Politics, not zoning, killed stockyard move

Public input, hard work created rural plan

April 8, 2013 


Cattle grazing on the Blue Gate Farm, 3170 Military Pike in rural Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, November, 17, 2010. Officials with the Lexington's Purchase of Development Rights program gave the council an update on its progress Tuesday afternoon. Blue Gate Farm is in the PDR program.

CHARLES BERTRAM | STAFF — Charles Bertram | Staff

  • At issue: March 24 commentary by Van Meter Pettit, "A locked-up landscape risks losing public support."

A recent commentary about the Boone Creek area was in error when it asserted that the actions of our community were responsible for the Bluegrass Stockyards not locating in Lexington. Nothing could be further from the truth, and here are the facts.

We have already planned for the relocation of the stockyards in Lexington with the agricultural market overlay zone, known as AM-1, in Article 24 of the zoning ordinance.

This ordinance can be read on the city's website at Lexingtonky.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=19034.

The AM-1 ordinance was the result of many public meetings with input from a broad cross section of our community. The work group that drafted the ordinance was chaired by then-Councilwoman Gloria Martin, who represented the 12th District.

Through her leadership, the support of the agricultural community and the hard work of the planning staff, we drafted an ordinance that welcomed the relocation of the Bluegrass Stockyards in the Rural Service Area.

This project was not "defeated by an overly rigid public-approval process," as stated in the commentary. Despite this ordinance and all of the work, politics intervened with then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher citing the upcoming World Equestrian Games as a reason to find a different location. The result was the relocation plans in Lexington were scrapped at the last minute.

Our community has already come together to adopt a vision for the Rural Service Area. That vision is the Rural Service Area Land Management Plan, which was also drafted by a broad cross section of our community. Lexington is a national model for planning and the relationship between our urban and rural areas.

The citizens of Lexington have always seen the big picture. Our merged city-county looks the way it does because of the hard work and foresight of many individuals over the last half-century. We cannot divide Lexington over one zip line project and the refusal of that landowner to comply with the zoning ordinance and the Board of Adjustment. Citizens are required to abide by local ordinances, here and across the country.

The recent University of Kentucky study illustrates the value of traditional farm enterprises, their economic impacts and the "factory floor" of agriculture.

The big difference between the effort to relocate the Bluegrass Stockyards and the zip line project on Boone Creek is that the ordinance to allow the stockyards has been adopted by the Urban County Council. The stockyards can be located in the Rural Service Area because we have the legal framework to do so.

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton's Recreation and Tourism Work Group, another broad cross-section of our community, met more than 20 times and was working toward a text amendment that would encourage eco-tourism projects throughout Lexington. Unfortunately, the work group and the Urban County Council Planning Committee did not have a chance to review the recommendations before the owner of the zip line project moved forward without an ordinance.

At issue: March 24 commentary by Van Meter Pettit, "A locked-up landscape risks losing public support."

Don Robinson is a former chairman of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Planning Commission. Frank Penn is a member of the planning commission and has served as its chairman.

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