two to four times a month.
The council decided to contract with Strauss and Associates to avoid possible legal problems that might result from updating the plan in-house. The council doesn|t want any gaps in the plan to exist.
"It bothers me considerably that some developer will come in and take advantage of any kind of loophole," said Linda Zacher, city planner. "We're also very much under the gun to finish the plan up by the end of the year. A plan for a city is much more extensive than a plan for a business."
The deadline for completion of the comprehensive plan is Dec. 31. Strauss plans to have the plan complete by Dec. 1 to allow the city plenty of time to approve the plan.
If the comprehensive plan has gone out of date or does not reflect the current development of the city, it violates state statute, Strauss said.
Mike Crow, city attorney, agreed that using the firm would eliminate potential problems.
Legally, you need a comprehensive plan, he said. There can be legal consequences if you do something contrary to the comprehensive plan. A number of cities| plans are not updated properly. They get backed up which causes legal consequences. You cannot arbitrarily ignore it once it|s in place.
The plan will be presented in a chapter by chapter format with maps, diagrams and statistics included. Along with updating the comprehensive plan, the city would like zoning ordinances to be simplified.
I am very pleased with what the council did this evening with the comprehensive plan, Mayor John Franiuk said. I feel that there will be a positive effect after tonight|s decision.