Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Midway residents are more protective of farmland in countywide, self-selected survey by Woodford Forward

People in Midway are more likely than those in Versailles to support local candidates who oppose expanding urban-service boundaries and developing farmland, according to a survey by Woodford Forward, a nonprofit group that holds those views.

In the non-scientific survey, 53 percent of the self-selected respondents said they would favor such a candidate, but in Midway, the figure was 72 percent. In the rural areas of Woodford County, it was 60 percent. Only 25 percent of the total said they would favor a candidate who favors expanding the urban-service boundary.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they live on a tract of 10 or fewer acres; 47 percent of the total said they live in Versailles, 44 percent in rural Woodford County and 7 percent in Midway (95 people). Nine percent were in the Midway ZIP Code area. Two percent didn't categorize their residence.

Asked what they liked about living in Woodford County, 41 percent said "small town atmosphere and 27 percent said "beautiful countryside," the two leading responses. Midway residents were more likely to cite the countryside; those citing the small-town atmosphere were likely to be older.

Asked the downsides of living in the county, 35 percent cited "lack of available goods and services locally," 24 percent said "lack of restaurants" and 14 percent said "few entertainment options." Residents of Versailles were more likely to cite those downsides than rural or Midway residents.

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The longstanding tension between growth advocates and preservationists was apparent in responses to the question, "What do you think is the single most important issue facing Woodford County today?" The results: 34 percent said growth, and 33 percent said economic development, a term typically used by growth advocates.

Given a list of possible priorities for county planners, respondents gave the top rating

Woodford Forward said it mailed the survey to all 11,128 households in the county. The survey could be completed in hard copy or online. The group said it received 1,329 mail and 134 online responses, for a total of 1,463, or 13.1 percent of the households. (Another 51 were received after the survey ended and analysis began, for a total of 13.6 percent.)

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of various policy positions related to growth, on a scale of 1 to 10. The highest rating, 8.25, went to "Planning for innovative and responsible growth and development within the designated urban service areas of Woodford County." The next highest, 8.06, went to "Preserving the unique characteristics of Woodford County – defined small town
centers surrounded by scenic and productive farmland," followed by "Protecting prime farmland for agricultural use," at 7.98.

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Then respondents were asked how well the county is doing in those areas. Those are shown in the chart at left, as the green line on top of the importance ratings.

Given a list of possible policy priorities for county planners, respondents gave the highest rating to "Redevelopment of vacant land and property within the urban service areas," followed by "Basic infrastructure services such as sewers, roads and other public services" and "Protecting Woodford County’s key agricultural areas such as horse farms from development."

Asked if they agreed with this proposed mission statement, "The future of Woodford County will depend on balancing a moderate level of innovative and sustainable growth around its central town centers, while at the same time protecting productive and unique farmland in the county," 74 percent agreed. The most favorable response came from Midway, where 82 percent agreed.

Asked to "rate the current focus in Woodford County on encouraging cooperation to balance the need to grow our communities AND preserve our farmland," on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), 22 percent said poor and only 4 percent said excellent. The plurality, 31 percent, gave it a 3 rating.

For a PDF of the survey report, click here.

The survey was not truly scientific because it was not a random sample of the population. Self-selected surveys tend to get more participation from people who are more interested in the topic, are well educated or have more time to complete such surveys. Other factors may influence their response or lack of it.

Sixty percent of the survey respondents were women, and 29 percent have a graduate or professional degree. Another 28 percent have a bachelor's degree, and 27 percent have an associate degree or some college education. Only 15 percent said a high-school diploma was as far as they got in school.

If the survey had been a random sample, the margin of error for the Midway results would have been plus or minus 10 percentage points. A self-selected survey may have a greater error margin.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/07/28/3963974_survey-woodford-residents-like.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

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