Comprehensive plan reviewed
The City Council and Baldwin City Planning Commission jointly discussed the city's comprehensive plan last Tuesday night, following the city's budget hearing.
City officials have been working on an update to the city's comprehensive plan for more than a year, and discussed suggested changes which were few.
"As you go through the updated document, there doesn't appear to be many changes from the existing document," said City Administrator Larry Paine.
The plan, which provides a general plan for the city's growth, is required to be reviewed every two years. The original comprehensive plan was adopted in 1996.
The changes made during the current review were done with the help of Eric Strauss, who works in the urban planning department at the University of Kansas.
One of the biggest changes to the plan is encouraging larger lot sizes in residential developments. Planning commissioners want to increase lot sizes from a minimum 60-foot frontage, to a 70-foot minimum frontage and from a 7,200 square-foot minimum to an 8,400 square-foot minimum.
"We don't have any space between houses," said City Council member Ted Brecheisen Jr., who also said he's like to see duplexes and apartments on larger lots as well. "From a fire standpoint, if a side of a house fell out, it would land on another. I would like to see us have more setback for a side yard."
Planning commissioners also are recommending wider streets in new developments.
Larry Francq, chairman of the planning commission, said developments with houses built on larger lots are more appealing and less demanding on the cities utilities.
"We are trying to control the density in developments, instead of having a developer come in and cram as many houses as he can," Francq said.
Strauss, who attended the meeting, said the planning commissioners may wish to amend his calculations of planning for around 12 new housing units a year, considering the city has issued more than 40 building permits so far this year.
"You are building three times as many houses," Strauss said.
Another of Strauss's suggestions is to consider the development of a community center.
Paine said the city would like to consider establishing an extra-territorial area around Baldwin that would require some developments to gain approval of Douglas County and Baldwin City.
"If someone wanted to develop a hog farm adjacent to the city limit, right now there is no way the city could constructively oppose that development," Paine said. "The county reviews it."
However, the city would have to review the application for the hog farm if it was located in an extra-territorial area. Rural subdivisions also would have to be reviewed by the city and county, but not an individual land owner building on acreage.
"The concern is for development that would tend to be urban," Paine said.
Once the review and changes to the comprehensive plan are completed, the planning commission will hold a public hearing and recommend it for approval to the City Council. The council also has to hold a public hearing on the plan. Paine does not expect the council to take any action on the plan until fall.
"It's designed to be a lot of steps," Paine said, because of offering opportunities for public participation.