Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Council gives Francisco's Farm $1,000 for next year, not the $3,000 that the arts festival requested for this year

The Midway City Council voted Monday to contribute $1,000 toward the Francisco's Farm Art Festival for next year, not the $3,000 that the festival committee had requested for this year.

Mayor Tom Bozarth said city workers would provide the assistance the committee had requested, but "I think we should raise the money from private donations, and I'll be willing to make a contribution." He said later, "We'll try to get people to donate."

Council Members Sara Hicks and Dan Roller, who are on the festival committee, abstained from voting but took part in the discussion beforehand.

Roller said the festival is being done entirely by volunteers, and the only compensation has been for the two jurors who judged the would-be exhibitors. Hicks, who is president of Midway Renaissance, the festival's main sponsor, said it is paying Midway College for use of its facilities. "They'll have their own security, but we'll also provide our own security," she said. "There's just a small core of us putting it on and we're all doing it on our own time."

Hicks said any profits from the festival "will go to something in the city of Midway," and added later, "Last year we ran in the red; the year before we gave $5,500 to the Homeplace" at Midway, the senior living community being built across Stephens Street from the college.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift complimented Hicks for the group's efforts, including bringing the festival back to the college after three years at Equus Run Vineyards, a site that did not sit well with some Midway merchants.

A $3,000 gift would have made the city a "silver sponsor" listed on promotional materials and having a free sponsor tent. Hicks noted that the city was once a sponsor of the 10-year-old festival. Bozarth said that for the festival's first year, the city issued a $5,000 check "that didn't come before the council," on which he served at the time.

Hicks noted that the festival needs T-shirts, and suggested that the city could help with that and use them to promote the city. Bozarth replied, "I think that's a little bit outside the request" that the festival committee submitted for the April 3 council meeting, at which the request was deferred.

Vandegrift said, "I think donating to that festival is money well spent. It stays in the community." Council Member Sharon Turner said, "Every donation we give open the requests for more donations." Vandegrift said Francisco's Farm and the Midway Fall Festival, staged by the merchants, differ from other events, but the latter doesn't need city money. Turner said the city needs criteria to govern such donations. She and Vandegrift are running to succeed Bozarth, who is not seeking re-election.

Hicks suggested, "What would be ideal is if the city could become a partner for 2015." Bozarth noted that the city had donated $1,000 to Midway College for speakers, and it could "start with that" for Francisco's Farm. Turner then made a motion to donate $1,000 for the 2015 festival. The vote was 4-0.

College seeks nominations for award for improving women's lives or for women role models, leaders or innovators

Midway College has created two Spotlight Awards to highlight women and men who have been leaders in representing women's issues; have made an impact that benefits women in the state of Kentucky and beyond; and innovative women in their chosen field.

The awards will be presented at a dinner Thursday, June 5, before the college's annual Reunion Weekend. The ceremony is a time for the college to honor those who have helped it, by giving them the Pinkerton Vision Award or the Midway College Legacy Award.

The College is seeking nominations from the community for the Pinkerton Vision Award. Download form here. This award honors the legacy of Dr. L.L. Pinkerton, whose vision led to the establishment of the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847 as the first formal education for orphaned girls on the site that is now Midway College. Criteria for include: (a) an individual or group (male or female) who has had a direct impact on improving the lives of women; (b) a woman who has served as an outstanding role model for women and young ladies, or (c) a woman who has displayed great leadership, innovative thinking and influence in her chosen career. The recipient must be a Kentucky native, resident or organization located in Kentucky.

A committee of college representatives will select the award recipient. The June 5 events will strat with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and awards at 7 p.m. in the Piper Dining Hall inside the McManis Student Center.

The college says all proceeds from the dinner will go to support its ongoing academic programming and student scholarships. To make a nomination, purchase tickets, become a sponsor of the event or find out more about the awards dinner, visit www.midway.edu/spotlight or call Scott Fitzpatrick at 846-5300.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Precise route of natural-gas-liquids pipeline, or at least its originally planned route, is now public knowledge

The precise proposed route of the Bluegrass Pipeline, or at least the original proposed route, is now public, thanks to The Courier-Journal, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get maps that the natural-gas-liquids enterprise filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of an application for permits to cross streams. The Louisville newspaper has published the maps on its website; those showing the route in or near the Midway area appear below, running from north to south. Note that most of the maps are tilted about 50 degrees from due north.
This map shows the pipeline leaving Scott County, entering Franklin County and crossing US 460 (Frankfort-Georgetown Road) just east of Woodlake. Most of this area is in Midway's ZIP code.
This map shows the pipeline nearing the South Fork of Elkhorn Creek, which it would cross shortly after Mile 289 of the pipeline. (Click on any map to see a larger version.)
The pipeline would cross the creek in Franklin County, then enter Woodford County, cross Leestown Road near the county line, go under Interstate 64 and take a dogleg to Duckers Road. 
The route then follows the east side of Old Frankfort Pike, crosses that road and heads west toward US 60 (Frankfort-Versailles Road), leaving the Midway ZIP code when it crosses the highway.
More maps will be added. For the story, by C-J environmental writer Jim Bruggers, click here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Planning Commission recommends City Council zone part of Midway Station industrial again; approval expected

By Kristen Sekinger and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended rezoning part of Midway Station back to industrial, signaling that the failed industrial park might generate hundreds of jobs after all.

