Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Community Unity Meal and Service to be held at Midway Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Wednesday

A Community Unity Meal and Service will be held at Midway Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. The event is also sponsored by three historic African American churches: Second Christian, Pilgrim Baptist and St. Matthew AME.

Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby
The event, listed as "Reconciliation Meal" on the Midway Baptist Church's online calendar, is being held in response to recent tragedies around the nation that had racial components. Speakers will include the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons Bible College and senior pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville. He was among the speakers at Muhammad Ali's memorial service.

"The fact that these churches are taking the initiative is really, really helpful, especially since they are in many ways the driving force of unity in our community," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told The Woodford Sun for its latest edition. He said that because society remains segregated on many levels, "Any time we can come together . . . and just talk, I think it starts to break up a lot of that division."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Property tax to drop slightly, Northside Drive to be repaved, park to get soccer field and walking trail

The city property tax is about to drop slightly, Northside Drive is about to be resurfaced, the city park is about to get a soccer field and tree-lined walking trail, and some owners of blighted properties are about to feel a crackdown from the city.

Those were the major items of business at Monday evening's Midway City Council meeting.

The council heard first reading of an ordinance that would lower the city's property tax rate to 10.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from the current rate of 10.7 cents per $100.

The new rate would produce about the same amount of revenue because real-estate assessments in the city have risen above $100 million and there is $400,000 worth of new property. The council can increase revenue from existing property by 4 percent without being subject to a petition for a referendum.

The council also heard first reading of another ordinance that would leave the rate on personal property at 14 cents per $100.

A pothole on Northside Drive (Photo by Katherine Stach)
The council accepted Lexington Blacktop's bid of $11,407 for extra work on Northside Drive, which the firm will repave under a $59,500 bid accepted earlier. The firm's Johnny Merritt said several potholes stem from a "sub-grade failure" and need to be excavated and filled with asphalt.

Council Member Steven Craig asked what will happen if the potholes come back. Merritt said the firm guarantees its work for a year, then added, "They won't. They shouldn't." Vandegrift said the street was built 20 to 25 years ago and has never been resurfaced.

The council agreed to let the Derby City Rovers, a soccer team of 8- to 10-year-old girls, use a flat area at Walter Bradley Park for a soccer field if they provide proof of insurance. They will also use goals that the city has on hand.

"This is not going to be a state-of-the-art soccer field," said John Holloway, who is spearheading improvements at the park. "it's something that can be used for kids."

Holloway reported that he has laid out a new walking trail for the park, which students from Midway University will mulch Saturday. Fifteen trees will be planted along the trail, as indicated on the map, on which the trail route is red.

Council Member Dan Roller, chair of the blighted property committee, listed four properties that would be referred to the building inspector to determine whether they had been abandoned: 216 E. Higgins St., 259 W. Higgins, 313 N. Winter and the brick house at the corner of Higgins and Turner streets. He added that several outbuildings are in bad shape, with roofs collapsing and "open to varmints," and recommended that they also be referred to the inspector.

Declaration of abandonment is up to the city's Vacant Property Review Board, which Vandegrift said needs new members. He complimented Roller, who is not seeking re-election this fall, for his work on the issue during six years on the council.

Roller said the committee had surveyed the town and agreed that property maintenance is much better than a few years ago, when the city began to crack down on violators, but "There's a number of properties just sitting there, not being improved, not being occupied, nothing being done." He said just mowing grass isn't sufficient to keep a property from being declared abandoned.

Sign on North Winter Street
Vandegrift announced that signs were erected Monday on major streets to mark the boundaries of the Midway Historic District. He thanked Dee Dee Roach and Bill and Leslie Penn, of the history committee of Midway Renaissance, for getting the work done.

In other business, the council voted to give $400 to the Woodford County Human Rights Commission, which had asked for an unspecified amount of support toward its $2,400 annual budget. Vandegrift said County Judge-Executive John Coyle had suggested that the county's three governments fund the commission at the same shares as other joint agencies. That was "sort of meager," Vandegrift said, suggesting $300. Council Member Bruce Southworth moved to give $400 and the rest agreed.

The next meeting of the council will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6, due to the Labor Day holiday. Vandegrift said he hopes to have at that meeting a list of sidewalks to be repaired with city help.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Final 'Midsummer Nights in Midway' is Aug. 19

The last of the "Midsummer Nights in Midway" for this year will start at 5 p.m. next Friday, Aug. 19, with an old-time jam session on Main Street. There will be square dancing from 7 to 8 p.m., and the old-time string band Paw Paw Pickers will entertain from 7 to 10 p.m.

