Friday, August 12, 2016

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.

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