• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

EDA supports Midway Station zone change

The Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) unanimously supported a zone change on 70-plus acres at Midway Station from residential (R-1) to industrial (I-1) at the group’s monthly meeting on Friday, July 27.

EDA Chairman John Soper said developer Dennis Anderson, who has an option to sell land at the industrial park in exchange for paying interest on the outstanding debt there, asked for the change. The area in question contains about 40 usable acres, Soper said, with the rest including a portion where a park was originally planned and flood plains.

“Streets and roads are in there, sewers are in there, so Dennis can create some pretty decent-sized lots,” Soper said.

Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission Director Pattie Wilson said the lots were already recorded, and if the same plats are used, they can be sold quickly. Unlike city and county governments, zone changes recommended by the EDA require a public hearing by the Planning Commission. After the hearing, the Midway Station zone change could be voted on by the Midway City Council.

Before the vote, a one- or two-acre portion zoned rural residential (R-3) in the northwest corner of the land was added to “square it up,” according to Soper.

Soper also received approval for him and treasurer Mike Coleman to sign necessary documents to sell a lot at Midway Station that could lure a plumbing supply company/contractor with 10 to 15 jobs. Easy access to the interstate from Midway Station for work throughout Central Kentucky was a plus for such companies, he said. “I think there’s a real opportunity here for him (Anderson), which will pay down our debt and get the jobs that we need,” Soper said.

Castle & Key

Soper updated members on the growth of Castle & Key Distillery, located on the site of the Old Taylor Distillery on McCracken Pike. When the new owners took control in 2014, Woodford Fiscal Court signed off on a payroll tax exemption of 1 percent (out of a total of 1.5 percent). At the court’s July 26 meeting, the court heard first reading of an ordinance expanding the 10-year payroll tax cut to encompass the company’s growth from 10 to, eventually, 100 employees. The overall investment by Peristyle, LLC has also increased from $4.1 million to $26.3 million. The move also makes the company eligible for state incentives, Soper said.

The expansion will also result in higher barrel taxes for the county, Soper said.

Affordable housing

Soper briefed the EDA about the July 23 meeting of the affordable housing task force set up by Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott. Member Courtney Roberts seconded the need for more affordable housing in the county, saying there was very little available for less than $150,000 to $200,000.

Soper said Fayette County has spent $11 million in the last four years to attract more affordable housing, and that Woodford County could also use grants and loans to bring down development costs, resulting in lower rents. A needs analysis will likely be needed, Soper said, “from people at 100 percent of the median income down to 20 percent.”

Soper said one challenge is that no land is for sale within the urban service boundary of Versailles.

“I’ll argue with anyone all day, if it’s not for sale, it’s not available,” he said.

World Trade Center

The EDA voted unanimously to enter into a $1,750 one-year contract with Lexington’s World Trade Center with the ultimate goal of helping small and medium-sized businesses get overseas business. Woodford Chamber of Commerce CEO Don Vizi said the move was a great idea.

“We’ve got a lot of businesses out there that would like to expand, but don’t know how to do it,” Vizi said, adding that local companies wanting to ship overseas need a sign-off from the Chamber.

“I think there’s other people now, with the mailing of wine and things like that that can happen … You never know who else is out there, just to let them know, ‘This is available. Can you do that?’” Vizi said. Job stats

Soper passed out a sheet showing various employment statistics, including the top 20 employers in Woodford County. The top five are Quad/Graphics (686), LEDVANCE (493), Yokohama (492), NSG-Pilkington (300) and Lakeshore Learning Materials (262).

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