Monday, September 29, 2008

Council votes 5-1 to turn failed industrial park into residential and commercial development

By Ana Clegg
Community Journalism
University of Kentucky

The vote is in. Five of the six Midway City Council members were in favor tonight of re-zoning the Midway Station industrial park to a commercial and residential property.

After a two-and-a-half hour council meeting at City Hall, in which the council heard from lawyers on both sides and from members of the Midway community, the industrial park will be re-zoned.

Each citizen had only a minute and a half to voice opinion for or against the re-zoning. Most members of the community used the allotted time, while others ran out of time and Mayor Tom Bozarth cut them off. Most were against the proposal, saying Midway would lose its uniqueness.

Marcella Long said she would like to see more stores in Midway. Her story included a personal example of when she was trying to hang a picture in her home she couldn’t find a nail and had to drive another county over to get one nail.

Speaking longer were Henry W. “Hank” Graddy III, attorney for the Woodford Coalition, a group of neighborhood organizations active in land-use issues, and Richard Murphy, lawyer for developer Dennis Anderson. They took questions from council members about what the commercial part would include. Their answers included a wine vineyard, health-care facility and a reception hall.

Woodford County Fiscal Court Magistrate Gerald Dotson of Versailles said he was for the re-zoning because he wants the county stop paying the $508 a day in debt service on Midway Station, which has attracted little development. It has only three property owners. The city makes an identical payment.

Nick Bentley, a real-estate broker and developer who lived in Midway for 20 years and still has property in the town, said the residential development would “soften the rental market and de-value the real estate re-sale market … and Midway will go bankrupt.”

The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the re-zoning on the condition that no more than 50 homes be built each year. The development plan calls for just over 600 homes. That could double the population of Midway, which was 1,620 in 2000.

Diana Queen was the only council member to vote against the re-zoning. Generally, supporters of the re-zoning said it would bring more jobs to Midway.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dancing Dog Design joins ranks of retailers

By Ana Clegg

Dwayne Cobb has turned his hobby of jewelry making into a fulltime job. (Photo by Ana Clegg)

Cobb, 47, who’s the new owner of Dancing Dog Design at 101-B Main Street in Midway, started producing pottery, sculptures and jewelry when he attended the University of Kentucky. He gave the store its name because of a beagle named Ginger he owned when he was a teenager.

After undergraduate school, Cobb went on to seek a master’s degree in sculpting, but decided to go out into the working world before he finished. After 18 years of working for Hunter Manufacturing in Lexington as a manager of research and development, the company downsized and he was left looking for another job. (Read more)

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Midway Living History Day scheduled Oct. 25

Midway Living History Day is an informal ‘show-and-tell’ affair, with displays showcasing a variety of artifacts, photographs, and documents primarily from the private collections of citizens. The displays planned include the histories of Midway’s African American schools and churches, Midway College, the cemeteries, the railroad, the Midway Historic District, various historic farms, audio and video history projects, and much more.

More than 20 organizations and individuals are scheduled to present. Owners of the historical items will be on hand to discuss their collections and their knowledge of Midway’s history. We want to hear your stories, too! Midway Renaissance will offer free on-site scanning of historic documents and photographs related to Midway. For more information on the Annual Membership Meeting, Midway Living History Day, and other projects of Midway Renaissance Inc., click here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Magistrate urges rezoning, threatens funding

By the Community Journalism class
School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

If the Midway City Council doesn't rezone Midway Station, Woodford County might stop paying debt service on the failed industrial park, a magistrate said at last week's Fiscal Court meeting, The Woodford Sun reports tonight. (The Sun does not publish stories online.)

"The citizens of Midway need to understand that they are paying double for this debt -- county taxes and Midway city taxes," Magistrate Gerald Dotson said. He added that the proposed residential and commercial development is the only option for the local governments.

If the council votes down the rezoning, continuing a controversy that has raged for almost two years, Dotson said he would "personally have difficulty in voting to pay any other interest past Nov. 1" and might lobby the other court members to do likewise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

City council postpones lawyers' arguments on Midway Station rezoning, votes to hear public

Again voting 4-3, the Midway City Council decided tonight to put off a decision on rezoning Midway Station to give citizens a chance to comment in a public forum on the proposal to turn the failed industrial park into a residential and commercial development that could double the size of the town.

Mayor Tom Bozarth broke a tie, passing Council Member Charlann Wombles' motion to postpone until Sept. 29 a hearing in which lawyers will make arguments -- and add to that meeting's agenda the opportunity for citizens to comment. Members Diana Queen and Aaron Hamilton voted in favor of the motion; Sheila Redmond, Sharon Turner and Matt Warfield voted against it.

At the start of tonight's meeting, Bozarth asked lawyers for both sides to allow comments from the public. Both objected on procedural grounds. Richard Murphy, attorney for Lexington developer Dennis Anderson, said that would be unfair to Anderson because the room was filled with people opposing the rezoning. Murphy said he had told supporters of the change not to come because only lawyers were supposed to speak to the council.

Hank Graddy, attorney for the Woodford Coalition, a group of neighborhood organizations active in land-use issues, said he had to agree with Murphy on the procedural point, but said the council needed to hold a formal, trial-type hearing to hear from the public. (He said after the meeting that speakers at such hearings traditionally are not sworn but must be subject to cross-examination.)

Wombles then moved for an argument-type hearing with public comments, "so anyone in this community who wishes to be heard will be heard." She said she was responding to the pleas of citizens and "in keeping with the democratic principles we all hold so dear." Queen agreed, saying “It is our duty to seek, hear, and welcome the different perspectives of Midway.”

Bozarth said city officials have heard plenty of comments outside public meetings. "I can't say anybody has been denied an ear, because we've been there and we've been listening," he said.

Queen said she didn't understand "what the downside is" to another hearing and still wasn't confident that citizens knew they might not have another chance for public comment after the county zoning commission hearing in Midway on May 29. The commission recommended rezoning on the condition that no more than 50 homes be built each year. Anderson's plan calls for more than 600 homes, plus commercial development.

City attorney Phil Moloney said speakers at the Sept. 29 meeting should be limited to comments on the record from the zoning hearing. Queen said it was "a pretty high standard" to expect citizens to know the contents of that record. Wombles said those who spoke at the hearing had to limit their comments to zoning issues, and she wanted a broader discussion.

In interviews after the meeting, Midway residents showed eagerness to express and hear different viewpoints about the rezoning. Former Mayor Becky Moore said, “It is ridiculous we have to ask our public officials to take time out of their busy schedules to hear the community residents.”

Thirty-three year Midway resident Sally Kinnaird said doubling the size of any community means profound change. “My fear is the services our city will have to provide to the new growth will bankrupt us,” she said. “We can’t double our city without complications.” Supporters of the rezoning say it would generate sufficient revenues and relieve the city of debt service on the industrial park, $509 per day.

Megan Wimpy, a Community Journalism student at the University of Kentucky, contributed to this story.