• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun News Editor

Mixed-use development proposes 691 residential units


A neighboring property owner of a proposed mixed-use development on Lexington Road raised issue with plans for 691 residential units (apartments, townhouses and patio homes) during a public hearing Oct. 11.

Lindsey Cox McHatton, whose family has owned an adjacent farm since 1832, said she’s opposed to the proposal because allowing so many residential units will negatively affect their daily lives. She argued a plan to add 691 residential units in this area places a burden on city services, and that number should be reduced “to a manageable level so Versailles can maintain its unique integrity and not become just another bedroom community of Lexington.”

“Woodford Place” – formerly known as Backer Farm II – would bring much-needed diversity of housing types to the area, according to attorney Nick Nicholson, who represented 2101, LLC (Trey Schott), owner of the property at 2101 Lexington Road.

The request to rezone 68.467 acres from A-1 (agricultural) to B-4 (highway business) and R-4 (high density residential) will allow the property owner to move forward with plans for 600 apartment building residential units, 67 townhouses and 24 patio homes, and two commercial lots on land closest to Lexington Road.

This latest proposal for Backer II includes more residential units than an earlier plan with 255 units, which was denied two years ago, Mary Katherine Graetz told the commission. She said the hundreds of residential units in the pipeline or being built “are overwhelming, especially for a community that is struggling to pay for schools and other essential services.”

In addressing concerns related to the number of housing units planned for Backer II, Nicholson said development of those units would happen during “a five- to 20-year rollout.” He noted that a self-imposed restriction on the B-4 property will ensure those lots are occupied by “very low intense, neighborhood-friendly type commercial uses like office, retail or restaurants.”

Nicholson said conversations are ongoing with the state Department of Transportation to ensure Woodford Place’s entrance/exit (across from Frontier Nursing University) on Lexington Road will have a traffic signal and turn lanes. And he pointed out this development will share interconnectivity (roads and sidewalks) with the adjacent Backer Farm I, an approved development with 495 residential lots planned on 188 acres at 2001 Lexington Road.

“This area is not – or shortly will not be agriculture in nature, rural in nature,” Nicholson said. “It is becoming more urban… You are not going to be able to run cattle on this property as soon as these (Backer I) houses are built. So it will be very difficult to have a true agricultural use on this property as the Backer I development is coming through.”

He said the proposed housing types (apartments, townhouse and patio homes) for Backer II will generate “a much lower student population,” than other single-family housing types. He said that conclusion was based data from the American Planning Association, and pointed out that about 120 of the proposed apartment units will be reserved for veterans’ housing.

In a letter to the Planning Commission, Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins stated his concerns related to approving a development with 691 residential units, including apartment buildings.

“With so many unknowns related to population growth in Woodford County in the next 5-8 years, it is difficult to accurately predict the burden this new development would place on our school district,” Hawkins stated. “…With our current limited bonding capacity, new construction could be problematic, especially with our greatest need being a new high school.

“I understand there is a need for additional housing in our community. The number of units included in this new request (for Backer I) would place a significant burden on the district.”

School enrollment numbers reported to Planning Director Pattie Wilson show that Woodford County middle and high school are both overcapacity, with 944 students at WCMS and 1,278 students at WCHS as of Sept. 24. No elementary school reported an enrollment that was over its capacity, but Southside had 558 students, or 93 percent of its capacity (600).

In Wilson’s assessment of residential land for her report on this zone change request, she stated that there are 188 lots recorded and available for residential building permits as of Sept. 15. One of those lots is for an apartment building with 108 units still available for building permitting.

A letter to the commission from Schott, who owns rental property in the community, stated Versailles faces a shortage in affordable housing and quality multi-family choices.

The affordable housing issue was briefly discussed, before the Planning Commission closed the hearing and agreed to table action on making a recommendation to Versailles City Council on whether to approve the zone change request. Schott’s letter, explaining why the Woodford Place property should be rezoned, stated there’s also a need for restaurants and retail choices beyond Kroger.

In an assessment of commercial property in the Versailles urban services area, Wilson reported that 85 percent of the unused 151 acres of commercial property is not available for permitting because there’s no infrastructure (roads and public utilities) in place. The commercial properties include 71 acres known as Edgewood Farm on Lexington Road and 57 acres known as the Sellers property on Troy Pike at the Blue Grass Parkway – both have no infrastructure.

Daisy Hill plan

The commission approved an amended plan that allows Daisy Hill Senior Living Community at 2001 Crossfield Drive to relocate a dumpster and relocate parking to the rear of a future memory care addition. The development plan also resizes future building additions and increases the number of future parking spaces.

Small community lot

The commission recommended a rezoning of 2.114 acres in from A-1 (agricultural) to A-4 (small community) so James and Gloria Donnell can subdivide a lot at 10165 Clifton Road into two lots. The new address created by the subdivision will be 10201 Clifton Road.

Both lots (located in the small community of Millville) meet the minimum one-acre and 150-foot road frontage requirements for lots in the small community zoning district, according to a staff report.

No one spoke at the public hearing on the zone-change request, which goes to Woodford Fiscal Court for final approval.

Last meeting

Boggs was thanked for his many years of service on the planning commission. The Woodford County appointee’s term ends Oct. 31. His successor has not yet been appointed by County Judge-Executive John Coyle.

“Once we walk out that door,” Boggs told other commission members, “I consider every one of you my friends. And I’ll feel that way when I leave. And I will be back – not here (on the commission), but out there” in the seating for people in the community.

Attorney retiring

The retirement of Planning Commission attorney Tim Butler at the end of November was discussed by the personnel and budget committee after the regular meeting.

Because the commission isn’t required to advertise for legal counsel, employed under a personal services contact, Wilson said she has begun exploring options in terms of finding an attorney with a background or expertise in planning law. She invited commission members to do likewise as they begin the process of searching for Butler’s successor.

Butler had a background as a community planner before he became an attorney.

“We’re going to be hard-pressed to find anyone with his expertise…,” acknowledged commission Chair Chad Wells, himself an attorney.

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