Thursday, February 18, 2016

Planning Commission chair says Versailles bypass should be in revised plan; councilman Roller disagrees

The chair of the county planning commission said at a public hearing tonight that the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles, recently deleted from the state road plan, should be included as a goal or objective in Woodford County's comprehensive plan.

J.D. Wolf made the statement at the end of a hearing on the goals and objectives of the plan, which is up for its five-year revision. He spoke as an observer; the hearing was held by the Comprehensive Plan Committee of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission.

Wolf said an engineering study in 1999 determined that if more roads weren't built, "Versailles would be a traffic jam." Advocates of the bypass say it is needed because of downtown traffic congestion, and Wolf said, "I just think that ought to be part of the comprehensive plan."

Earlier, developer Harold Steele said the road should be part of the comprehensive plan, which guides zoning decisions.

Helen Rentch of Midway spoke at the hearing as
Commission Chair J.D. Wolf (blue shirt) watched.
Many in Midway oppose the project because it would funnel more traffic onto Midway Road. City Council Member Dan Roller, who was in the audience, said after the meeting, "I don't understand why the only solution for transportation is a 39-million-dollar project."

Roller repeated his earlier suggestion that trucks going to and from the Versailles industrial park be routed away from downtown with signs. "Nobody's spending any time to do the simple solution," he said. "Most of the time you could shoot an arrow straight down Main Street and not hit anybody."

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, who was the second of a dozen other speakers, had been a leading supporter of the bypass but did not mention it in his remarks. However, he did call for "flexibility" that would allow the commission to change the plan between five-year revisions.

Midway residents Helen Rentch and Joyce Evans mentioned other issues at the hearing.

Rentch said the plan should have affordable housing as one of its goals. "In Midway we don't have sufficient housing to support our workforce," she said.

She also said the plan should include housing standards that reflect the needs of an aging population, and she joined Traugott in endorsing the development of trails for walkers, runners and non-motorized vehicles.

Evans reflected the preservationist stance of most speakers, saying surveys have shown that Woodford County residents "want to protect the urban land and the farmland from each other."

Committee chair Chad Wells said the record would remain open for comments and he would schedule a work session for the committee in "the next few weeks."

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