Dennis Anderson, developer of Midway Station and the former Weems property across Interstate 64, said before Thursday evening’s meeting that the success of the Shell convenience store and the planned McDonald’s restaurant in the Green Gables development will carry over to Midway Station.

“The Shell station was a big success,” he said, and “McDonald’s is the biggest dollar money” among restaurant chains. He said more than half of the Shell store’s business comes from the interstate. The commission also approved a final development plan for Green Gables and plat for McDonald's.
Area to be rezoned industrial is outlined in purple. Residential zones are yellow. (Click on image for larger version)
Anderson is requesting that 43.5 acres on the north side of Midway Station now zoned residential be changed to light industrial. The commission’s recommendation goes to the city council, which is expected to approve it, since outgoing Mayor Tom Bozarth and the two council members running to succeed him have indicated that they support the idea of turning some of the residential tracts into job-creating properties.

Anderson’s request is at the behest of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the property and has prospective industrial buyers for the land, perhaps a supplier for the Toyota plant at Georgetown.

Anderson’s attorney, Dick Murphy, noted that the county’s comprehensive plan, adopted in 2011, calls for an increase in manufacturing jobs. “We think it will be a great benefit to the community,” Murphy said.

Multiple strategies for developing the property have failed. After the county and city borrowed millions to buy and develop the property, only four lots were sold and only three very small industries located there.

In 2007, rezoning of the property was approved for relocation of Bluegrass Stockyards from Lexington, but the company dropped the idea when it became apparent that a court challenge from opponents of the plan would delay it for years.

In 2008, burdened by debt payments on property that had generated little income, EDA and the city contracted with Anderson to create an integrated community, which included commercial and  residential zones and recreational areas. The property was rezoned again, but the recession stalled development.

“A lot of things have happened since 2008,” Murphy said. “Timing is everything. We brought that zone change to you just three months before the economy started collapsing.” He added, “Dennis, to his credit, has kept up his agreements with the Economic Development Authority and has extended those and have invested very substantial money in this property.”

In 2011, Anderson signed an agreement to buy Midway Station, under which pays the taxes on the property as well as the interest on the county and city’s debt. Later in 2011, the commission and the local governments adopted the new comprehensive plan that has as one of its goals an increase in industrial employment, which declined during the recession.

In aisle seats at commission meeting: Bozarth, Anderson, Soper
The land to be rezoned is the northernmost portion of Midway Station, and is adjacent to a tract where the small industries are located. Planning Director Pattie Wilson said there would be 54.2 acres of light industrial land if rezoned. Wilson said in the meeting that no specific users for the property “have been identified at this time.”

She also noted that traffic to and from the industrial section will have a separate entrance from the commercial and residential section. “The economics have changed,” she said, “and it appears that it would be more beneficial for the community and the property to have an area for large-lot industrial users.”

Tom Guilfoil, owner of a small industry in Midway Station, asked if the new industry or industries would have to follow the strict design standards that he had to in the first phase of development. No one answered his question, but EDA Chairman John Soper said after the meeting that those standards were repealed by the 2011 plan.

Two commission members expressed reservations about industrial zoning next to residential, but Soper told the commission, “This is probably going to be a showplace for that corporation. They’re going to want to fit in and be a positive to the community and not a detriment,” he said. “This will be a place where the people live, they work, shop, and that will contribute to the life in Midway… I think we can fit all of this together and make a unique place.”

He also said, “When we looked at the quality of the applicants and who we are talking to and what they build, I think we are satisfied.,Whoever is going to come to Woodford County is going to make a unique substantial investment because of the quality of life here and the quality of our workforce.”

Soper said Anderson is sacrificing long-term profit to convert the residential area to industrial: “He has been a great partner through this whole thing. … We’ve got obligations to the banks we need to meet, We’ve got obligations to the taxpayers that we need to meet. This is the big opportunity that we have to satisfy all of those.”

Craig McAnelly, EDA’s executive director, indicated what sort of industry might be coming. “It fits in with the automotive industry that is expanding,” he said.

Jim Beam Brands considered the property for a distribution center that recently began construction on the Midway side of Frankfort. “The economy is bouncing back right now,” McAnelly said. “It’s not just automotive bouncing back, it’s everything.”

