Fayette County

Lexington news-rack ordinance put on hold

An Urban County Council task force has put the brakes on a proposal to require standardized corrals for news racks in downtown Lexington.

Earlier this month, the services committee approved a draft ordinance requiring standardized corrals in an effort to organize news racks on downtown streets.

On Monday, the News Rack Ordinance Task Force voted unanimously to table the ordinance for 30 days to give publishers time to work with the Downtown Lexington Corporation to develop a plan for self-regulation.

The task force set its next meeting for Sept. 22.

Under the proposed ordinance, publishers with news racks would be required to obtain a $200 annual permit from the city.

Racks in the downtown area would be subject to more stringent requirements regarding location, color and size of racks, and all rack would have to be made of metal.

Local publishers opposed the tighter regulation, citing First Amendment rights and the added cost of buying metal racks and permits. They asked for an opportunity to self-govern, with ordinance changes as a last resort.

The Herald-Leader prefers for the publications to self-govern their racks. It also opposes the part of the ordinance that requires the color of the racks be consistent with the color of the corral.

The draft ordinance would have regulated all news racks placed in the public right-of-way.

In downtown, the racks would have to be placed in corrals that would have been allowed in 25 locations. The corrals would be furnished by the city.

There would be a $25-a-rack fee in the downtown area and a $25-a-rack installation fee.

Councilman Dick DeCamp has worked on a news-rack ordinance for several months. He said the news racks compromise safety because of their prominence on public rights-of-way.