Lexington Planning Commission Takes Steps to Prevent Urban Sprawl

The Lexington Planning Commission Jan. 22 adopted the land-use element of a new comprehensive plan that excludes an "urban reserve" concept and the expansion of the Urban Service Area.

The commission officially approved the draft with a few minor changes after an hour of public comment from developers, farm owners, and members of neighborhood associations.

The comprehensive plan is reviewed every five years to decide whether Lexington should expand its Urban Services Area—the region of Fayette County that can be used for major residential or commercial development. Numerous members of the Thoroughbred community have attended work sessions over the last few months to express their desire for holding the line on suburban expansion.

The commission previously voted against a proposal to designate 7,700 acres in east and southeast Lexington as urban reserve—land the commission would look at first for future expansion.

"We now have the very important task of moving forward and really working with the neighborhoods and historic districts and really building up the city to the best it can be," said Knox Van Nagell, executive director of the Fayette Alliance, an organization formed to promote the protection of Lexington’s agricultural assets and farmland. "I think the community really spoke loud and clear that we really need to look at innovative ways to grow and accommodate growth while preserving our Bluegrass brand—that’s what makes us an international state."

At the Jan. 22 meeting, a majority of attendees burst into applause when the commission approved the plan, with only one member in opposition.

Julie Goodman, general counsel for the United States Equestrian Federation, told the commission Lexington’s unique land resources had played a major part in the decision to bring the FEI World Equestrian Games to the city. "If we’re not careful, events like this may no longer come our way," she said.

In the coming weeks, the commission will discuss how it will implement the infill and redevelopment concepts the plan has outlined to take place over the next five years.