• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Midway mayor, others oppose road extension

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and others voiced their opposition to a proposed transportation objective to "promote and encourage" an extension of Falling Springs Boulevard to Frankfort Road at or near the intersection of Midway Road during a public hearing on Thursday, July 14. The hearing was conducted by the Planning Commission as that government-appointed body moves forward with its review and update of a Comprehensive Plan, which includes goals and objectives for commercial, industrial and residential development, as well as agricultural uses and transportation. "While I've . always firmly supported Versailles's right to alleviate their traffic concerns," said Vandegrift during last week's hearing. ".I don't support doing so without trying other sound suggestions, which to date have been ignored, and which might avoid dumping the problem onto their next door neighbor (Midway)." Vandegrift also explained his frustration with commission action earlier this year to remove Midway's only Planning Commission appointee, Rich Schein, from the subcommittee working on an update of the land-use plan. "This language (to promote and encourage an extension of Falling Springs Boulevard) taken together with the removal of Mr. Schein, who has been a vocal critic of the (extension) from the get-go, looks like a not-so-subtle attempt to remove Midway's voice from the process as much as possible." Midway's mayor then urged commission members "to right that wrong" by removing language supporting the extension of Falling Springs Boulevard. In a letter submitted to the commission, Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott explained why such an extension must at least be considered. "The necessity of constructing this project, or at least continuing a serious discussion of its merits and potential route, has been agreed upon by every traffic engineer that has looked at Versailles. The potential to remove up to 6,000 cars per day from Main Street in Versailles - many of which are tractor trailers - is too significant to ignore," he wrote. "Our charming downtown cannot be utilized to the greatest extent until the traffic issue is addressed." Traugott, who was unable to attend last Thursday's hearing, stated that he has yet to hear any other reasonable, effective option to alleviate the truck traffic on Main Street in downtown Versailles other than an extension of Falling Springs Boulevard. Last Thursday's hearing was held to get public input on a draft document of proposed changes in the land-use plan's goals and objects. The revisions were drafted after a work session by a subcommittee of the Planning Commission. "In general, the (current) goals and objectives do a good job of presenting a positive, inclusive, sustainable vision for the future growth in our county," said Laura Dake, representing Citizens for Sustainable Growth. "They encourage public involvement and promote intelligent growth through infill, reuse and renovation of existing areas. Unfortunately, we believe these goals and objectives have not and are not being supported by many of the P&Z Commission's actions." The grassroots citizens group that Dake represents joined other residents of Woodford County who described an objective "to promote and encourage" the extension of Falling Springs Boulevard as inappropriate. "It's a controversial proposal that has divided the community, and it will always divide the community," said Hank Graddy, representing the Woodford Coalition. And Midway resident Joyce Evans pointed out that the proposed objective to encourage an extension of Falling Springs Boulevard directly conflicts with a transportation objective to discourage tractor-trailer traffic from certain routes, including Midway Road. While many spoke in opposition to the extension, Harold Steele said a four-lane northwest bypass is badly needed to alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Versailles. And he voiced his pessimism about why dollars allocated to the Northwest Connector project were removed from the state's six-year road plan when so many people have voiced support for the project. "It's wanted here. It's needed here," Steele said. Several people who spoke at the hearing also raised concern with a proposed revision to a general land development objective that would allow "justified expansions" of the urban services area if that language were added to the updated Comp Plan. Deb Pekny argued that the word "justified" was "subject to very liberal interpretation." "Who decides what is justified?" she asked. While most who spoke at the hearing opposed allowing "justified expansions" of the urban services area as an objective, Steele said allowing this flexibility leads to a large manufacturing business like More Than A Bakery locating in Versailles. "If we provide the land . people want to come here," he said. Earlier, Bob Pekny urged the Planning Commission to revisit an objective in the Comp Plan's general process to "allow adequate time for concerned citizens to address the commission within the spectrum of public hearings." "Most of your recent meetings have involved decisions that have had very negative impacts on hundreds of folks," he argued. "Being limited to speak for only three minutes just isn't fair." The commission closed its public hearing last Thursday without taking action on proposed revisions to the existing goals and objectives of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan. The decision to not act on making any revisions to the existing goals and objectives came after P&Z attorney Tim Butler recommended that comments made at the hearing be reviewed by the Comp Plan committee before coming back with a recommendation to the full commission for possible action.

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