• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Traugott voices opposition to Woodford Place plan

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott has expressed his opposition to developing land on Lexington Road (known as the Backer property) into a mixed-use neighborhood. In a letter to the Planning Commission submitted prior to its April 14 public hearing on the mixed-use plan, Traugott said he had "real concerns with the impact of this development on traffic safety." And he also said mixed-use design "projects have proven unworkable in Versailles in the past and there is no reason to believe the economics have dramatically changed over the years." The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission held a hearing on the request from 2101, LLC, (Trey Schott, member), to rezone 63 acres at 2101 Lexington Road. The proposed mixed-use neighborhood (Woodford Place) includes 83 single-family residential lots, 28 townhouse units and 144 apartment units with 91,125 square-feet of nonresidential space for retail, office and civic uses. The Planning Commission took no action on the request by 2101, LLC, after closing its hearing on April 14. It had 90 days to make a recommendation to Versailles City Council at the close of its hearing. A zone change request and preliminary development plan, which proposes 532 residential lots on 183 acres at 2001 Lexington Road (also known as the Backer property) was forwarded to the Planning Commission last week. When the 63- and 183-acre parcels of land - collectively known as the Backer Farm - were annexed by the City of Versailles in 2014, Traugott said the proposed Edgewood Farm development (located closer to downtown Versailles), but also on Lexington Road, was not "on the table." "I'm pro-growth to a degree," Traugott told The Sun on Monday, "but there can be too much growth. And I think all three of those (developments) would probably mean too much. "I think it would be too much, too quick - even over a 10-year period. I think it's too big of a transformation - identity-wise, traffic-wise." He said allowing that much residential development could also diminish home values by over-saturating the market. When asked to explain why he supports the Edgewood Farm proposal, Traugott said that mixed-use plan includes industrial land (118 acres for the Woodford County Economic Development Authority to market) and a site for a new Bluegrass Community Hospital facility, which he described as "two of my biggest priorities." Traugott noted that residential uses generate few local tax dollars to support public services provided by the City of Versailles, while industry generates substantial tax revenue. "City coffers would benefit greatly from Edgewood," said Traugott. He said a mixed-use neighborhood like Woodford Place "looks good on paper," but those neighborhoods have not been financially viable for local developers in the recent past. He cited the former Woodford County Middle School site on Maple Street at Lexington Road as one example of a mixed-use neighborhood that never happened, and now remains undeveloped. The availability of sanitary sewer service was another issue discussed at the April 14 public hearing on the 63-acre zone change request (Woodford Place). Traugott said the City of Versailles has hired an engineer to study its sanitary sewer system to determine capacity and flow "so that's truly an unknown at this point." Regardless of what happens in coming years, the city will need to make infrastructure improvements to its sewer system, he said. When asked about providing sanitary sewer service to the three Lexington Road developments now being considered, Traugott said the City of Versailles has only signed off on providing service to the parcel where a new Bluegrass Community Hospital would be located under the current Edgewood Farm plan. The Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing tonight, Thursday, April 28, at 6:30 to discuss that request to rezone 405 acres at 1450 Lexington Road. Retail businesses as well as industrial and residential lots are planned for the site, located east of the Kroger Marketplace shopping center.

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