• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Lexington Road zone changes get go-ahead

A 405-acre mixed-use development, with a site for a new Bluegrass Community Hospital and industrial land, moved two steps closer to happening June 9. The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend a zone change and also took action to amend the 2011 Comprehensive Plan in order to expand the Versailles urban services boundary to include all 405 acres at 1450 Lexington Road (known as Edgewood Farm). The Planning Commission's zone-change recommendation goes to the Versailles City Council, which declared its intent to annex 336.83 acres of the subject property (outside the city limits) in August 2015. A motion by Commissioner Chad Wells to amend the Comp Plan was seconded by Patty Perry and passed by a 6 to 1 vote. Lone dissenter Jim Boggs expressed his opposition before voting no. "If we pass this," Boggs said, "tomorrow night, right out in front of the courthouse, let's bring some barrels . and bring all of our 'Uniquely Woodford' t-shirts and burn them . And we'll go out to where the roads come in (to Woodford County) and cut down the 'Uniquely Woodford' signs and put up a new sign that says, 'Woodford: just like Jessamine. Woodford: just like Scott,'" which drew applause from some at the meeting. Boggs, who also voted in opposition to recommending the zone change, said about 90 percent of the letters received by commission members from the public disagreed with this mixed-use plan. CRM Companies (Craig Turner) wants to rezone the Edgewood Farm property - located east of Kroger and west of Paynes Mill Road - to light industrial (118.76 acres), high-density residential (69.81 acres), highway business (96.62 acres), professional office (26.54 acres) and single-family residential (93.52 acres/with over 50 percent to be used for storm water management and open space). Employees of Bluegrass Community Hospital, including its CEO Tommy Haggard, supported the Edgewood proposal as an opportunity to provide Woodford County with a state-of-the-art healthcare facility to meet the future medical needs in the community. The existing hospital, according to longtime physician Ray Depa, has "exceeded its 100-year life expectancy. Frankly, the hospital needs to be replaced. It needs to be replaced in order to continue to deliver high-quality medical care to this community," said Depa during the April 28 hearing on the zone-change request. In a recent telephone interview, Haggard said construction of a new Bluegrass Community Hospital will take about 18 months to complete. But before the local hospital's parent company, LifePoint Hospitals, Inc., acquires the land - a proposed 26-acre site on Lexington Road at Paynes Mill Road - the Versailles City Council must approve the zone-change request. Also, development and construction plans must be approved for a hospital building and other infrastructure before the project can proceed. Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, an outspoken supporter of the Edgewood Farmproposal, described a new hospital as a "huge asset to the community." Traugott said other communities would love to have what Versailles has today. "So we have an opportunity here that most communities would love to have - especially a community our size. It's unheard of almost," he explained. Traugott said he's also excited about talks to bring a grain milling facility to a 20-acre industrial site in the Edgewood Farm development. "So Edgewood to me," he added, "is a wealth of opportunity." Also, during its June 9 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended that Versailles City Council approve a zone-change request for 188 acres at 2001 Lexington Road for a residential neighborhood adjacent to existing subdivisions, including Gleneagles Estates, and across the roadway from the Methodist Home. Boggs again was the only no vote on a motion by Wells to recommend the zone change from A-1 (agricultural) to residential - about 170 acres for single-family and nearly 10 acres for multi-family residential. The commission did not take action to approve a preliminary development plan proposing 540 residential lots on the Lexington Road property (known as the Backer Farm). The rationale for Wells not making a motion to approve the plan was including county-owned public park land (Huntertown Community) as a part of the 4 percent open space in the residential neighborhood, he said. While Traugott said there is a need for new housing development in Versailles, the mayor said he has opposed the Baker Farm plan because of traffic concerns - most notably putting a new traffic signal at that location across from the Methodist Home on Lexington Road. Traugott pointed out that, as mayor, he does not have any official powers on a vote to rezone properties. He can't vote in the event of a tie and he can't veto a decision by Versailles council, he added. If the zone-change request is approved by the Versailles City Council, Traugott said he would like some assurances on a timetable for when homes are built on the property. He said not slowing the build-out of homes would significantly affect the school system. "The more you manage it," explained Traugott, "the more they could manage it on their end. And naturally these things obviously don't build out in a year or two. It's going to take some time. But I would like to see us have some control over it - the timing." He said any agreement to manage the number of homes built each year should be fair to the property developer, citizens of Versailles and school system. In April 2015, the Woodford County Board of Education voted to not designate the Backer property to any of the four elementary school's attendance areas. Its decision came after a discussion about the uncertainty of when homes would be built on undeveloped property on the south side of Lexington Road. Barrel warehouses The Planning Commission approved a final development plan allowing Brown-Forman Corporation to move forward with its plans to construct 12 Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel warehouses at 960 Georgetown Road (Ky. 341), north of Midway's I-64 interchange. Steve Ruschell, an attorney representing Brown-Forman, said the warehouses will be constructed over about 13 to 14 years, with two warehouses being built every couple of years. The 90,000 square-foot warehouses will house up to 66,000 barrels of bourbon - about 800,000 barrels when all 12 of the warehouses are built. Ruschell told the commission that the proposed warehouses will be located over 2,000 feet from Georgetown Road. "We've made every effort to fit into the agricultural setting," he added. However, during a Board of Adjustment public hearing in May on a conditional-use request to allow the warehouses on land zoned for agricultural uses, Woodford County resident Deb Pekny expressed her concern with the proposal, which she described as a "very liberal interpretation of bourbon being an agricultural product. I understand that it's derived from grain, but I don't understand the leap from production of bourbon to providing industrial warehouse storage on agricultural property." The warehouse use for the 117.696 acres of A-1 (agricultural) land was recommended by the Agricultural Advisory Review Committee in April. The Board of Adjustment then approved a conditional-use permit for the use in May. Rich Schein, who represents Midway on the Planning Commission, was absent from last Thursday's regular commission meeting.

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