Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Housing no longer planned for Midway Station; mayor says he doesn't want 'sprawling' housing developments

Midway Station is likely to remain an industrial and commercial development, with no residential zoning. That was the main news as Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift reviewed recent developments and looked ahead with the City Council Monday evening.

Vandegrift said developer Dennis Anderson, who has an option to buy much of Midway Station, "is very interested" in changing 61 acres that are zoned residential back to industrial. He said they agree on the need for that, especially with the truck traffic to and from the Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center that began shipments this month.

"It never really was a good idea out there," with industrial property so close to residential, Vandegrift said.

Midway Station was a failed industrial park in 2008 when the council and the Woodford County Economic Development Authority adopted Anderson's plan to turn it into a commercial and residential development. That plan was delayed by the Great Recession, then was changed by the advent of industry on and near the property and the state's expected disapproval of Anderson's initial tax-increment financing plan to redevelop the property.

Housing: If the 61-acre tract is once again zoned industrial, Vandegrift said, there will be no plans for housing in Midway. He said housing developments need to be affordable for the young and old, have a "small footprint" and "fit with Midway. . . . We do not need another sprawling neighborhood with a big footprint."

Specifically, the mayor said there should be no residential development south of Leestown Road, other than "infill" of small, undeveloped tracts. That could run contrary to the plans of David Thomas Phillips, who owns 31 acres between Leestown Road and the Northridge Estates subdivision. In 2010 Phillips filed a lawsuit seeking a judgment seeking to invalidate development restrictions that were supposedly placed on the property at the time Northridge was developed. The lawsuit has not proceeded largely because Phillips has not pressed it, apparently die to legal complications.

Immediately before his Leestown Road comment, Vandegrift said, "We should be thinking about some guidelines to keep our growth in check and keep it sustainable." Speaking more generally, he said the city needs to look for small industries, not just "whales." Lakeshore has promised to employ 262 people to earn incentives from the city, county and state.

Annexation: The mayor noted that EDA decided last week to exercise its option on 104 acres of the Homer Freeney farm on Georgetown Road, between Lakeshore and the new Brown-Forman Corp. warehouses. "It makes perfect sense for us to annex that. We can create more good jobs and more revenue, and we're not going to encroach on good farmland," he said. "The growth is not going to last much longer. . . . I think we've got to take advantage of it while it's here."

Council Member Sarah Hicks asked if the city should annex the warehouse property, which goes all the way to the Scott County line at South Elkhorn Creek. "I see no reason to," Vandegrift said. "It's a fire hazard," and the county gets the property-tax revenue on the aging whiskey.

The mayor said Anderson has closed on a lot that will be the site of a service station and convenience store on Georgetown Road, and has notified the city of his intent to close on five more acres fronting the road.

On other development topics, Vandegrift said the downtown area is "flourishing" and "is as near to full occupancy as it has been in a long time," the two major exceptions being a building that is blighted and another that the owner won't rent. He said a "longstanding" business that he declined to name wants to move to downtown Midway from downtown Lexington.

Other business: Hicks reported that a plan for trails in Woodford, Franklin and Owen counties will be rolled out at the Kentucky Association of Counties office in Frankfort on Nov. 29 at 11:30 a.m. She said she has worked for two years on the issue and the top priority for Woodford County is a trail from Frankfort to Midway, which she hopes could be extended to Weisenberger Mill.

In the only major business at the meeting, the council agreed to sell the city's 34-year-old fire truck to the town of Berry in Harrison County for $1. Vandegrift said, half-jokingly, "Berry is a much smaller city than us, and as the big guy, we've got to look out for the little fellows."

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