VERSAILLES — Woodford County residents like the small-town atmosphere of where they live, but they say the lack of available goods and services is a major downside, according to the results of a countywide survey released Tuesday.
Asked "What do you like most about living in Woodford County?" 41 percent of the respondents said "small-town atmosphere," 27 percent said "beautiful countryside," and 21 percent said "location."
But when asked "What, if any, are the downsides of living in Woodford County?" 35 percent cited "the lack of available goods and services locally"; 24 percent cited "lack of restaurants"; and 14 percent cited "few entertainment options."
"The selection of stores and restaurants is embarrassing compared to other (smaller and less prestigious) communities in our area," one unidentified respondent was quoted as saying in the survey. "We have few chain stores and restaurants, and those that we do have are usually so poorly kept up and staffed that they remove themselves as a viable option. It would be nice to go out to dinner and have more than two choices without having to drive to Lexington or Frankfort."
The survey was released by Woodford Forward, a privately financed organization that advocates for farmland conservation and for building within the urban service boundaries of Versailles and Midway.
The survey results were presented Tuesday night to Woodford Fiscal Court. Midway City Council will hear a presentation on Monday; Versailles City Council, on Tuesday.
The survey was conducted and finished before a new Kroger, the largest in Kentucky, opened on July 17 in Versailles.
In another survey result, 53 percent of respondents said they would be "more likely" to vote for a candidate who is opposed to expanding the urban service boundary and would stand against converting more farmland for development; 25 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favors expanding the growth boundary; and 22 percent didn't know or weren't sure.
The urban service boundaries established by Woodford County's comprehensive plan designate where city services such as water and sewer lines are to go in the future. The aim of an urban service boundary is to encourage planners and developers to use available space as opposed to continually expanding into farmland.
Or as Magistrate C.L. Watts put it: "To use what we already have."
Those more likely to vote for a candidate opposed to expanding the growth boundary are Midway and rural residents, and those who have lived in Woodford County for 10 or fewer years, according to a survey summary.
Those more likely to vote for a candidate who favors expanding the growth boundary are Versailles residents and those living in Woodford County for more than 40 years.
The survey was conducted by The Matrix Group, a Lexington market research firm. A total of 1,463 households in Versailles, Midway and Woodford County completed the survey mailed to residents. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Fiscal court magistrate Duncan Gardiner said after the meeting that he agrees with the survey's findings.
"I think we have plenty of room within the urban service boundary to do infill," Gardiner said. "I don't disagree with that at all."
Magistrate Gerald Dotson said he wasn't surprised by the findings. "People are willing to accept almost anything here if it's in the urban service boundary," he said.
The entire survey is available to read at woodfordforward.org.