Tuesday, June 22, 2021

State plans to take over road to Ironworks Pike, widen to county line; mayor says RV resort should redraw plan

The Midway City Council wraps up its meeting Monday evening. Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher was absent.
Google map shows KY 341 label on Midway Road in Scott County, but
that's not actually happened yet. For a larger, clearer image, click on it.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Prospects of widening Georgetown Road by the Midway Station industrial park have improved because the road is about to become a state highway all the way to Ironworks Pike, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift opined at Monday's Midway City Council meeting.

The council heard from citizens concerned about traffic and development along the road, including former mayor Becky Moore, and approved the city's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Vandegrift said he has asked the resort's developers to "go back to the drawing board," to no avail so far.

The first speaker at the meeting was Riley Sumner of Ironworks Estates in Scott County, who wanted to know what the council had done to get the state to widen the road, which is a state highway (KY 341) in Woodford County, where it serves mainly industry, but not in Scott County, where it serves homes and farms.

"Two weeks ago I dodged a bullet," Sumner said, explaining later that he nearly had a collision with a tractor-trailer in his lane on the road. "Somebody else is not going to be as fortunate." He said the road should have been widened when Midway Station was developed.

"It's one of the biggest needs we have in this community," Council Member Logan Nance said. "What that means is the politicians divvying out the money, they don't care."

Vandegrift said the state plans to widen Georgetown Road. He said the project will be made likelier because the state will take over the Scott County portion of the road as part of a road-swapping deal with the state. After the meeting, he relayed a message from Scott County Magistrate Chad Wallace, saying the swap would become final when the state finishes paving some roads in Scott.

The project in the state's planning process calls for widening the road from Interstate 64 to the county line. Natasha Lacy, regional spokeswoman for the Transportation Cabinet, said in an email Tuesday that the state's takeover of the Scott County portion does not make the project more likely. Vandegrift said the state plans to do a traffic study in the area, but Lacy said it has no such study planned, and Vandegrift "could have been referring to studies that were required of developers along KY 341."

A study is being done by developers of the proposed recreational-vehicle resort, the entrance to which would be across from McKinney Avenue, the busiest street in Midway Station. Vandegrift has said that the road should be widened before opening of the resort, which is seeking city water and sewer service through annexation. He has said no action will be taken on that request until the traffic study is done.

Former mayor Becky Moore addressed the City Council.
Moore, who was mayor from 1999 through 2006, said resort developer, Andrew Hopewell, "should go back to the drawing board" and apply for a zone change instead of trying to operate a "housing" facility, a large restaurant and other commercial enterprises in an agricultural zone under a conditional-use permit, which he has received from the county Board of Adjustment.

If the resort is built, Moore said, "That land use is permanent. It's no longer conditional use on agricultural land." Advocates of the resort have said putting it under conditional use allows the county to enforce the 16 restrictions placed on the permit and even add to them.

Moore commended the council and Vandegrift for not advancing the annexation request while the community has its say on the proposal, but she said the city, the county and Versailles should consider changing the zoning ordinance that allows such tourist destinations on farmland.

Vandegrift said he has urged the developers to "go back to the drawing board. Whether they're willing to listen to that, I don't know, but I hope that this process becomes a lesson to all developers looking to develop in Midway, whether it be residential, industrial, agricultural, commercial, that -- how do I say this? -- that they need to understand our community fully before they draw up their plans."

He added, "They need to stop squeezing every nickel out of everything, because that is not going to fly in Midway, It never has, and it never will."

Budget approved: The council adopted the 2021-22 budget without discussion, other than the mayor's listing of major spending items, including:
  • Raising volunteer firefighters' run pay to $50 from $35 and giving city employees 3 percent raises, with the potential for performance bonuses.
  • $200,000 for storm-sewer repairs, including $150,000 in the Gayland subdivision, which will also use a $200,000 low-interest loan from the state.
  • $139,000 for the final payment on the natural-gas line serving Midway Station, which Vandegrift said was key to the city's turnaround. He said he was told in "my first week on the job" that the city was risking insolvency unless it could rid itself of the debt for developing Midway Station.
  • $75,000 each for paving of streets and replacement of water lines.
  • $50,000 as an initial appropriation for rehabilitation of the water tower in Midway Station.
  • $30,000 for playground equipment at the small part at the south end of Gratz Street.
  • $22,500 for gates to connect the Midway and St. Rose Tabernacle cemeteries.
  • $20,000 for a sign at the KY 341 and Leestown Road intersection to bring visitors downtown.
  •  $7,000 for a housing needs assessment.
  •  $5,000 for a water bottle filling station on East Main Street. 
Other business: City Clerk Cindy Foster has proposed that the city have the Woodford County sheriff's office include the city's property-tax bills on the bills it sends to taxpayers each fall. The sheriff charges a 4.25 percent commission, but "I think we can save money in the long run," she told the council.

Council Member Sara Hicks was skeptical, suggesting that it would be a step toward merging Midway's government with the county's, but Vandegrift said, "I think merging services could be a smart thing." He said he would compare costs and report back at the next meeting, which will be July 6 because July 4 falls on a Sunday and the holiday will be observed on Monday, July 5.

The council approved an encroachment permit for RD Holdings, which is building a facility in Midway Station for storing and servicing golf carts, and three event permits:
  • Race to Rise, on Labor Day, to support the community meals served by Midway Christian Church. The parking lot on Higgins Street will be used for pre- and post-race activities, which council members said should reduce complaints about loud music. The four-mile race will start at 7:30 a.m. and go out Spring Station Road and back.
  • Bourbon Burn, on Sept. 25, held by Bluegrass Bicycle Tours, with a rest stop in Midway, either at Walter Bradley Park or Midway University. The three-day event will take about 1,500 bicyclists to distilleries via varying routes, with entertainment and tastings provided by distilleries in the evenings.
  • Bourbon Chase, on Oct. 16, a 200-mile relay with about 400 teams running from Clermont in Bullitt County to Lexington. They will enter Midway on West Stephens Street, go north on Turner, then east on Main and Dudley streets to the park. The next phase of the relay will run from the park, south on Brand Street and east on Stephens Street to exit town. Runners will start entering town around 7:45 a.m. and finish around 6:30 p.m.
In the roundtable that ends each council meeting, Council Member Mary Raglin said "I'm still basking over our Juneteenth celebration that was a big success" on Saturday.

When Council Member Steve Simoff said Mike Freeney had failed to deliver on his promise to give the city property on South Elkhorn Creek for public access, Vandegrift said he had reached out to Freeny on Friday and was told that his tax accountants had finally given him the green light. The mayor said he expects a ceremony to mark transfer of the property within a month.

Vandegrift noted that the city's annual Sparks in the Park event will be held July 3 in Walter Bradley Park, with free barbecue and some small vendors.

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