Lexington Road site ‘natural place to grow,’ mayor says
Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott says he’s excited about a proposed mixed-use development on Lexington Road, which would provide large parcels of land for new retail businesses and workplace opportunities for residents. The 407-acre site is located east of the Kroger Marketplace shopping center, which Traugott described as “the natural place to grow.” He said the success of the new Kroger shopping center laid the groundwork for sparking interest in nearby properties, including the Edgewood Farm property at 1450 Lexington Road. In an application to rezone the property and amend the Comprehensive Plan in order to expand the Versailles urban service boundary to include this site, developer CRM Companies of Lexington stated “This plan will allow for additional ‘destination’ businesses such as Lowes or Home Depot … This parcel would of course also be attractive to major retailers, such as Target and Walmart…” Traugott, who has been skeptical in the past about being able to attract a Target to Versailles, said he’d be “pleasantly surprised” if the retailer opened a store here. On the other hand, he also said, “I know that the developer has a relationship with a lot of retailers.” Large parcels of the proposed development “will be devoted to a new hospital location, to replace the aging facility in Versailles…,” according to the application statement from CRM Companies. In December, hospital CEO Tommy Haggard said Bluegrass Community Hospital had begun exploring the possibility of a move to a new facility. “Parts of our existing facility date back to the early 1900s,” Haggard said in his December statement to The Woodford Sun. “While it has served our community well, we welcome the opportunity to explore a new, modernized facility that will better meet the dynamic healthcare needs of our community.” He said a project planning team would explore possible sites. In a follow-up email on Monday afternoon, Haggard said there were “many things that must occur before we can be sure of a new hospital. However, we have spoken with the property developer and would be very interested in that property if the appropriate zoning is approved and all other required aspects of the property meet specifications.” Traugott described a new hospital with modernized medical services for residents as “a huge boon to the community.” “I don’t know another suitable location for the hospital that would meet their business model and provide the area they need,” Traugott said. He said he’s especially excited about the request to rezone 118.74 acres for industrial uses. “The industrial component will provide a much more diverse tax base (for the City of Versailles), which is what we need,” he said. “We have a low unemployment rate in Woodford County, but we have a lot of our people who travel to manufacturing facilities in Frankfort or Lawrenceburg or Lexington or Georgetown to work.” In addition to the industrial land, a preliminary development plan proposes 93.52 acres for single-family residential, 68.81 acres for high-density residential, 96.62 acres for highway business and 28.96 acres for professional office. The Versailles City Council passed an ordinance in August of last year stating its intent to annex 336 acres at 1450 Lexington Road, while also directing the Planning Commission to have a public hearing in order to amend the Comprehensive Plan, which would allow the property annexation to proceed. The western-most edge of the Lexington Road property (adjacent to Crossfield Drive) is already inside the Versailles urban service boundary and within the city limits. During a recent Technical Review Committee (TRC) meeting, county Engineer Buan Smith said his biggest concern with the mixed-use development plan relates to how storm water runoff from the Lexington Road site would impact areas downstream, including Big Sink Pike. “Even without anything constructed there in the past there have been incidents where water has gotten up over the road,” said Smith. “Because there is such a long underground cavern that carries the water away, in some cases it takes weeks to drain. “I know you can hold back how fast the water gets there. But it’s the volume part of it all that really is more concerning…” A representative for the property developer told members of TRC that he hopes to have the development plan ready for the regular February meeting of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor of the Woodford County Courthouse on Thursday, Feb. 11. The property developer has until noon on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to submit a revised plan correcting deficiencies outlined in the TRC meeting in order for a public hearing to be held on Feb. 11. Woodford Forward – a group of citizens and business owners that advocate for innovative policies that promote the highest and best use of urban land and the agricultural use of productive farmland in Woodford County – will wait until the final drawings have been submitted and “fully examine those drawings” before releasing a position-statement on development plan, said Billy F. Van Pelt II, CEO of Woodford Forward.