By Emily Priddy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
On Thursday evening, the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission recommended goals and objectives including the proposed northwest Versailles bypass that could funnel traffic onto U.S. 62 and into Midway.
With a 5-3 vote the commission approved the plan, which will now go to the county’s legislative bodies for deliberation. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift is planning a public forum in the coming weeks on the issue.
The bypass has long been a point of contention, and Midway citizens and their government have voiced opposition to it.
|Chad Wells, chair of the planning commission Comprehensive Plan|
Committee, listens as Rich Schein, Midway's sole member on the
commission, speaks. At right is commission member Patty Perry.
Richard Schein, Midway’s sole representative on the commission, made his argument against the bypass, arguing it should be put in the comprehensive plan and left out of the goals and objectives. “Projects do not belong in the goals and objectives” of the plan, he said.
Schein was not appointed to the subcommittee that drafted the goals and objectives, drawing an objection from Vandegrift.
Schein was not the only member of the commission who objected to the proposal.
Referring to this year's removal of the project from the state road plan, Commissioner Jim Boggs said,“This is a dead horse. Some people and some politicians want to wash its mane and clean its tail out and make it think it’s still alive, but it ain’t.”
Boggs added that the addition of another four-lane highway in the county had been discussed for 15 to 20 years with no success, and to promote it further would put the commission in a “dumb” position.
Commission member Patty Perry said, “I don’t think the extension of KY 2113 belongs in the goals and objectives.”
Schein argued that the commission should listen to public opinion on the bypass because it is “charged as a public body.” He said two public hearings and a community survey on the goals and objectives indicated what the community wants.
“With the exception of three people persistently in the public hearings, nobody spoke in favor of a bypass in the public record,” Schein said.
Another argument against the bypass was keeping the integrity of the county park it would bisect. “Look at all the entities that are in there, and we want to build a four-lane highway down the middle of it?” Boggs asked. “Look at how our park is expanding -- and we want to destroy it.”
Schein, a geography professor at the University of Kentucky, said past engineering studies do not all support a bypass: “Those engineering studies are ambiguous.” He said some of the studies are from the 1950s and 1960s when many American cities were building bypasses, but they regret it today.
Schein did acknowledge that there is a traffic problem in downtown Versailles. “This is the story of the hollowing out of American cities . . . the building of bypasses across the country,” he said, adding that the answer may a bypass southeast of Versailles instead.
Despite these objections, with the 5-3 vote the proposal will move forward to the legislative bodies with the bypass language intact. The Midway City Council can choose to adopt or leave out the bypass in the proposal.
“We can adopt the goals and objectives as is but remove some items that we don’t approve of,” Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in an interview after the meeting. He said the council plans to hold a public forum within the next three weeks to allow Midway citizens to voice their opinions on the goals and objectives.
“They don’t have to have the same version throughout the county,” said the commission’s legal counsel, Tim Butler.
The goals and objectives provide the basis for final planning and zoning decisions by the legislative bodies in their own jurisdictions, but Midways sole rejection of the bypass would not affect the decisions made by the city and county.