Farm Land Preservation Plan Approved

The Lexington-Fayette (Kentucky) Urban County Council approved a plan which is designed to preserve area farm land from urban sprawl. Typically called the “PDR” (purchase of development rights) plan, it has been discussed in various forms since the 1960s.

Lexington Mayor Pam Miller introduced Tuesday's plan as part of the city-county 2000-01 budget, and it calls for the city to provide $2 million annually from its resources. Eventually up to $25 million in bonds will fund the purchase rights program.

The second part of the plan is to ask for $15 million from a state bond pool of $25 million, from which preservation programs can request funding. The committee which would select preservation programs won't be intact until mid-July, with its first meeting in August. Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton, who will appoint members to the committee, has expressed his interest in the PDR plan and advised Lexington to request $15 million.

With combined local funds and state bonds, the program will start with $40 million. Over the next 25 years, the program is expected to require at least $100 million.

The plan allows land owners to sell development rights for their property to the city in minimum lots of 40 acres each.

“I feel confident we can launch the program on the local level with the $25 million. The governor is squarely on our side and I feel confident we will receive the $15 million from the state,” said Miller. “We are going to get it.”

Margaret Graves, director of the Bluegrass Conservancy, said the council's approval to ask for state funding is a big step in the right direction for preserving farm land.

“We are very excited about their approval,” Graves said. “This is a critical program for protecting the land that is best suited for raising Thoroughbreds.”

Lexington's budget also included $100,000 in funding to promote the city as the "Horse Capital of the World."