Neighborhood to hire attorney in dispute over Vineyard church move

The Fairway Neighborhood Association has voted to retain an attorney to represent the neighborhood at the Lexington Board of Adjustment meeting July 30 when Vineyard Community Church will seek a conditional use permit to move into the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School.

The church wants to move from 817 Winchester Road, where it now meets, to the school building owned by Lexington businessman Bill Meade, who bought it in 2008 for $1.2 million after Fayette County Public Schools declared it surplus property. The church has a contract to buy the property for $1.5 million, contingent on getting a conditional use permit.

At a public forum Tuesday night, several homeowners expressed concern about future growth of the church, and the parking and traffic problems that would create.

Valerie Askren, president of Fairway Neighborhood Association, said Wednesday retaining legal counsel was a move "to look out for and protect the Fairway neighborhood residents."

The association will continue to talk with Vineyard and Bruce Simpson, attorney for Meade, "to come up with an amicable solution for everyone involved," Askren said.

Neighbors' main concerns are parking and traffic, she said. "We are an older neighborhood with very narrow streets. It would be very, very difficult for us to accommodate the kind of traffic that ... will be required for the new property owners."

Jimmy Fields, Vineyard's executive pastor, said he had not been in contact with the association since Tuesday night's meeting.

On Friday afternoon, the city's planning staff will release its recommendation for the conditional zone request, said Jim Marx, BOA senior planner. Copies of the staff recommendation may be picked up from the division of planning, on the seventh floor of the Phoenix Building, or the staff will e-mail copies on request.

The BOA meeting will be 1 p.m. July 30 in council chambers of the Government Center, 200 East Main Street.

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