Food vendors on the street will be 2 Ladies and a Kettle: Gourmet Kettle CornTrifecta BBQSt. Matthew AME Church (fried fish, hot dogs, cake pops, candy), Mezzo Italian Cafe and Provisions (pizza by the slice), Summer Starts Here Farm (desserts), Bruster's Real Ice Cream and Second Christian Church (desserts). Beverages will be offered by Mezzo, West Sixth Brewing and the event's main sponsor, Midway Renaissance. Several stores will have extra shopping hours.

A children's activity area will include a misting tent and bubble pools, and the library will operate a kids' craft area. There will also be a balloon artist, classic cars and a cornhole game. For more information go here.

Commission approves Midway Station changes over local objections; committee keeps bypass in goals

The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a revised development plan for part of Midway Station last evening, overriding objections from Midway representative Rich Schein, who asked for a month's delay.

Later, a committee of the commission rejected an attempt to delete from the proposed goals and objectives of the county's comprehensive plan the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles, which could funnel more traffic onto Midway Road.

The revised development plan for 45 acres at the front of Midway Station uses the existing streets of the old industrial park, instead of the plan approved when Anderson Communities optioned the property from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority in 2008. Anderson had planned to redo the streets with tax-increment financing, which uses revenue from redevelopment to pay infrastructure costs, but the project didn't qualify for as much support as he, the EDA and city officials expected.

The original plan, which was based on the "new urbanism" concept of an inward-looking residential and commerical development, has now been changed to a more traditional type of development, but with lesser building setbacks than the 30 feet normally required. Under the original plan, buildings had to be constructed two feet from the property line. Now the setbacks will be 20 feet in some places and varying distances in others. The commercial area along Georgetown Road will be reoriented toward the road rather than the interior of the development.

Anderson attorney Richard Murphy told the commission that Anderson, EDA and potential buyers of the property agree that two-foot setbacks are "not really practical for Midway Station. . . . We're trying to accommodate today's needs for development."

Also, Murphy said, the 250-foot wide easement for the high-powered electric transmission line crossing the property makes some of it unavailable for development. "It's sort of a potpourri of reasons that bring us here," he told the commission.

Schein, an urban geographer, asked, "What's going to happen to the rest of Midway Station?" Murphy said he wasn't sure, but "The users we have now, in 2016, just aren't interested in going forward with the old guidelines." He said Anderson has "active prospects" and the initial development will be commercial.
Midway representative Rich Schein, at right, makes a point as Dick Murphy, attorney for Dennis Anderson, listens.
Schein said he was sympathetic, "but I still see this as a complete turning around of this project in the other direction. Honestly, it looks like Towne Centre to me." That is the Anderson development on Leestown Road in Lexington, just inside New Circle Road.

When commission member Ed McClees made a motion to approve the new plan, Schein said he wanted to delay action for a month. "There's a lot to take in here in a very short period of time," he said. "It's not clear to me how this plays out following that, and I don't want to make a hasty decision."

McClees declined to withdraw his motion, and the plan was approved with Schein and member Jim Boggs dissenting. "There seem to be too many questions," Boggs said.

During the discussion, Planning Director Pattie Wilson said the new plan is a blend of B-5 zoning and new urbanism. She said it has a "hierarchy" of building setbacks, ranging from 30 feet on Georgetown Road to 20 feet on most interior streets, but with some areas still having the two-foot setback.

Nevertheless, Schein maintained, "It will look no different than a B-5 strip development."

Bypass remains in comprehensive plan draft

Schein does not sit on the commission's Comprehensive Plan Committee, though he is Midway's sole representative on the nine-member commission. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has objected to that, saying it appeared designed to suppress opposition to including the northwest bypass of Versailles as a goal of the new plan, as proposed by Chairman J.D. Wolf.

Committee member Patty Perry said she wanted to remove the bypass as a goal of the plan and mention it in more detailed sections on land use. "It's not going to happen in the next five years, before the next update," she said, referring to Gov. Matt Bevin's removal of the project from the state road plan.

Committee chair Chad Wells said he preferred to leave the project in, for consideration by the full commission. McClees and member Tim Parrott agreed, making a majority of the five-member committee. Member Randal Bohannon did not speak but voted to approve the goals and objectives as proposed.

The full commission is expected to consider the goals and objectives next month.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Midway University growing, looking for Aug. 20 service projects for students; council OKs firearms ordinance

A growing Midway University is looking for community service work that its students can perform from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 20, as part of their orientation, the City Council heard Monday night.

