Decision on Lexington-Area Development Delayed

The decision to expand the Urban Service Area in Lexington, a topic that has sparked the interest of hundreds of concerned citizens at a series of community meetings the last two months, has been put on hold until early next year.

While several horse farm owners and others with agricultural interests oppose the expansion, others hope it will happen to develop more affordable and additional housing to support population growth.

During a Lexington-Fayette Planning Commission work session Oct. 23 in which two members were absent, it was decided the final decision on expanding development around Lexington would be pushed back to January, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The delay was spurred by the difficulty and expense of providing sewer service to one area under consideration for expansion.

The commission has two areas under consideration for an expansion if one should occur: a 2,000-acre area bounded by Interstate 64, Interstate 75, and Winchester and Royster Roads; and Athens-Boonesboro Road to I-75 and down Old Richmond Road to Tates Creek.

"It's a false argument that some of the proponents are making for an expansion that there are no good soils and no Thoroughbred operations that would be affected if they did expand in those two areas," said Knox Van Nagell, executive director of the Fayette Alliance. Van Nagell noted farms such as Overbrook, Woods Edge, Juddmonte, Crestfield, Patchen Wilkes, Justice, and Del Ridge are within the aforementioned boundaries.

"There are prime agricultural soils out there and countless general agricultural operations as well, which play a very key part in our local agricultural economy," Van Nagell said. "We live in this remarkable county where all the soils are so good--we have such prime agricultural land in our county--more so than any other of the Bluegrass counties."

According to its Web site, the mission of the Fayette Alliance is "to create, through education and awareness, a united voice for Fayette County citizens committed to promoting our irreplaceable farmland, protecting our unique agriculture enterprise from erosive suburban expansion, and securing a better, more prosperous future for our entire community."

Van Nagell said some farm owners were waiting to see if the expansion is approved before moving forward with conservation or Purchase of Development Rights easements, which would protect the natural resources and agricultural use of their properties.

"Obviously, if the expansion comes right up to their farms, it's going to be practically impossible for them to continue farming," she said. "This is the whole domino effect--an expansion really does undermine the hard work of the PDR program to try and get people in that area to commit, because you can't farm in a vacuum, and many people have a very difficult time conducting livestock operations next to residential development."

The next two work sessions to discuss the expansion of the Urban Service Area will take place Nov. 13 and 16.