• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Proposed developments may affect schools

HOMES ARE BEING BUILT in the Cedar Ridge and Rose Ridge subdivisions, but few other platted lots are available for home construction in other neighborhoods in Woodford County. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

A proposed mixed-use neighborhood on Lexington Road with 255 residential units has the potential to bring an influx of new families and school-age children into Versailles. The request to rezone 62.92 acres at 2101 Lexington Road (historically known as the Backer property) from A-1 (agricultural) to R-1C (residential): planned unit development is scheduled to come before the Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing tonight, Thursday, April 14. In a letter to Planning Director Pattie Wilson, Woodford County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins offered his thoughts on two possible scenarios. ".Should the new development primarily cause a population shift within the county, we have adequate space in our buildings to easily accommodate people residing in this area. However, should the development cause an influx of new families moving into the community, we would have a difficult time housing the number of projected new students in our current facilities." In a telephone interview, Hawkins pointed out that residential development (Woodford Place/owner 2101, LLC: Trey Schott, member) will not occur immediately and that it could take several years before those 200-plus residential units are actually built. He also acknowledged that a residential development of the size being proposed "could create a burden for us, absolutely. .[I]f every unit had one kid and we picked up an extra 255 kids, it would put a burden on some spots in our district." The Woodford County Board of Education approved a redistricting plan last April in order to reduce the student enrollment at Huntertown Elementary (down about 105 from last year) and increase student enrollment at Northside Elementary. The plan accomplished both goals, but the board chose not to designate the Backer (Woodford Place) property on Lexington Road to any elementary school's attendance zone because of the limited space available at both Southside and Huntertown elementary schools. Southside Elementary School's enrollment has climbed to about 580 students this year. Redistricting moved about 80 students from Huntertown to Southside's attendance zone, which now includes the Rose Ridge and Cedar Ridge neighborhoods, where new homes are being built. Overall, the families of another 40 to 50 new students moved into the school district and are now enrolled at Southside. "There was no way to anticipate what that number would be and that was very uncharacteristic to what we've experienced in the past at any of our schools," said Hawkins. The district does have more elementary space in its other schools so redistricting could become necessary in order to do some more shifting of its student population, according Hawkins. However, if the new Lexington Road neighborhood resulted in another 100 students at Woodford County Middle School, which hovers around capacity with 900 students, "that's where I think it becomes a little bit more problematic," said Hawkins. He noted the district has not seen a significant increase in its overall student population in decades. Another proposed residential neighborhood on Lexington Road (also historically known as the Backer property) will be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee next Monday morning before moving on to the Planning Commission. The request by 2001 Lexington Road, LLC, (Danny Gaekwad, sole member), proposes 532 residential lots on 183 acres. Before any homes are built on property in the two proposed Lexington Road neighborhoods, the developers must get several approvals including a zone change. Additionally, the developers must get approval for sanitary sewer service from the City of Versailles. Infrastructure must be in place before building permits are issued and homes are built on platted lots.

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