Monday, October 26, 2020

EDA board member raises idea of multi-family housing in Midway Station commercial zone; mayor says no

Portion of zoning map is labeled to show B-5 commercial zone and other zones at Midway Station.

Trying to figure out how to sell the commercially zoned lots in Midway station, some of Woodford County's economic developers are talking about rezoning part of the property for multi-family housing. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says he opposes that.

The idea was mentioned at Friday's meeting of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority board, in the first report from a committee appointed to "steer future decisions" on the commercial lots. Chair Paul Schreffler said one option could be rezoning some for industrial or multi-family.

Schreffler said the other options for the commercially zoned tracts include redesigning some lots or "doubling down on the new urbanism" concept in the development's original plan. The concept uses walkable streets, accessible public spaces and housing and shopping in close proximity.

There was no reaction from the board or any comment from Vandegrift when he had an opportunity, but had one when the Messenger asked him later Friday about multi-family housing. "That's not in line with our thinking or policies," he said. "I thought we had settled that when we rezoned everything."

Power lines in Midway Station can complicate
sale of lots in the heart of the commercial zone.
Asked to explain "our thinking or polices," Vandegrift said "Any additional housing in the city needs to be adjacent to other housing." He said "the populace demands" that to avoid "sprawl" and "the feeling of two Midways," which was the prospect when various types of housing were part of the plan for Midway Station from 2008 to 2018.

Vandegrift said the property now zoned commercial "doesn't seem like a good place for homes," and the large power lines running through the property also pose an obstacle. He said "developers want to develop," but "We have to control that impulse."

Vandegrift said Monday that he spoke with EDA Chair Michael Michalisin of Midway about the idea, "He said he was just as surprised as I was; and that idea is not on the table."

At the board meeting, Vandegrift noted that the recent closing of the sale of lots to RD Holdings, for a plant to store and maintain golf carts, will add 30 to 40 jobs, bringing the total in Midway Station to more than 600.

Discussion of marketing the commercial property, zoned B-5 for highway business, dovetailed with talk about the EDA's website.

"We need to get this B-5 ready to go, and no one's going to look at it with our current website," board member Maria Bohanan said.

Schreffler agreed: "The website is awful, and we've got to be competitive." He noted that it requires not just new construction, but constant maintenance.

EDA Executive Director Lucas Witt said he would talk with Mandy Lambert, who has made a proposal for reworking the site, but also offer other options for the next meeting. Bohanan said action on the site needs to wait until Midway and Versailles officials have been consulted about how it will brand the two cities and the county.

Witt reported that Bluegrass Distillers remains in line for a community-development loan from the state for its facility to be built on the northwest quadrant of the Interstate 64 interchange, and said he is coming closer to an agreement with the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce on cooperative activities, such as a quarterly meeting of local industries.

The EDA meeting was held via Zoom and was broadcast on Facebook Live.

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