Monday, November 28, 2011

Property Maintenance Committee to met at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the branch library

The Midway Property Maintenance Committee will meet Tuesday evening, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodford County Library Midway Branch, 400 Northside Drive. The purposes of the meeting are to prepare recommendations on the inspection process and office procedures, discuss proposed legislation and citizen offers of assistance with Main Street properties. As with all City Council and Property Maintenance Committee meetings, the meeting is open to the public.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Comprehensive plan mostly approved; equine preserve remains, parkway reference deleted

By Nate Courtney
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The county planning commission voted Thursday night to adopt a new land-use plan that keeps the protection the agricultural-equine preserve in the northern part of Woodford County.

In addition to the ag-equine protection, the commission voted to delete any mention of extending the Bluegrass Parkway to Interstate 64, a project that would have to go through northeast Woodford County and some of the richest soil and horse farms in Kentucky.

But the commission did vote to include extension of Falling Springs Boulevard to U.S. 60 and Midway Road – the only issue Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth spoke about at the public hearing on the plan a week earlier.

Bozarth said then that extending Falling Springs Boulevard would “adversely affect the city of Midway, all of the farms, and anyone who travels Midway Road regularly” because it would “put more traffic on Midway Road.”

But commission Chair Brian Traugott said this road extension was in the state’s six-year road plan and “to ignore that fact was not proper planning.”

In his column in tonight's Woodford Sun, Bozarth, a bloodstock agent, said the commission "made the right decisions," and specifically mentioned the equine preserve.

Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman, who had endorsed the entire plan at the hearing, said Thursday night that the Bluegrass Parkway extension “had been talked about for 30 years” and didn’t think it would be built “in his lifetime or the lifetime of his kids.”

Several residents at the hearing complained that the commission had not made clear its reasons for the changes and that the speakers could not engage the commissioners in direct conversation. At Thursday's meeting only the commissioners spoke; Traugott, David Floyd and Jim Boggs, read prepared statements.

After reading his statement and motion, Traugott defended the plan, saying he’s concerned about the lack of manufacturing jobs in the county and that the county’s number of people 60 and older rose 45 percent from 2000 to 2010.

“These facts do not bode well for our future,” he said.

Still, Traugott has not lost his since of humor.

He said he got “one positive email,” saying, “The revisions to the comp plan were well thought out and I loved your editorial in The Woodford Sun. Love, Mom.”

The protections for the equine preserve were the commission’s biggest obstacle in passing the land-use plan.

In a post-meeting interview Traugott said that the commission never wanted “anything bad to happen to the horse farms” and added he was “very pleased with the vote.”

For a copy of Traugott's four-page motion to approve the plan, click here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Renaissance offers volunteers to pick up Nov. 19 cleanup-day items, pay for disposal of 100 tires

The Midway Renaissance Greenspace committee is offering support to the city of Midway’s Nov. 19 trash collection day.

Citizens who are not able to deliver articles to the old sewage treatment plant can call City Hall and arrange for Greenspace volunteers to load and transport their articles.

In an effort to promote the recycling of old tires, Greenspace will pay the 8-cent-per-pound tire disposal charge for the first 100 rimless tires registered by a phone call to City Hall. Interested citizens can call and give their name, address and number of tires. The registered tires will be picked up and delivered to the recycling center by Greenspace volunteers.

Property maintenance panel sets agenda for Tue.

The Midway Property Maintenance Committee will meet at the Midway Baptist Church Ministry Center, 121 S. Winter St., Tuesday evening, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m. The committee will hear a speaker on preventing property invasions by wildlife, review an updated property list, and discuss proposed legislation, the inspection process and a citizen offer of assistance with Main Street properties.

As with all City Council and Property Maintenance Committee meetings, the meeting is open to the public.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Midway, Woodford among places that favored Galbraith over Williams in election for governor

Gatewood Galbraith
Independent gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith beat Republican nominee David Williams in four counties in Tuesday's election, including Woodford County, where Galbraith came in second in most precincts, including the City of Midway.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear got 3,632 votes in the county, or 51 percent, while Galbraith received 1,771 (25 percent) and Williams tallied 1,674 (24 percent).

In the Midway city precinct, the vote was Beshear 296, or 58 percent; Galbraith 123, about 24 percent; and Williams 90, just under 18 percent. (Galbraith's best precincts in the county were High School, 33 percent, and Nonesuch, 32 percent.)