McAnelly said after the meeting that the property has three prospective buyers. He expressed confidence that any of them would build a plant that will be compatible with the surroundings. “When we looked at the quality of the applicants and what they build, I think we’re satisfied they can do that,” he said.

Commission member Jim Boggs said after the meeting that he was were surprised the rezoning drew no opposition. Perhaps partly joking, he said, “I guess they blew it on the stockyard.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

City Council to discuss budget at 9 a.m. Monday

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall to begin discussing outgoing Mayor Tom Bozarth's proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1. A copy of the proposal, in a 1.2-mb PDF, is available by clicking here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Judge declines to seal suit against Midway College, says he would consider request for specific documents

By Bridget Slone
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A judge denied Midway College’s request Wednesday to seal public records of a lawsuit filed by seven former employees claiming breach of contract and age discrimination.

Leila O’Carra, an attorney for the college, had filed a motion asking the court to “seal the entire record in this case” in an attempt to prevent “sensitive” financial documents that could cause the college “significant harm” from being released to the public.

According to the lawsuit filed last month, the seven plaintiffs received letters from the college “on or around” Sept. 20, 2013, informing them that “due to alleged financial hardships” it was terminating its contracts on the grounds of lack of “available funding.”  

In the hearing at the Woodford County Courthouse, Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs, right, said the college’s motion to seal the entire record when the case “hasn’t even started” is “extreme.”

O’Carra argued that the legitimate public interest in the case is “minimal” since the dispute relates solely to the employment relationship between the college and the plaintiffs and there are no allegations implicating the public safety or health and, as a result, the judge should exercise the broad discretion that the law gives him to seal the entire record.

Isaacs said he was hesitant to do so because the same discretion would be sought by other businesses.

O’Carra replied that the college’s interests were “compelling” since it wants to seal financial information and because she does not “think the public interest,” in regards to these particular documents, “is affected.”

O’Carra also argued that the sealing of the records would be important in protecting those who are not parties in the suit.

 “You’re asking me to seal documents I haven’t seen,” said Isaacs, noting that he could not know if the documents present a privacy issue if he has not seen them.

Isaacs also said the college’s motion to seal the entire record suggests there “might be something embarrassing to the college” and that is why it wants to close it off from the public.

While Isaacs did overrule the motion, he also said he would “entertain the idea” of sealing specific documents within the case that contained sensitive financial information.

The plaintiffs Richard Berry, 61; Eric Bolland, 66; Stephen Clark, 65; Francis Fletcher, 61; former Lexington mayor Teresa Isaac, 58; Wendy Hoffman, 57; and Saleem Mirza, 52, allege that they did not seek employment anywhere else because they relied on the contracts presented to them in May 2013 and were never advised that those contracts would be terminated.

Midway College also filed a motion seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs’ “promissory estoppel/detrimental reliance” count of the lawsuit. The college argues that because the plaintiffs are also claiming breach of contract they cannot also claim promissory estoppel and “as a matter of law” it “must be dismissed.”

The college has also asked for more time to respond to the suit so that it can make its “response only to those claims that remain pending after the court rules on the motion to dismiss” the estoppel count.

Isaacs did not rule on this motion, but did imply that he agreed with the college’s argument and would dismiss the estoppel count.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Zoning board votes 3-1 to allow McDonald's to have a 50-foot-tall sign on its lot in Green Gables development

The Golden Arches will tower over Midway.

The Woodford County Board of Zoning Adjustment voted 3-1 Monday night to allow McDonald's Corp. to erect a 50-foot-tall sign on the lot where it plans to build a restaurant, in the Green Gables development formerly known as the Weems property. The normal limit for an on-premise sign is 40 feet.

McDonald's is also expected to rent space from the state to put
its golden-arches logo sign on the services sign in this photo.
Gust Mecera, a McDonald's representative from Columbus, Ohio, told the board that the sign needed to be 50 feet high to be visible from eastbound Interstate 64. The company expects most of the restaurant's business will come from the interstate.

Mecera provided the board several photographs of a dummy sign hung from a boom truck showing the visibility of the proposed height. The captions said that the sign would not be visible half a mile from the eastbound exit, but would be visible a quarter-mile from it. Photos of the westbound approach, from which the sign would be even more visible, did not indicate the distance from the westbound exit. For those photos, in a 4-mb PDF, click here.

Board Member Marjorie Evans of Versailles questioned whether the variance would set a precedent, but Board Chairman Tim Turney and Member Al Schooler of Midway said each request is judged independently and the board shouldn't base a decision of what might happen. Schooler moved to approve the variance and Evans voted against it.

The board's action is final. Variances do not have to be approved by the Planning Commission. McDonald's has not applied for a building permit, but its request for the sign variance, and the board's approval of it, appears to pave the way for the Golden Arches.

Developer Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities said the variance was one of several things McDonald's wants before proceeding, but he said the negotiations are far enough along that an agreement between the two companies has been drafted.

This story will be expanded.