Monday, November 7, 2016

Anderson won't build housing at Midway Station; site to be industrial, commercial, professional offices

Midway Station will be an industrial park after all, without any residential development, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the Midway City Council tonight.

"We have just learned from Dennis Anderson that he is not going to build residential homes in Midway Station," Vandegrift said. Anderson is the Lexington developer who holds an option on most of the property, owned by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority.

EDA Chair John Soper told the council that the agency and Anderson would seek rezoning of the property back to industrial, except 37 acres near Georgetown Road where Anderson plans a commercial development, including 8 to 11 acres zoned for professional offices.

Midway Station was developed for industry in the 1990s. After it attracted only a handful of jobs, and the city and county were burdened by the debt incurred to buy and develop the property, and an attempt to relocate Bluegrass Stockyards to the site failed, EDA optioned it to Anderson and had it rezoned for residential and commercial use. Then the Great Recession hit, and Anderson agreed to make the payments on the debt to maintain his option.

Dennis Anderson (2014 photo)
When the economy bounced back, Anderson planned to redevelop the property with tax-increment financing, which pledges the increased tax revenue from a property to pay the debt for redeveloping its public infrastructure. After state officials said the property qualified only for use of revenue from property taxes, not payroll taxes, Anderson said he wouldn't use TIF after all.

Meanwhile, the property and adjoining land on Georgetown Road had attracted interest from industries, and American Howa Kentucky began building an auto-parts plant that will open soon, employing about 60 people.

Then Lakeshore Learning Materials decided to locate a 262-employee distribution center in Midway Station, and when it almost backed out for lack of natural gas, state and local officials arranged for a big gas line, which Vandegrift said makes the entire property more attractive.

Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher asked, "How much are we going to charge Dennis Anderson to tap on to gas?" Soper said, "That's a question for Columbia Gas," which is paying one-fourth of the line's $2.8 million cost. The city is contributing $450,000 over five years to the project.

Vandegrift said of Anderson's announcement, "I think we sort of had an inkling this was coming. . . . One could reasonably argue that was never a good place to build homes to begin with," near factories and large electric transmission lines.

Soper said, "It just didn't make economic sense" for Anderson, but for industry, "Midway Station is at the right place."

Vandegrift said Anderson still wants to build homes in Midway, and later he said the city needs to encourage more housing. After the meeting, he said, "At some point, with all those jobs, we need to look at building a few more houses, and maybe they ought to be affordable houses," he said.

The mayor said some people in town don't want more residential development, but he would like to see the population of 1,700 "creep up to two thousand" with the help of some of the new plant workers, who would see advantages to living and working in the same city, to which they will be paying payroll taxes.

The council heard first reading of an ordinance to annex 33.485 acres behind the two plants, between Georgetown Road and the southwest corner of the property bought by Brown-Forman Corp. for new whiskey warehouses. Soper said part of the property is likely to be bought by Lakeshore for expansion, and "part is to control what's around them," perhaps a site for one of their suppliers.

Animal trap ordinance: The council also heard first reading of an ordinance on animal traps, designed to discourage more unfortunate incidents like the death of a pet cat in a trap set for groundhogs.

The proposed ordinance reads, "The means used in removing or evicting any animal, wildlife or pests . . . shall not result in the contemporaneous harming or death of a domestic animal or household pet," and says a copy shall be given to any animal-control business applying for a license in the city.

Stewart Surgener, whose cat was killed by the trap, told the council that it should allow only non-lethal traps. The ordinance, which could be amended, is scheduled for second reading and possible passage at the council's next meeting, Nov. 21.

Part of sidewalk to be replaced at 101 S. Winter St.
Sidewalks: Vandegrift reported that all three property owners offered city subsidies to fix their dangerous sidewalks have accepted and are getting bids. Five properties are involved: 100, 101 and 105 S. Winter St., 117 W. Bruen St. and 106 S. Gratz St.

Appointments: The council approved Vandegrift's appointment of Joanna Smith of Northridge Estates to the city's new Park Board, and of a new Trail Town Committee: Pam and Randy Thomas, Helen Rentch and Council Members Sara Hicks and Dan Roller (who is going off the council). Vandegrift said the committee would explore the possibility of connecting Midway with trails in Scott and Fayette counties.

Surplus property: The council approved a resolution declaring as surplus property the old house in the Midway Cemetery. That will allow the city to put the house up for bids, with the bidder to remove it. Hicks asked that the bidder be allowed a limited time to accomplish the removal, and city attorney Phil Moloney said that could be one of the bid specifications.

Event permits: The council approved permits for the next annual Iron Horse Half Marathon, to be run Oct. 15, 2017, and for a new 5-kilometer event, RaceRise, to benefit the Midway Ministerial Association, on New Year's Day.

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