H-1 designation for Ashland Park an unneeded layer of restrictions

November 12, 2012 

Houses in the 200 block of South Hanover Avenue are in the Ashland Park neighborhood, which is proposing to become a historic district. The Planning Commission approved the request Oct. 25. The Urban County Council also must approve it.

CHARLES BERTRAM | STAFF — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • At issue: Oct. 21 Tom Eblen column, "Ashland Park made for historic designation; neighborhood boasts qualifications aplenty"; Oct. 26 Herald-Leader article, "Ashland Park approved as historic district; city council has final decision" and Oct. 31 Herald-Leader editorial, "OK Ashland's historic district; commissioner confused about job"

H-1 overlay should not be approved by the Urban County Council for a few streets in Ashland Park.

Zoning was created to protect neighborhoods from infringements from non-compatible real estate development. This overlay is another layer on existing zoning, and the zoning for Ashland is residential. McDonald's cannot be built on Hanover Avenue.

Throughout the neighborhood are existing multifamily dwellings. The H-1 overlay designation began in the 1960s to protect historic neighborhoods of West Short and South Mill. The structures in these areas were typically more than 100 years old and had some historic significance.

Since then, 12 other H-1 overlay neighborhoods have been created, some for purposes other than historic preservation. For example, Arcadia and Danzler added an H-1 overlay to prevent the expansion of student housing.

The zoning ordinance, Article 13, has nine guidelines to obtain said designation. In reading these guidelines, they could apply to almost any neighborhood in the urban area.

During the Planning Commission open forum, it was mentioned that the Olmsted brothers created Ashland Park. Yes, they did, but they were landscape architects and only designed the area, not the structures.

It has been argued that land values tended to remain steady or increase in historic areas, which recently has not been true.

This paper claims about 75 percent of property owners who voted in this district approved the overlay; however, many will dispute this number. Others have stated they were unaware of the H-1 restrictions, and there was not full disclosure of the application of this new zone.

I applaud Planning Commissioner Mike Craven for expressing his views in trying to convince the commission that the H-1 is not required.

One of the rights granted to us is the private ownership of property, and many rights are removed if this zoning is obtained. H-1 requires approval for exterior work, including for shutters, gutters, roofs, exterior lighting, windows, tree removal and landscape plans.

Getting approval for exterior work can take time and be very expensive; people on fixed incomes might not be able to afford to complete exterior work per the H-1 guidelines. You might not be allowed to maintain your property the way you want, and you might have to compromise.

Do the property owners on a couple of streets in Ashland Park really want the H-1 overlay? Will existing homeowners be able to pay the cost of these requirements?

Ben Kaufmann, a financial planner, owns 41 properties in Lexington historic districts.

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