Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EDA and developer want to return 37 acres of Midway Station to industrial zoning, from residential

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

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority plans to rezone part of Midway Station back to its original industrial form.

The plans came to light at the EDA board meeting Friday, when Chairman John Soper said developer Dennis Anderson would file an application to rezone 37 acres on the back of the property east of the water tower. That tract, which adjoins an existing industrial zone, is a little less than half the land in Midway Station that is zoned for single-family housing.
Industrial zone is in purple; 37 acres that would be rezoned industrial is outlined in purple. (Click image to enlarge)
Soper and Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth said industrial prospects have already been on the property, and public reaction to the prospect of industrializing it has been positive. Bozarth said after the meeting that Toyota’s addition of a Lexus line at its Georgetown plant creates the possibility of supplier plants in the area.

The Midway City Council has authority over zone changes, after hearings by the county planning and zoning commission.

The council rezoned the property for residential and commercial development in 2008 after the idea of Midway Station as an industrial park failed and the EDA signed a deal to sell the property to Anderson Communities once it was rezoned and its initial construction plans were approved.

Anderson has not developed the property, citing the uncertain economy, but has paid the interest, approximately $10,000 a month, on the city and county’s $4.7 million in debt on the property. Selling part of it for industry would help pay down the debt and reduce the need for immediate residential and commercial development.

Bozarth expressed confidence that Midway Station will be developed because it is a “good piece of property.”

Reducing the amount of residential property in the development was an idea mentioned by Council Member Grayson Vandegrift in November when he said he was going to run for mayor.

Vandegrift said he would like to de-emphasize residential development at Midway Station and include more “light industries,” like distribution centers, to create more jobs, which would raise occupational tax revenues. “We need jobs, not homes,” he said.

Council Member Sharon Turner, who is running for mayor against Vandegrift in the November general election, said Wednesday that she thinks change in plans is a good thing partly because Anderson is developing a smaller tract across Interstate 64 from Midway Station. “Now that you have, for example, the Shell station and a fast-food restaurant [Subway] coming to the Weems property, businesses are looking at it as a more business-friendly area,” she said.

Turner said officials approved the residential and commercial development because the attempt to attract industry had failed. “I think we all wanted residential . . . because we didn’t see hopes for anything else,” she said. She said since the Shell station has opened, “the exit is a viable exit, it makes sense to go industrial,” because services are being developed near the site.

Turner said she has high hopes that business at Midway Station will start moving, “now that we have somebody that’s really stepped out. . . . Once you bring people that are actually physically working there, it changes the whole scheme of the whole park.”

The approved plan for the Weems property calls for a hotel, two restaurants and a small retail store. Last May, Anderson said he had talked to the representatives of hotel chains, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dollar General and Family Dollar about coming to the property.

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