As urban sprawl has crawled across county borders, especially in some counties surrounding Lexington, a regional land use initiative is soliciting support from central Kentucky counties.

Bluegrass Tomorrow President Rob Rumpke asked the Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission last week for their support of a plan that would develop land use principles.  

“The main purpose of this process is to raise awareness of key land use related issues and discuss those issues as a region and not as individual counties,” Rumpke said.

Scott County Planning Director Joe Kane said Bluegrass Tomorrow has been working on improving communication on land-use areas.

“The restrictions in urban surface boundaries in Lexington are pushing development out into other counties and farmland,” he said. “It has been useful in bringing all the planners in the region together. There’s a lot of potential and it could take on some of the land use oversight and communication.”

Rumpke showed a map indicating prime agricultural soils in Scott County, although northern parts of the county are not quite as prime. He also said these are the areas that are growing quickly.

“American Farmland Trust recently released a study that showed Kentucky lost 499,000 acres of farmland to low density housing,” Rumpke said. “We are on the World Monuments Watch List to protect the landscape. Scott County is one of those counties with high quality farmland and high development.”

The planning meetings came up with principles of agreement that include a fundamental need for responsible land use planning in the Bluegrass region, preserving agricultural lands and limiting sprawl and better communication.

Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather was very verbal about the Bluegrass Stockyards and not being consulted that it was over the Royal Spring Aquifier and if anyone looked at that, Rumpke said.

The next step is creating momentum by having counties sign off and support the resolution, including city and county governments, he said.

“We are not saying no new roads or development, but do it responsibly,” Rumpke said.

Planning commissioners liked the resolution, but hesitated offering endorsement.

“As I have read through this land use resolution, I kept circling things,” Chair Mark Sulski said, noting some language that implied laws and regulations. “So I’m not sure what you are looking for.”

Rumpke and Kane both said it didn’t have to be approved (last) Thursday, and Rumpke said it would be “wordsmithed,” and they were looking for approval that this was a good idea conceptually.

Commissioner Steve Smith said Woodford, Bourbon and Fayette counties drew a line and that is why Scott and Madison are the fastest growing counties.

The commissioners agreed to continue studying the resolution to consider later.

The commission also held a public hearing on a zone change request for 2.35 acres in Ashton Grove from R-2 PUD to B-4 located on the south side of McClelland Circle and Bevins Lane. The property under discussion is in the new senior living complex being built across from Kroger.

The original application included some commercial space but dropped it, Kane said. Now the developers would like to add commercial zoning back in.

“The land is in an area that is planned office/retail/restaurant space. It could include medical offices, which they have indicated is what they would like it to be. But it could include some retail or restaurants,” he said.

Commissioner Charles Mifflin asked if the developers will develop the property or sell it, and the developers said it would be owned by the same ownership. Property owners in neighboring homes expressed concerns over what will go in the commercial spaces and communicated they want to stay informed and work with the developers.

“This is a sensitive area for us and the neighbors,” said Jack Lucks, one of the owners. “This is the largest project we have done as retirement centers. Whatever we put there we are enormously sensitive it has good architecture and protects our neighbors.

“We have the most at stake to make sure this is really nice. We don’t know who the customer is, but it is critical to know what they are planning for us and you all.”

Bob Griffin, a neighbor, said their concern is that the potential zone change will create an environment that is not as peaceful and quiet as they had been told.

“If it is allowed to go to too far we will find ourselves with a situation with a lot of noise late at night,” he said. “From preliminary meetings with these folks, we want to make sure we are on the same page.”

Sulski asked if a restaurant that would be open until 2 a.m. could go in and could the commission require that be a deed requirement. Attorney Charlie Perkins said the commission could ask the developers to include such a stipulation.

“We have cottages there, and we don’t want to have a nightclub there. Our residents are 85 years old and they don’t want to have 25 year olds speeding in and out too,” said Karl Schneider, also with the developers, adding it will be two years to develop the property and will continue conversations with the neighbors.

The zoning change was approved.

The commission also approved a zoning ordinance amendment affecting outdoor storage and display and commercial zero lot lines.

“It would affect new commercial development that wants to build right to the property line except for downtown,” Kane said. “In new commercial areas, you can’t build right to the property line unless you own both sides. It is meant to address not allowing people to build right to a neighbor’s property to build and maintain the building.

The change also affected outside storage and sales.

“It allows outdoor display for sales as a permitted right for businesses, but outdoor storage of raw materials would need a conditional use permit,” Kane said. “It makes it uniform across all zones.”

The commission approved on consent:

— Dividing one tract into five tracts, creating a 9.279-acre tract, a 12.714-acre tract, a 7.705-acre tract, a 10.045-acre tract and a 10.628-acre tract  located at 3701 Paris Pike

— A preliminary development plan for a 50,000-square foot building for Ecofibre Kentucky at 190 Corporate Boulevard

— A final subdivision plat to subdivide a 5.64-acre lot from a parent tract of 18.97 acres at 815 Locust Fork Road (the Chavers Property)

— Preliminary subdivision plat to create a 1.045-acre lot and a .757-acre lot at 109 Marketplace Circle

Steve McClain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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