Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Planners studying different visions for Johnson County’s rural future

December 6, 2001

Johnson County would either grow to a population of 1 million or see its cities largely confined to their present limits under competing proposals unveiled at De Soto High School Monday.

The vastly different visions are scenarios being considered as the county works to update its comprehensive plan, County Planning Director Roger Kroh explained. When a draft document of that plan is ready for public review in March it will likely be a synthesis of four scenarios have been developed over the past six months, he said.

Kroh said the comprehensive plan update process has included county staff, consultants and residents.

The final draft will not include a large area south of De Soto regulated by the Sunflower land-use plan approved by the county commission in 1998.

That so-called Community in a Park Sunflower land-use plan calls for future residential, commercial and light industrial development of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. Single-family and multi-family housing would provide for a population of 25,000. The plan also restricts development adjacent to Sunflower south to 151st Street and from the county line to Waverly Road to 10-acre single-family development.

HTNB consultant Uri Avin explained all four scenarios presented Monday assume the county will add 180,000 people, 57,000 jobs and 72,000 homes in the next 20 years.

The four scenarios form a continuum from the county's current plan that assumes city's will eventually annex the entire county and one that would limit future annexations to a relatively small areas adjacent to cities.

The four scenarios presented included:

Continuation of the current comprehensive plan under which the county would eventually have a population of 1 million. The growth would produce demand for roads, schools and other infrastructure. It assumes the sewers will eventually serve the entire county.

The urban reserve plan, which would limit development to 10- to 20-acre lots unless development is regulated with a joint city/county planning area, such as the K-10 overlay district in southern De Soto. Avin explained the scenario is much like the current comprehensive plan and is designed to discourage premature development.

The exurban development plan that permits two kinds of development in the unincorporated area. In urban reserves near cities, development would be limited to 10- to 20-acre lots that could be subdivided in the future, therefor preserving land for future urban growth. Further out, development of two- to five-acre lots served by septics would be permitted. Avin said the smaller lot size would create a demand for roads and other services but would discourage urbanization because city's would find it uneconomical to annex lot sizes that large.

Conservation development plan that preserves all current unincorporated areas by requiring development on 10-acre to 20-acre "estates." Avin said it was the most restrictive plan proposed.

Each vision has its advocates, Avin said.

"A resident of the unincorporated area might want to restrict development to preserve the rural lifestyle. A developer might want to see houses as far as you can see," he said.

Those attending the workshop were encouraged to complete questionnaires that will be used as the comprehensive plan update enters its next phase, Avin said. Over the next few months, county planners will further test each scenario as the attempt to produce a draft recommendation. That draft could be a synthesis of the scenarios presented Monday, he said.

Kroh said the draft recommendation should be finished in March, at which time the county will schedule another public workshop. Public comment from that workshop will be used to develop the final draft.

The approval process will begin when the planning commission is presented the proposed update's final draft in April. Kroh said the planning commission is required to have one public hearing but predicts there will be more on the important issue.

The planning commission will make its final recommendation to the county commission in June. The county commission will begin deliberation in July.

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