VERSAILLES — Residents didn't mince words Thursday night in their opposition to portions of a draft land-use plan for Woodford County.
Of particular concern to most of the more than 30 people who spoke at a public hearing was the elimination of protections for the "agricultural-equine preserve district" in northern Woodford. The designation prohibits rural residential subdivisions, but those developments would be allowed under the draft comprehensive plan. The preserve contains many of Woodford's iconic horse farms.
Maryann McCauley drew applause from the crowd of more than 100 when she spoke against the change that she said would endanger some of the best soils and farmland in the world.
"We've got the goose that is laying the golden egg," McCauley said. "Don't kill that goose or we will be left with a dirty nest."
Richard Masson, co-owner of Golden Age Farm, also drew applause for his defense of the equine preserve.
"Why would the county allow the destruction of its primary asset to simply turn itself into yet another faceless and indistinct bedroom community — the first step to becoming just another off ramp on a freeway instead of a famous and historic landmark and the crown jewel of the Bluegrass?" Masson said.
Former Gov. Brereton Jones, who raises horses near Midway, questioned the need of some new roads mentioned in the plan. The plan says the extension of Blue Grass Parkway from U.S. 60 to Interstate 64 should be considered and mentions extending Falling Springs Boulevard around the west side Versailles to the U.S. 60-Midway Road intersection north of town. Planning Director Pattie Wilson said neither road is recommended by the plan now but could be considered in the future.
Nevertheless, Jones asked "Why build roads that aren't desperately needed?"
John-Mark Hack, former executive director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, said the plan "fails to promote the greatest good for the greatest number."
"Our community's strengths are found in what makes us unique, not in becoming another destination in the United States of Generica," Hack said.
Not everyone found fault with the proposed plan. Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman said it is a "more business-friendly plan."
Versailles Realtor Harold Steele voiced full-fledged support for the plan to the planning commissioners.
"I think the comprehensive plan you've put together is the best I've seen since I've lived here, and I've been here 40 years," Steele said. "I think what you all have done is leveled the playing field instead of just standing up for special interests."
Brian Traugott, chairman of the subcommittee that drafted the plan, said he would like that group to go through the written comments that were submitted Thursday night before the full planning commission votes to adopt the comprehensive plan.
The full Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission could vote to adopt the plan as early as Nov. 10.