The Lexington council turned down a rezoning request for a three-story senior housing apartment complex on Todds Road after several council members said the proposed development was too big for the largely residential area.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council voted 8 to 4 Monday night to not approve a request to rezone approximately 8.3 acres from agricultural urban to high density apartments for a 125-unit, three-story senior housing complex at 3330 Todds Road.
The Clover Communities 125-unit, three-story senior housing complex was to be located behind the Baptist Church at Andover.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted 8 to 1 to give preliminary approval for the zone change during an April meeting.
The Urban County Council has final say on zone changes.
Traci Wade, the city’s planning manager, told the council Monday the planning staff had not recommended approval of the rezoning.
“The staff remained concerned about the massing of the structure,” Wade said of the “L” shaped three-story building. The site is surrounded on multiple sides by single-family neighborhoods. Staff also had concerns about access into and out of the property on busy Todds Road. A second entrance to the property is from Putter Lane.
Planning staff also had concerns about the lack of buffering between the proposed senior apartments and the surrounding neighborhoods, Wade said.
Nick Nicholson, a lawyer for Clover Communities, said if approved the Baptist church will continue to operate on the property. The proposed apartments are for seniors. The need for senior housing is mentioned repeatedly in the comprehensive plan, which guides development in Fayette County.
A 2017 housing study showed the county needed 2,200 additional senior housing units by 2025, Nicholson said.
“This problem is going to increase,” Nicholson said.
The comprehensive plan also supports using underutilized vacant land, he said.
“This is underutilized vacant property that we are able to use without displacing the current users,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson said the traffic impact would be minimal. A traffic study showed the 125-unit apartment would generate 25 trips in the morning to 33 new trips in the evening, he said.
Several neighbors spoke in opposition to the zone change. The concept — senior housing — was fine.
It was just too big, they said.
Ron Ayotte, president of the Andover Club Villas Association, said the proposed building is too tall —39 feet — and is more than a football-field and a half long on one side. Andover Club Villas is adjacent to the proposed development.
“It will dominate the landscape,” Ayotte said. “There is not sufficient space for buffering.”
Edwin Gibson, who spoke on behalf of several Andover neighborhood groups, said the “building would overshadow” many of the one and two-story homes in the Andover neighborhood. Gibson said they, too, opposed the height and mass of the proposed building.
Nicholson said the developer already reduced the size of the development by one floor. It was originally four stories. Clover Communities had also worked diligently with planning staff and the surrounding neighborhoods to try to make the proposed senior housing work, he said.
But sometimes what the neighborhood wanted and what planning staff wanted were at odds, Nicholson said.
Councilman Preston Worley, whose district includes the Todd Road area, said he supported senior housing and using underutilized land. The problem was the size of the apartment complex. “It’s a monstrosity” that would dwarf its neighbors, he said.
“I struggle with this because I think it’s a need in our community but I don’t think this particular zone change respects the character of the neighborhood,” Worley said.
“This is not a good fit,” said Councilwoman Kathy Plomin.
Others said the council has previously voted not to expand the urban service boundary, or growth boundary. That meant it had to look at under-utilized land for potential development —including the more than 8 acres behind the Baptist church for potential infill.
Councilwoman Jennifer Mossotti said she also had concerns about the lack of senior housing, particularly affordable senior housing.
“Not all seniors can afford to own town homes,” Mossotti said.
Those on the council who voted against the zone change include: Worley, Plomin, Susan Lamb, Richard Moloney, Josh McCurn, Chuck Ellinger II, James Brown, Jennifer Reynolds. Those who voted in support of the zone change: Mossotti, Vice Mayor Steve Kay, Angela Evans and Bill Farmer Jr.