Vandegrift, Soper spar over EDA proposal
MIDWAY - At the end of Monday's city council meeting, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift brought up the subject of a restructuring of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority (EDA). Vandegrift explained to the four council members present (Kaye Nita Gallagher and Steven Craig were absent) that the city of Midway has been asked to increase its annual EDA funding payment from $5,000 to nearly $27,000. He said he'd met earlier in the day with Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, whose city council endorsed the changes at its Nov. 15 meeting. Vandegrift said the meeting was very frank and cordial, but that Coyle and Traugott hadn't immediately agreed to his suggestion that Midway should receive another appointment to the EDA and the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission. Presently, Midway has one appointment to the seven-member EDA and the nine-member Planning Commission. The resolution passed by the Versailles City Council would end the EDA's $42,000 contract with the Bluegrass Area Development District for the services of Craig McAnelly and use that money and another $25,000-plus to pay EDA Chairman John Soper. Soper has a $5,300 monthly contract with the city of Versailles, but serves as EDA chairman for no pay. "I want to say again how much I appreciate John Soper's work (as EDA chair) and Craig McAnelly's work, but I've never seen a deal like this where you already have the person in mind ahead of time. I think that, in all fairness, and this is nothing against John, because he's a wizard with this stuff, there probably should be some kind of open hiring process to this," Vandegrift said. Council member Dan Roller said he believed if the city of Midway's EDA payment matches that of the city of Versailles and Woodford County, as it does under Traugott's proposal, Midway should have the same number of EDA appointments as the other two bodies. "If I'm going to go down to the Grey Goose and I'm going to order a steak and two other people are going to order a steak and we're all paying $27, they'd better damn well all be the same size steaks," Roller said. A few minutes later, Soper gave several reasons why the restructuring was sound and suggested a new EDA chairman would face a steep learning curve before being able to address economic development issues at Midway Station. He said developer Dennis Anderson, who pays the interest on Midway Station debt in return for an option to purchase land there, may choose to give up that option. If so, Midway and the county would be on the hook for interest and principal on the $3.5 million in remaining debt. Soper outlined several problems dating to the creation of Midway Station in 1990, including a number that were only discovered recently, including a $400,000 mortgage there. "It's a snake pit and it always has been," Soper said. Vandegrift told Soper, "I just don't think it's the best tactic in the world to say, 'Pay up this money or it's all going to fall apart,' and that's what I'm hearing tonight." Soper replied, "Grayson, I'm a realist, you know? You don't pay me to be a politician. I tell you what my opinion is, and my opinion is you all have got a lot of risk here. It's as simple as that." "Thank you," Vandegrift said. "You know, I'd love to be out of the deal," Soper continued before Vandegrift cut him off, saying, "That's enough. That's enough." A few moments later, Soper left. The council agreed to see what Woodford Fiscal Court did the following night. Animal removal ordinance After the owners of a cat that died after getting caught in a trap outside a church's crawl space again addressed the council for a stronger law, members voted 4 to 0 to pass a measure that Sarah Gilbert and Stewart Surgener said was too vague and didn't outlaw "kill traps." The measure reads, "The means used in removing or evicting any animal, wildlife or pests from or off a property . shall not result in the contemporaneous harming or death of a domestic animal or household pet." The ordinance does not apply to governmental animal control agencies and authorities. Lakeshore Learning The council unanimously passed two measures related to Lakeshore Learning, the California-based company bringing 262 jobs to Midway Station. . An intent to annex 33.485 acres of property belonging to the Homer Feeny, Jr. Trust for Lakeshore and another, supporting company. . An encroachment permit to engineer Terry Shaw to allow road cuts and the removal and replacement of existing storm pipes and curb inlets at 547 McKinney Avenue. Goals and objectives After several minutes of debate, the council voted 3 to 1 to make changes in the Comprehensive Plan's Goals and Objections section that will match those made by the Versailles City Council and Woodford Fiscal Court. Council member Sara Hicks voted no. Business residences The council voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to zoning laws that will allow upstairs residences in businesses located in P-1 zones (professional office space). The Versailles City Council and Woodford Fiscal Court already passed the measure. Appointments Phil Keppler and Al Schooler were unanimously reappointed to the Architectural Review Board and Board of Adjustment, respectively.