Developer's defiance hurts great eco-tourism goal

Developer's defiance undermines greater goal

March 8, 2013 

Burgess Carey is the owner of Boone Creek Properties.

We won't try to untangle all the legal controversies raised by the construction of a canopy tour and zip lines above Boone Creek in southern Fayette County, in defiance of city officials who have said the project should be halted.

One thing is regrettably clear: By moving ahead without an official green light, the developer, Burgess Carey, has dealt a setback to those — including us — who want to open up more recreation and tourism opportunities in rural Fayette County.

Nothing in Lexington's zoning law anticipates the kind of commercial development Carey proposed, which is one reason Vice Mayor Linda Gorton appointed a committee of citizens and council members to draft an amendment that could accommodate more eco-tourism and agritourism while protecting farms and the rural landscape.

The committee, which has been working for more than a year, was close to making recommendations when Carey, who had been denied permission to build the project by the Board of Adjustment, started construction on a smaller footprint than he first proposed.

He says the smaller project is covered by an earlier permit that allowed him to open a private fishing club; others vehemently disagree.

While Carey's impatience may be understandable, years of work and public input produced the plan that protects the county's irreplaceable rural landscape and its capacity to support livestock and farming. The process of altering that plan also requires time and public input.

Carey's actions will confirm the misgivings of those who fear farming cannot coexist with other development and harden the opposition.

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