In the Midway county precinct, outside the city limits, Beshear got 157 (58.6 percent), Williams 59 (22 percent) and Galbraith 52 (19.4 percent). The other Woodford precincts in which Galbraith placed third were the Depot Street Community Center and the two Huntertown School precincts.

Other counties where Galbraith placed second were Franklin, home of his running mate for lieutenant governor, Dea Riley; Nicholas, his home county; and Bourbon, between Nicholas and Fayette County, where he lives and practices law. In Fayette, he placed a close third, with 22 percent of the county's vote. For all counties' results, click here.

Interviews with voters in South Lexington suggested that much of Galbraith's vote came from Republicans who were unhappy with Williams. For that story, by University of Kentucky journalism student Lauren Forsythe, click here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lexington-Louisville cooperation plan is not about development along Interstate 64, Jim Host says

By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Efforts by Lexington and Louisville to cooperate in economic development, selling the two metropolitan areas as a "super region," might seem to raise some issues for places between them, particularly places on Interstate 64, such as Midway, and especially in light of the new comprehensive plan proposed for Woodford County.

The leader of the project is Jim Host, left, the Lexington sports entrepreneur who impressed just about everyone with his supervision of the construction of Louisville's KFC Yum Center. When Host spoke to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council on Tuesday, he cited the Dallas-Fort Worth area as an example of a an economic super-region. He should stop that, the Lexington Herald-Leader said in an editorial.

"The image it conjures of miles of urban sprawl is an instant turnoff to many of the people whose support the regional effort will need," the newspaper said. "In fact, the committee that Host will chair should make it clear early on that preserving the rural character of the corridor between Lexington and Louisville is a priority," the editorial said. "The last thing they need is an anywhere-USA vista of glass high-rises and chain restaurants running the length of Interstate 64."

Since Midway is surrounded by some of the world's best farmland, has a white elephant of an industrial park on the other side of I-64 from the rest of the town, and may be governed by a land-use plan that could encourage traffic and road-building in its environs, we wondered what implications the Louisville-Lexington effort might have for Midway.

"This is not about us filling the gap between here and Louisville with a bunch of manufacturing plants or anything else," Host told me in an interview. "It's about teaching people how to use technology." He said Dallas and Fort Worth are connected not just by I-20 and other roads, but by education, and a major focus of his effort is to get the state's two major universities to collaborate on engineering projects and reshape the state's education system to create a more solid foundation for that.

"This doesn't have anything to do with any Woodford County industrial sites," Host said. He said the 15-member board of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement will include the presidents of the two universities and the owner of a small business in Shelbyville. (Full disclosure: Host is a contributor and fund-raiser for the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which I run.)

Beverly Fortune reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's speech to the Lexington Rotary Club: "For too long, Lexington and Louisville have spent energy on college sports rivalries and differences that separate them, rather than looking at resources they share, Fischer said. With teamwork, the state can get ahead, he said. The goal of the economic initiative is to create high-quality jobs and to increase exports by making Kentucky a global center of excellence in advanced manufacturing." (Read more)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Big majority at public hearing object to removing Equine Preserve from county's land-use plan

By Nate Courtney
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The overwhelming majority of local residents who spoke to the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night, Nov. 3, were against removing the Agricultural-Equine Preserve district from the proposed new Comprehensive Plan.

Over and over, those at the courthouse hearing said development of the northern part of the county would destroy land that Mary Ann McCauley said has the “richest soil in the world.” (Map: limited-capability soils in dark gray; click map for larger image)

“To remove the protection from our Agricultural Equine Preserve is to set up for the destruction of one of our most valuable assets – our soil,” McCauley told the commission. “We got the goose that’s laying the golden egg. Don’t kill that goose, for if we do we’ll be left with a dirty nest.”

Community residents acknowledged that rural development might create jobs, but some asked, at what cost to the rest of the community?

Magistrate Larry Craig, who represents Midway on the Woodford County Fiscal Court, asked, “If we do away with one agricultural job to promote a new business job, what are we accomplishing?”

The elected Fiscal Court has no say over adoption of the Comprehensive Plan. That is up the commission, which is appointed by the three local governments. It could vote on it as early as Thursday, Nov. 10.

Some of speakers also objected to the plan’s suggestion that Falling Springs Boulevard be extended to the south end of Midway Road to form a southwestern bypass of Versailles, and that consideration be given to extending the Bluegrass Parkway to Interstate 64. Both could affect Midway.

The commission allowed each resident to speak for three minutes about the proposed plan but direct dialogue was not allowed between the speakers and commission members. Some speakers wanted to know why the commission would remove the Ag-Equine Preserve, in which residential subdivisions are all but banned.

