The recent rezoning and annexation of Edgewood Farm for a hospital and other residential, commercial and industrial uses was arbitrary and should be declared void, two separate lawsuits filed Thursday claim.
The plaintiffs in one lawsuit include the Woodford Coalition, Winstar Farm, Lane’s End Farm owners William and Sarah Farish, and former Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler and his wife, Jennifer. Willliam Farish is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Woodford Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs will be the judge on that lawsuit.
Plaintiffs in the other lawsuit include the Pisgah Community Historical Association and 23 individuals. Woodford Circuit Judge Rob Johnson will be on that suit.
Among the claims in one suit is that Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott failed to disclose a conflict of interest in his support for the rezoning and annexation. However, Traugott did not vote on the Aug. 2 rezoning and annexation, and the mayor doesn’t vote on rezoning matters unless there is a tie vote on Versailles City Council.
Both lawsuits name Traugott, the city council, the Woodford County Planning Commission, Edgewood Farm LLC and its owners, and developer CRM Development Co. as defendants.
Traugott said Friday that he looks forward to defending the city’s rezoning and annexation of the Edgewood property, which he said was done “with the best interest of Versailles in mind.”
The lawsuit with Woodford Coalition as a plaintiff says the Edgewood rezoning failed to meet the requirements of state law and wasn’t based on substantial evidence. It also says the actions violated the goals and objectives of the 2011 land-use plan.
The lawsuit also says the plaintiffs were denied due process because Traugott didn’t disclose that “the developer of Edgewood Farm is a major contributor to the mayor’s employer. Based on this conflict and failure to reveal the conflict, the mayor acted arbitrarily in advocating for the annexation and zone change.”
Traugott is a senior policy adviser to Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo. Traugott said the Legislative Research Commission is technically his employer.
CRM Development Co. is the developer of the Edgewood property. Records with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance show that company executives Craig Turner and Timothy Wayne Wellman each gave $2,500 in July 2015 to the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee. The committee provides money to various Democratic candidates, and Stumbo would have interest in seeing that Democratic candidates are elected.
Finance registry records show no contributions from Turner or Wellman to Stumbo. Both men have given money in the past to Republican candidates as well as Democrats.
The suit with Pisgah Community Historical Association makes some allegations not included in the other suit.
For example, that suit says that people who objected to the zone change at the April 28 planning commission hearing were not afforded adequate time to speak on the record.
The applicants for the zone change were given 30 minutes compared to three minutes for each objector, the lawsuit says. Also, the applicants were given an additional 15 minutes for rebuttal while the objectors had no opportunity for rebuttal.
The annexation of the Edgewood property was the largest since the city voted in 2014 to annex 241 acres on the south side of U.S. 60. The Edgewood property is on the north side of U.S. 60, between the new Kroger store and Paynes Mill Road. Bluegrass Community Hospital intends to move from Amsden Avenue in Versailles to a corner of the annexed property.
Opponents had said the development was a bad idea, not just because of the loss of farmland but because it expands the urban service boundary of Versailles before the 2011 comprehensive plan, a guide for land use, has been updated with the help of citizen comments.
The local planning commission had cited a couple of cases in 2013 and earlier this year in which the commission had amended the comprehensive plan for the purpose of adding acreage to the urban service area.