In other business, the council passed an ordinance banning discharge of firearms in the city unless needed to protect person or property, and heard some financial reports from Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

The council heard from Tracy Small-Spotts, the university's director of student involvement and leadership, about the community service day, which she said is designed to correct "the slight disconnect between the university and Midway."

Small-Spotts said the school is looking for seven to 10 community-service sites, most of which could accommodate 20 to 25 students. She said the school is expecting "one of our biggest enrollments," including 150 new resident students. For the first time, some will be men, and the university has also accepted students from Saint Catharine College near Springfield, which has closed.

She said the students could clean up homes, yards, parks and so on. Council members and Vandegrift offered some suggestions for work sites and groups who might be asked to help set them up.

The firearms ordinance is needed, said Asst. Chief Mike Murray of the Versailles Police Department, which patrols all of Woodford County. The council set the penalty for violation of the ordinance at $100 to $250.

Vandegrift noted that the city ended the fiscal year with a $150,000 surplus in its general fund, with lesser surpluses in other funds. The primary reason was more than $394,000 in occupational taxes, which had been budgeted at $275,000. The main reason for that was The Homeplace at Midway, the new nursing home and assisted-living facility.

Vandegrift also reported that he had consolidated the city's information-technology services with a single contractor, which he said would be more efficient and save at least $2,000 a year.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Midway residents object to making Versailles bypass a goal of county's revised comprehensive plan

Dottie Cordray of Midway told the commission that the bypass appears “in direct opposition” to another goal of the plan
that says local governments should discourage tractor-trailer traffic from US 62. (Herald-Leader photo by Greg Kocher)
The proposed Midway bypass was a major focus of attention at a public hearing Thursday night on proposed changes to Woodford County's comprehensive plan. Several Midway residents objected to it, according to a story by Greg Kocher of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

At the behest of Planning Commission Chairman J.D. Wolf, the plan's proposed goals and objectives say the panel should "promote and encourage" the bypass, which would direct more traffic toward Midway Road, US 62. Gov. Matt Bevin dropped the $30 million project from the state's six-year road plan.

“It is a controversial proposal that has divided the community and it will always divide the community,” lawyer Hank Graddy said on behalf of the Woodford Coalition. “Fortunately, Frankfort has seen the wisdom of deleting this proposal. The planning commission should follow the lead of Frankfort.”

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he has “always firmly supported Versailles’ right to alleviate their possible traffic concerns,” but “I don’t support doing so without trying other sound suggestions which to date have been ignored and which might avoid dumping the problem on their next-door neighbor.”

Vandegrift said that if the objective is not removed from the plan, it should be changed “to express concern for the traffic issues in Versailles but not favoring a currently undoable option out of many other doable ones.”

UPDATE, July 21: Vandegrift also objected to the absence of Midway's only member on the commission, bypass opponent Rich Schein, on the subcommitee that drafted the goals and objectives. He said it "looks like a not-so-subtle attempt to remove Midway's voice from the process as much as possible," The Woodford Sun reported.

Bob Pekny, who lives on the Kentucky River, told the commission, “I feel this does not belong in the goals and objectives unless you can show data that a clear majority of the people in Woodford County think that’s what they want. I don’t think that’s the case.”

Realtor Harold Steele, a bypass advocate, said a 2010 telephone survey found that 73 percent of respondents “wanted the bypass” and “I don’t think you have to be an expert … to stand at Corner Drug (in downtown Versailles) any time during the day and not recognize that we’re in bad need of a bypass.”

But Billy Van Pelt II, CEO of Woodford Forward, "said the bypass was the lowest priority among 1,463 people who responded to a 2015 survey by that organization," Kocher reports.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Burgers & Beats picnic at Wallace Station July 17 will support GleanKY, which collects food for the hungry

Sunday, July 17 is the day for Burgers & Beats, the largest annual fundraiser for GleanKY, a six-year-old nonprofit that has saved over 950,000 pounds of produce from waste piles and distributed the food to people and groups who feed Central Kentucky’s hungry.

Burgers & Beats is a picnic-style event from 5 to 8 p.m. at Wallace Station, with food from the kitchen of chef Ouita Michel, musical entertainment from The Swells, a silent auction, and games and other activities for children. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the event; tickets for children 5 to 12 are $10. To buy tickets, call 859-444-4769 or go to the GleanKY website.

"We’re working with more organizations and people than ever before," GleanKY says. "It is our belief that no one should lack fresh produce while produce is thrown away. Proceeds from Burgers & Beats allow us to sustain this work year-round, reducing food waste and getting fresh produce to those who need it most."