Commission Chair Brian Traugott told The Woodford Sun about a month ago that removing the district “was driven by an effort to put all agriculture in Woodford County on a fair plane.” Pattie Wilson, the county planning director, said at the start of the hearing that the plan would still require residential lots in agricultural areas to be at least 30 acres.

But residents from both the northern and southern part of the county suggested a different tack: extend the preserve to the whole county, instead of removing it. (Map: County geology by rock units, with evenly bedded limestone in green; click for larger image)

“It would be just as fair to all the farmers and land owners to extend protection to the south end of the county as it would be to remove it from the northern part,” said Evan Miller, a farmer on the south end.

Hank Graddy, a Midway attorney and farm owner, agreed, reminding the commission that 20 years ago residents in the north wanted “greater protection” and “went road to road to gain 90 percent support to create the Ag-Equine Preserve.” That percentage of landowners in the district had to agree in order for it to be created.

Part of the compromise allowing the preserve was to allow cluster residential development in the southern part of the county. “I would support efforts to make it fair for north and south,” Graddy said, by making the preserve countywide.

Graddy called the proposed plan “a slap in the face of our productive farmers that wish to continue farming and thoroughbred industry,” and said, “It is out of step with the will of the overwhelming majority of people on this community.”

The crowd of about 100 gave Graddy lengthy applause after a loud buzzer signaled the end of his three minutes.

Photo by Dick Yarmy
(from city council meeting)
Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth, left, a bloodstock agent, expressed concerns only about the extension of Fallings Springs Boulevard, saying it would put more traffic on Midway Road (US 62). That would “will adversely affect the city of Midway, all the farms, and anyone who travels Midway Road,” Bozarth said. “It is a small road with little shoulders.” 

Lori Garkovich, a University of Kentucky professor and Woodford County resident for 28 years, also expressed concerns regarding the future design and construction of improvements to Midway Road.

Garkovich, a rural sociologist and planning specialist speaking on behalf of the Woodford Coalition, also recommended standards in writing to the commission that she said would “preserve Midway Road’s designation as a scenic corridor and improve its safety.”

The extension of the Bluegrass Parkway to I-64 was proposed 40 years ago but dropped by the state because of the impact it would have on the Pisgah Pike Historic District and the eastern end of the Midway census tract and ZIP code.

"Why build new roads that aren't desperately needed when we desperately need when we to take care of the roads we already have?" asked former Gov. Brereton Jones, a horse breeder who lives a few miles west of Midway. "We need new roads, no question about it, but we don’t need to be destroying the prime agricultural land, the best land that exists."

Traugott said after the meeting that the commission “would absolutely consider the questions that were raised by the community residents.”

A few of the approximately 30 residents who spoke did commend the commission for shrinking the current 400-page document to about 100 pages, and endorsed it. Those included Brad McLean of Midway, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority.

McLean said the EDA gives the plan their “entire support” and thanked the Commission “for making economic development a priority.” Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman also endorsed the plan.
Traugott said in a post-meeting interview that there were “many, many things that everybody agrees on” in the plan. “There are three or four real issues.”

The biggest issue by far was the future of the equine preserve. “The destruction of the farmland would turn Woodford County into another faceless and indistinct bedroom community,” horse farmer Richard Masson said.

He called the plan “the first step to becoming just another off ramp on a freeway instead of a famous and historic landmark and the crown jewel of the Bluegrass.” Masson received the heaviest applause of the night.

The hearing was the latest episode in a long debate between preservationists and pro-development interests in Woodford County. For background on the debate, from the current plan, click here.

Council to to name EDA member, hear from chair

The agenda for the next meeting of the Midway City Council, at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, includes the proposed appointment of John Dodds to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority board and a report by Brad McLean, chairman of the EDA.

Thursday night, McLean spoke in favor of the proposed new land-use plan for the county, which is controversial because it would eliminate the equine preservation district that prohibits residential development among horse farms.

The council agenda also includes discussion of the citywide cleanup to be held Nov. 19, and continued discussion of the "full occupancy" goal first discussed at the council's town meeting on May 2. For the full agenda, click here. The agenda can be revised up to 24 hours before the meeting. All council meetings are open to the public.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Committee to meet Mon. about drainage inquiry

The Midway City Council committee that handles water, street and sidewalk matters will meet Monday, Nov. 7 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall to discuss a citizen inquiry on a drainage issue at 213 N. Winter St. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.