On Dec. 15, a large group of concerned citizens will attend the Planning Commission’s public hearing to protest Ball Homes’ rezoning proposal of the undeveloped peninsular area of land surrounded on three sides by Lexington’s Reservoir No. 4 (also known as Lake Ellerslie). The proposal would increase the low-density residential classification of four units per acre outlined in the Urban County Government’s Comprehensive Plan.
It would result in 308 multi-family apartments (up to four-story buildings with up to three bedrooms), 31 townhomes, 156 single-family homes, and a middle school on this 70-plus acre site.
Traffic impact from these additional residences will be considerable and unsafe.
This entire proposed development, including the school, has only two entrances/exits planned on the two-lane, curvy, hilly Squires Road, a road already heavily impacted by neighborhood traffic and shortcut traffic between Richmond Road and Alumni Drive.
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With the bedroom count in the planned apartments being so high, the neighborhood expects three or more college students sharing one apartment, each with a personal car. In addition, the number of school buses will cause congestion on an already-congested morning and evening Squires Road drive time.
Ball Homes has not taken into consideration the makeup of the established neighborhoods surrounding the peninsula. These quiet areas consist of single-family residences and duplexes that neighbors appreciate. The addition of 308 apartments in buildings up to four stories high does not fit the character of the area.
Current residents question the prudence of over-building more apartments in a city that currently has more apartments than necessary. The residents also have stated their concerns about more police calls being made from the apartments, as well as the potential fire hazards of dense housing
A further concern expressed by anxious residents familiar with the Comprehensive Plan is Ball Homes’ design plans’ exclusion of the continuation of Squires Road Trail, a safe and convenient 1.33-mile paved walking/bike trail from Summerhill Drive to Squires Road.
Also excluded in design plans was the anticipated bike trail along the reservoir’s border, an published city-government ambition since 2001.
Runoff into the reservoir from dense housing is another great concern. Lexington’s drinking water would be affected by this runoff. Lower density housing would mean more green space to filter the water before flowing into Reservoir No. 4.
Ball Homes’ lawyers’ answer to the citizens’ concerns in a recent meeting was, “This model has worked well for Ball Homes in the past.”
This model might work in other areas, but not so in the peninsula area.
The exceptional, environmentally sensitive natural area replete with birds, fish and wildlife, held in trust by the water company for over 100 years, needs to be handled with more delicacy, consideration and planning in regards to nature-loving citizens, existing neighborhoods, traffic patterns, density, walking/bike paths, water safety and need for neighborhood green space.
Marilyn A. Seiler, a member of the East Lake Neighborhood Association, lives near the reservoir.
At issue: Herald-Leader articles, “Apartments, townhomes, houses, school: Too much for lakeside site?” and “Squires Road rezoning request delayed for traffic, tree studies”