Council annexes Camco property on Big Sink Pike
In a special meeting on Monday, the Versailles City Council unanimously passed an ordinance annexing and rezoning nearly 67 acres on Big Sink Road for the site of More Than A Bakery. Vacationing council member Ken Kerkhoff appeared via Skype. The measure was unanimously endorsed by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission March 10, and changes the land's zoning from agricultural to light industrial. Council chambers were nearly full Monday and for last Thursday's special council meeting, during which the ordinance received a first reading. Most attendees were opponents of the annexation and zone change, and many of them had expressed their feelings about the plan in oral or written statements at the Planning Commission hearing. More Than A Bakery will make crackers and other snack-type items and plans to employ more than 300 people by the end of 2017. After the first reading Thursday, Versailles City Attorney Bill Moore briefed the council about the ordinance and their own rules for a special meeting. "Whenever you're acting on a zone change application, you're acting like judges, not like legislators like you do in everything else. And a judge has to make a decision based on the record of the proceeding," Moore said. "You don't have to rely solely on that record in making your decisions, but if you're going to rely on any other information, it needs to be in a record that you would develop." At last Thursday's meeting, council members (all were present except Ken Kerkhoff) were given a stack of documents several inches high with letters and testimony from the Planning Commission hearing. Moore told them they could hold their own public hearing, accept the Planning Commission's findings and recommendations, or develop their own. Monday, no council members asked for a public hearing and none disagreed with the Planning Commission's findings. Their vote after the second reading Monday was taken without comment from opponents like Donna McKnight, who's lived in the nearby Stonegate Subdivision for 15 years. "Big Sink Road is a county road . and right now, we have traffic that's coming in Big Sink from the farms, we have an entrance from the factories as they stand now, plus Stonegate," McKnight said Thursday. "Now we're looking at 200-575 more cars on that little 1.9-mile stretch of road from the (U.S. 60) Bypass to the entrance where their employees are going to come and go, and that's an immense amount of traffic." Williams Lane resident Amy Bailey said she believed Richmond Baking, the parent company of More Than A Bakery, didn't do enough homework on the nature of the land. "They don't understand this cave system we have underground, and I am telling you, water collects around here and it doesn't move for four to eight weeks," Bailey said. Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) chairman John Soper said previously that the EDA paid $15,000 for more than 50 core sample borings, the results of which were given to the company. Williams Lane resident Lori Fusting said she wasn't reassured by planned retention and detention ponds on the property, which will feature two parking lots and a 10-acre building. "So that may slow the water down, but it's eventually still going to get back to that water table that lays all the way behind the back of Williams Lane, because that's the main water table where all the geese and water fowl and ducks and birds and fish from the fishing lake - that's where they all go," Fusting said. "The biggest problem we have today is that the more land you cover up with blacktop and houses and factories, the quicker the water runs off ." said former Woodford County Magistrate Bobby Gaffney. (Gaffney later said that he and his wife built the nearby Homestead and Homestead Estates subdivisions.) Gaffney and others said they were also concerned about other sorts of pollution the factory may cause: extra light, noise and odors. "We own an expensive piece of property right across the road, and everybody's house is an expensive piece of property to them, and we don't want their piece of property devalued, too," Gaffney said. "We're not against 300 jobs coming to Woodford County. I've run for judge (Woodford judge-executive, in 2014). I want jobs to come to Woodford County. But I tell you, and I told them (the Planning Commission), the Edgewood Farm is coming into existence. This is a 10-acre building. This building would fit on the Edgewood Farm much better with those type of bigger buildings they would build over there." Council member Carl Ellis made the motion for the vote after the second reading. After the vote, he said evidence from the Planning Commission hearing made it clear that the company still had several state and local hurdles to clear before construction could begin. Note: After the meeting, Mayor Brian Traugott passed out fliers from the company inviting people to a public meeting Friday, April 1, at 1:04 p.m. in the third floor courtroom of the Woodford County Courthouse. "We believe that the more ideas that can be brought forth and discussed, the better. ." wrote company president Bill Quigg.