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Stockyards proposed for Lancaster

LANCASTER — A Russell County livestock company has a one-year option to buy 9 acres for new stockyards south of Lancaster, according to a contract filed in the Garrard County clerk's office.

Darrell Loy of Jamestown, a partner in Russell County Stockyards in Russell Springs, confirmed Tuesday that he hopes to buy the acreage to put a new $4 million stockyard facility that would employ about 40 people.

But Loy emphasized that the negotiations are preliminary and that a lot of hurdles must be overcome before the stockyards become a reality.

"It's still too early in the game to know exactly what's taking place," Loy said in a telephone interview. For example, there are still various permits that would need to be approved by the state, he said.

"There are a lot of obstacles we have to go through before we're absolutely positive that we'll be able to build it," Loy said.

Meanwhile, the proposed stockyards will apparently be a topic on the Wednesday morning agenda of the Garrard County Industrial Development Authority. Garrard County Judge-Executive John Wilson said he anticipates that the board will cast a "symbolic vote" in support of the effort to bring a new stockyards to Lancaster.

The vote would be symbolic because the development authority is not selling the land for the prospective site. Loy said he does not plan to attend that meeting.

In early March, Loy, doing business as Loy Brothers Livestock Market Inc., signed an option to purchase 9 acres owned by Holton and Nancy Howard of Lancaster and Edward and Mildred Wilmot of Berea. The option-to-purchase contract was recorded March 19 in the Garrard County clerk's office. Wilson, the judge-executive, was the notary who signed the option, but he would not discuss on the record other details regarding the stockyards.

Loy paid $1,000 for the option. If the sale goes through, Loy Brothers would pay a $249,000 balance on the property, according to the terms of the contract.

The site is south of Lancaster, on the east side of U.S. 27, next to a dentist's office and in front of Turner's Wrecking Yard.

Rumors have circulated for several weeks that Lancaster was the prospective location for new stockyards.

One person who has already expressed opposition to any stockyards is Bobby Noe, who owns property next to the site under option. Noe has hired Bruce Simpson, the Lexington attorney who represented those opposed to Blue Grass Stockyards putting a new facility off Interstate 64 north of Midway. Blue Grass eventually dropped its plans for the Midway location.

"No governmental official in Garrard County or Lancaster has been willing to acknowledge" that the stockyards are a possibility there, Simpson said. "It's been very difficult to deal with a phantom stockyards that appears to be moving ever closer to locating on U.S. 27 next to Bobby Noe."

Simpson said he anticipates that representatives of Merriwood and Deer Run subdivisions, which are near the proposed site, will attend Wednesday's meeting of the industrial development authority.

The proposed site is in the county and outside the Lancaster city limits. But Simpson contends that Lancaster's city zoning ordinances apply 2 miles outside the city limits, and include the proposed site.

"We believe the applicant would have to go through the (city) planning and zoning process to get approval" for a land-use change, Simpson said.

Lancaster was home to the Garrard County Stockyards from the 1930s until July 2007. Lexington-based Blue Grass Stockyards bought Garrard County Stockyards from a group of investors and closed it, then shifted sales from Lancaster to a new $8 million facility in Stanford.

Loy said many cattle farmers in the Garrard County area have asked him to consider putting a stockyard in Lancaster.

"You wouldn't believe the people that have called, e-mailed and that have come to see me and said, 'We wish you guys were up here,'" Loy said. "If we can bring our resources to help the people in that community, we're more than happy to try to do it."

In 2007, according to estimates of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were an estimated 273,650 cows and calves in the nine-county area from which stockyards would likely draw. Those counties are Boyle, Estill, Garrard, Jackson, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer and Rockcastle.

In addition to Russell County Stockyards in Russell Springs, the Loy family also operates Farmers Livestock Market in Glasgow.