• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Opposition for plan to open U-Haul in shopping center

An attorney representing U-Haul International described a proposed indoor self-storage facility that would fill a vacant Kroger store as being a similar use to other permitted uses in the B-4 (highway business) district. Others who spoke at Monday’s public hearing argued allowing a U-Haul to locate in the Lexington Road Plaza shopping center would set a bad precedent for valuable retail space in the community.

“I’m not against U-Haul or their storage units. I just think this is the wrong place,” said Pattie Carter, part-owner of Marketplace On Main in Versailles. She said people living here need more retail options so they don’t have to drive to Lexington or Frankfort because they can’t buy something in Versailles.

After hearing arguments for and against U-Haul’s plan to repurpose the former Kroger store, the Board of Adjustment (BOA) voted to delay taking action on the administrative review until its July meeting. It left the hearing open for written comments, which can be submitted to the Planning Commission office, through Friday, June 15. BOA member David Prewitt voted against the motion, which passed 3 to 1, with Frank Stark absent.

Whitney Dunlap, an attorney for U-Haul International, said the company purchased the Lexington Road Plaza “because it wants to revitalize, repurpose, revive that location,” after Kroger relocated to the new Versailles Commons shopping center in August 2015 and

Kmart closed in January of this year. A national farm supply store has a letter of intent to occupy a portion of the Kmart building, with a second tenant looking to share that 94,000 square-foot space, said Dunlap of U-Haul’s ongoing efforts to lease vacant storefronts in the shopping center.

“U-Haul has a successful business strategy of revitalizing empty (big) box stores,” argued Dunlap. He described U-Haul as a business with truck/trailer rentals and indoor self-storage spaces, while also being “a vital retail business.”

Opponents of the plan for U-Haul to locate in a B-4 zoning district have said self-storage units are a permitted use in the I-1 (light industrial) district, which allows warehouses. Dunlap said self-service storage units are not a warehouse and cited a state law that he said supports his argument.

“We’re talking about self-service storage … You can dress it, you can façade it – storage is still storage,” said Dee Fife Gay, whose husband owns a self-storage business in the I-1 zone.

David Arnold, who lives near the Lexington Road Plaza on Marsailles Road, urged county planners to ask U-Haul to come up with a more comprehensive plan for the shopping center, which he described as “a gateway to our community.”

He said “no amount of legal wordsmithing” can change the fact that the proposed adaptive reuse of the Kroger building is a warehouse. “It makes no difference if the warehouse space is fancy or if it’s divided into different client spaces,” he added.

Larry Wilson, who offers U-Haul truck rentals at his local auto sales business, agreed with Dunlap that “we definitely need more storage in Versailles…”

If the BOA determines an indoor self-storage facility is a similar use to other permitted uses in the B-4 district, an amended development plan will need to be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee and approved by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission. U-Haul can then move forward with its plans to repurpose the vacant Kroger store as a self-storage facility. Permit to expand

The BOA approved an amended conditional-use permit allowing Kathy Burgess to construct a new building for her growing dog breeding and training business at 12641 Troy Pike.

“Since we’ve moved onto the property we’ve had a lot of growth in our staffing,” Burgess said.

Her business – GoldenQuest – employed three fulltime and two part-time staff when it moved onto the property, and now employs seven fulltime and 14 part-time staff, with plans to hire five more, according to information supplied to the BOA.

A planned U-shaped building will house 50 to 60 kennels. An existing 20-year-old building, which will be repurposed as an area for training dogs, houses 41 kennels. The new facility will provide a better environment to breed and care for her business’s Comfort Retrievers and Goldendoodles, Burgess said.

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