The Lexington Urban County council voted to approve zone changes Tuesday for a mixed-use community on Leestown Road that will include as many as 570 apartments and townhomes in the next several years.
The council voted unanimously to uphold an earlier vote by the Urban County Planning Commission to change the zoning from agricultural urban and single-family residential to highway service business and planned neighborhood residential.
The council voted after a 90-minute public hearing.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted in March to approve the changes. It takes eight votes or a majority of the council to overturn the planning commission’s recommendation.
Anderson Communities wants to build 474 apartments, 96 townhomes and two commercial buildings at 2731 and 2751 Leestown Road. The site is now a nursery. The new business zone would be toward the front of the property on Leestown Road. Plans call for Lucille Drive to be extended through the property and connect to Leestown Road. The proposed development is called The Villages at Great Acres.
Richard Murphy, a lawyer for Anderson Communities and The Villages at Great Acres, said the development will have trails that will allow residents to get to Masterson Station park and to the Town Branch Trail. “This will be a little smaller commercial area than Townley Center,” Murphy said.
Townley Center, an Anderson Communities development at the corner of New Circle and Leestown roads, includes restaurants and retails shops as well as apartments and townhomes. “We know it works,” Murphy said. “There is a growing segment of the population that wants maintenance-free (living), that wants to be close to amenities and that doesn’t want a mortgage.”
Leestown Road was recently widened. There will be a traffic signal at the entrance of the property, Murphy said.
Those who oppose the zone changes told the council Tuesday that they were concerned about the destruction of natural habitat and the cutting of trees, particularly at the back of the property. Drainage and flooding is also a concern.
“I see nothing in the plan that has addressed the drainage,” said Jeff Swain, whose home is near the property. “The current flood plain does not retain the water.” Swain said Anderson Communities is inheriting a problem that has been around for decades.
Swain was one of two people who spoke against the proposal at the Tuesday public hearing. Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities said the existing trees will remain on the property unless the trees are dead. Additional trees will be planted. Anderson said the development will be built in phases.
Murphy said the final development has to be approved by the city, and and all drainage issues have to be addressed. “We will be adhering to all stormwater requirements,” Murphy said.