Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fiscal Court OKs 'tourist destination' zoning, reduces speed limit on Weisenberger Mill Road near bridge

By Melody Bailiff and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Last night the Woodford County Fiscal Court gave final passage to two zoning ordinances allowing and regulating "tourist destinations" in the agricultural and light industrial zones of the county's unincorporated areas.

Midway Magistrate Larry Craig again cast the only vote against the amendments. Magistrate Bruce Gill abstained, saying he was “a vocal participant” in a hearing by the Planning Commission, which recommended the ordinances. He supported them.

The ordinances would not take effect in Midway unless approved by the City Council, which has twice delayed action on them, waiting to see what Fiscal Court would do. Mayor Tom Bozarth said in an interview that he didn’t think Midway has any A-1 or I-2 zones to which the ordinances would effectively apply, but thinks it is probably better for the council to approve the ordinances so zoning rules are consistent in the city and its surrounding area.

The Midway zoning map shows that part of Midway Station in the northeast part of the city limits, a former industrial park that has been rezoned for commercial and residential development, is zoned A-1 (the areas in green). The city’s old sewage treatment plant is zoned I-2 and two very small areas next to it, one adjoining the new plant, are zoned A-1. There is another small A-1 area on the eastern edge of the city, which is almost completely surrounded by A-1 zoning. UPDATE and clarification: None of the tracts in the city meet the 30-acre minimum in the definition. For a large PDF of the map, click here.

Craig said after the meeting there was an effort to sway Fiscal Court toward a “no” vote by citizens who wrote letters and spoke at meetings expressing concern about the definitions of “tourist destination” and “tourist destination expanded.”

The ordinances define “tourist destination” as “a unique, regionally recognized, existing landmark or historic structure that is primarily known for its existing architectural significance and/or uniqueness which promote(s) tourism and the overall economy, which naturally draw(s) the general public as a destination,” subject to criteria and limitations set out in the ordinance.

A “landmark” is defined as “any site, building, structure, or natural feature that has visual, historic or cultural significance.” That definition was added after opponents said it was needed, but they said it was still too vague and could apply to most buildings in the agricultural zone.

Generally, the ordinance says “Tourist destinations provide for the rehabilitation and productive re-use of structures . . . in the rural areas of Woodford County, thus promoting tourism and the overall economy, while allowing for the continued use of the subject property for agricultural purposes, if any, and preservation of the landmark or historic structure.” They must cover at least 30 acres and front a state or federal highway.

The criteria and limitations allow a restaurant of up to 75 seats and lodging of up to 10 rooms, more if authorized by the Board of Adjustment. Those provisions come under “tourist definition expanded,” which allows the ability to host more than seven special events, such as charitable fund-raisers and weddings, per week as determined by the Agricultural Advisory Review Committee. The events must be 300 feet from any property line, music cannot be played after 11 p.m. and lighting must be shielded. For the full criteria and limitations, click here.

Bozarth said the ordinances were designed to help the Castle Post on Lexington Road near the Fayette County line get a restaurant. They could also provide legal underpinning to the public tours offered by Woodford County horse farms, including Three Chimneys near Midway.

The Castle Post has scheduled an event for Saturday night. The Woodford County Rotary Club is hosting a fundraiser for the Woodford County Backpack Project and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, starting at 7 p.m. It will include dinner, a drink ticket and a live band.

Among other business, Magistrate Bruce Gill announced the shooting for the “Uniquely Woodford” promotional video discussed for the past two years will be done in April and production will be finished in June. He said there are seven areas have been selected for inclusion the video, although he did not list them.

The video is a project of the three local governments and Woodford Tomorrow, a group interested in how the county develops. Gill, a member of the group, said the group will make a presentation about its goals and principles to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority at its regular meeting Friday, Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. in the Fiscal Court meeting room.

No comments: