• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Edgewood plaintiffs ask judge to reconsider ruling

The plaintiffs suing the Versailles City Council, the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission and private interests have asked Circuit Judge Jeremy Mattox to reconsider his Feb. 18 summary judgment against them. The motion to alter, amend or vacate was filed Friday, Feb. 28, in Woodford Circuit Court’s civil division, with a hearing scheduled for April 1. However, Monday, Hank Graddy, who represents two of the plaintiff groups (The Paynes Mill Committee and Woodford Coalition) said he planned to request an alternate date, as he’s scheduled to be out of state April 1. Of the motion, Graddy told the Sun, “We will ask him to take another look at the case, and we will try to bring his attention to things we believe he overlooked or may not have properly understood our arguments. We’ll be trying to make one final effort to invite him to see the case the way we see it.” On Feb. 18, Mattox ruled in favor of the Versailles City Council, the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission, and the property owners and developers involved in the lawsuits over the 405-acre Edgewood Farm property on the north side of U.S. 60, just past Kroger. The plaintiffs include a third group, the Pisgah Community Historic Association, which is represented by Lexington attorney Chris Clendenen. Versailles City Attorney Bill Moore said if Mattox rules against the plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider, they will have 30 days to file an appeal of his summary judgment. The ruling, if not successfully appealed, could lead to a long-discussed new home for Bluegrass Community Hospital and mixed-use development on the property. Tommy Haggard, CEO of Bluegrass Community Hospital, declined to comment on whether LifePoint Health, the company that owns the hospital and nine others in Kentucky, is still considering the Edgewood Farm property as a site for a new hospital. The first suits were filed by the plaintiffs Sept. 1, 2016. Among the parties to that suit are Ben and Jennifer Chandler, whose family owns The Sun. The suits challenged actions by the Versailles City Council and the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Zoning Commission that brought Edgewood into the city’s urban service boundary, annexed the property and rezoned it. Among their arguments: the Planning Commission’s decision to amend the 2011 Comprehensive Plan was arbitrary and violated the plan’s goals and objectives; the Versailles City Council’s rezoning was not based on substantial evidence and failed to comply with state law; the plaintiffs were denied their due process rights (in part, by having to comply with three-minute time limits at a public hearing); and that the defendants’ actions were unconstitutional. Soper: new hospital could save lives The actions by the city council and Planning Commission were designed to pave the way for the property’s development – and, occasionally, strong rhetoric by both sides. In the Friday, Feb. 28, meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA), EDA Chair John Soper said property taxes from $250 million of development in Edgewood would pay most of the cost of a new high school in a decade. He said he’d been told by an attorney familiar with the case that the judge’s Feb. 18 ruling was so strongly in favor of the defendants that the plaintiffs would “only accomplish a delay” if they appealed it. Soper also suggested that more than development and new tax revenues were at stake. “Is that in the best interest of this community – to have two years delay? And a new hospital would bring new services, and I would ask those people to consider if new services could save someone’s life, and is that worth a two-year delay?” Soper said. Informed of Soper’s comments, plaintiff attorney Hank Graddy, said he consulted with his clients and issued the following statement: “The plaintiffs believe that the best place for a hospital is where the current hospital is located or in an otherwise urban area – that is, if a new hospital is needed. I would encourage Mr. Soper to reread The Woodford Sun edition of Sept. 13, 2018, which I think indicates Mr. Soper’s information is out of date.” That issue featured a front-page story about a Sept. 10, 2018 EDA meeting in which Soper said the Edgewood lawsuit was delaying construction on a new high school. Lisa Johnson, then a candidate for mayor of Versailles, disagreed with that assertion during the public comments portion of the meeting. The following day, she called Soper’s remarks “inflammatory.” In his Feb. 18 ruling, Mattox said the defendants did not violate the plaintiffs’ procedural due process rights, noting that the Pisgah plaintiffs were able to state their objections during the Planning Commission hearing; that the Paynes Mill plaintiffs, “as a group, did not speak at the hearing and didn’t submitted written objections.” He further ruled that the Comp Plan amendment was not arbitrary, nor were the zone change and annexation by the Versailles City Council.

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