Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2007

County land-use guide being revised

July 12, 2007

A new committee is working on a plan that will guide what many feel will be an explosion of future development in Leavenworth County.

"The thing Leavenworth County has is a clean slate at this point," said Diane Binckley, senior planner with with Ochsner, Hare and Hare, a planning, landscape and architectural firm from Kansas City, Mo., assisting the county-appointed committee. "They're being proactive rather than reactive by starting with a plan now. They realize development's coming, and they're laying the groundwork for the future now."

The Comprehensive Planning Committee, a supplemental panel to the Leavenworth County Planning Commission, has been conducting meetings during the past two months and is scheduled to draft a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan by summer 2008.

The most recent comprehensive plan was drawn up in 2001.

In developing the long-term plan for the face of the county, the panel must determine how to facilitate future businesses and homes that come to the area and where they might go.

"We all have very different agendas," committee chair Sabrina Darley said about group members that range from agriculturists, a teacher, a bank president and a real estate broker. "Our main goal is to assure that Leavenworth County develops as conservatively -- but as aggressively -- as possible."

"(The comprehensive plan) is an attempt to find a consensus of how people want the community to grow and to put in at the local government level that consensus," Planning and Zoning Director Chris Dunn said. "Ultimately the market will determine where growth will occur, but also the market prefers a well-thought-out master land-use plan."

The first step by the committee was to hire the Ochsner, Hare and Hare consultants to help with the 20-year plan. The firm will be paid $50,000.

Dunn said that the firm's expertise has given the committee a good idea of how plans have been designed and put into practice in other comparative communities.

"We're really not involved in the day-to-day activities of the county, so we have a fresh perspective when going to local stakeholders," Binckley said.

The panel is now starting to form focus groups for each of the committee's six specific goals: economic development, transportation, parks and recreation, housing, land use and growth management.

Darley said that she's excited and challenged by being a part of such a resident-driven committee.

"A challenge is just a powerful motivator," she said. "You work as fast as you can to get past the obstacles and get to the top."

For Binckley, the most important goal is that a comprehensive plan must be "a workable, useable plan that can be implemented easily."

"We don't want to create something that can't happen," she said.

Dunn emphasized that residents interested in having their opinion heard should contact the Planning and Zoning Department.

"If anyone's got a point they're dying to get out, we'll make sure the committee gets it," Dunn said.

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