LANCASTER — The Garrard County Industrial Development Authority voted Wednesday to support the effort to bring a new stockyards to Lancaster.
The Loy family of Russell County has a one-year option to buy 9 acres off U.S. 27 just south of Lancaster for the new stockyards. The total purchase price would be $250,000, according to the option filed in the Garrard County clerk's office.
The development authority is not involved in the option between the Loys and the site's property owners, so Wednesday's vote was merely an expression of support. Garrard County Chamber of Commerce President Tom Hobbs also read a letter of support on behalf of that organization before more than 40 people packed into the city hall meeting room.
The authority's vote came after vigorous debate among farmers, who support a new stockyards, and nearby residents who oppose the potential problems with smell, noise and traffic.
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Vicki Sivis, a resident of nearby Deer Run subdivision, is concerned about all three. Her house has been for sale for a year, and she said a stockyards wouldn't help.
"We sit on our decks at night. We eat out on our decks at night," Sivis said. "Who wants to sit there on our deck and look at the stockyards?"
Bobby Noe, who lives next to the prospective site, doesn't oppose a new facility coming to Lancaster, but he is against the location.
"My property would be devalued," Noe said. He kept the books for the former Garrard County Stockyards that closed in 2007, and questioned whether a new stockyards in Lancaster could be viable when there is another in Stanford.
"There are simply not enough cattle in this area to support two stockyards sitting 8 miles apart," Noe said.
Even some development authority members questioned whether the site is suitable.
"One, I think it would be good for the community. Two, I don't really think that is the best site," board member Cliff-Ed Irvin said during the meeting. "Unfortunately, that's the only site" under consideration.
But proponents spoke, too. Farmer and Garrard County Fiscal Court Magistrate Ronnie Lane suggested that the Stanford stockyards could stand some competition.
"You go to Lincoln County, and it's gotten absolutely ridiculous what they're charging to sell a cow," he said.
State Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster, pledged his support for a stockyards "on the local level and the state level." He noted that three neighboring towns — Danville, Stanford and Lancaster — all had stockyards at one time.
"Today we've got one stockyards out of that three," Napier said. "We have a much better potential to make this stockyards go than ever before."
Garrard County Judge-Executive John Wilson said Lancaster retail businesses suffered when the old stockyards closed.
"When it left, it tore the heart out of this community," Wilson said. "Mark me down as in favor of the new stockyards coming here."
Noe's attorney, Bruce Simpson, contends that city planning and zoning regulations extend two miles from the city limits and include the proposed site, and that the proposal should go through the city's process for changes in land use.
But Lancaster Mayor Don Rinthen said that two-mile radius "has never been enforced and never been accepted" by county government.