Veterinary supply company plans to employ 50 at Coldstream Research Park

A company that specializes in dental, medical and veterinary supplies plans to build a veterinary supply distribution center on land currently leased by the Urban County Government. The company plans to employ 50 people, a company representative said Thursday.

The Urban County Planning Commission voted 7-0 Thursday to approve development plans for the more than 75,000-square-foot distribution center on Citation Boulevard in the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Park.

Katie Beard, a civil engineer for Denham-Blythe, the developer of the project, told the commission Henry Schein Inc., a Fortune 500 company, plans to begin construction in mid-January. The company is one of the world's largest providers of health care products and services to medical, dental and veterinary offices. Officials with Henry Schein were not available for comment late Thursday.

Before the project goes forward, the Urban County Council must approve a sublease for the property that the city has been trying to unload for years.

The city signed the 100-year lease in 2007 with the purpose of building an emergency operations center. Costs for the project, however, quickly climbed to $42 million. Mayor Jim Gray, who was then vice mayor, led the charge to stop the project. But the city could not break the 100-year lease for $800,000.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city, said the new lease will come before the Urban County Council at its Jan. 14 meeting.

"They are anxious to begin as most developers are and they wanted to start in January," Beard said.

The council approved a zoning change for the property on Tuesday.

Some members of the Urban County Council on Tuesday and the Planning Commission on Thursday expressed reservations about the expedited timeline for the necessary government approvals.

Chris Jones, who lives near the proposed warehouse, told the planning commission on Thursday that he, too, was uncomfortable with the speed in which the zoning change and the development plan were approved.

"We are moving so quickly in this process," Jones said. "I think they are concerned that there may be push-back. There is certainly push-back in our neighborhood and from me."

Jones said he was also concerned that there may not be enough buffer for noise and light between the distribution center and Belmont Farms, a neighborhood adjacent to the property. Jones said he was also concerned about additional traffic on Citation Boulevard.

Chris King, director of the city's planning department, told the commission that the situation was not ideal.

"This is a very unique situation," King said. "This is one of those very fast-moving economic development initiatives."

Lexington was in competition with other cities for the distribution center.

"The timing was critical," King said. King said that if Jones and others have concerns, those concerns could be addressed in the lease between the company and the city.

"The discussions will not stop here," King said. Any concerns will be communicated to the Urban County Council before the lease is approved, he said.