Growth and development issues took center stage in a forum Wednesday night that featured candidates in all of the contested Urban County Council district races.
Candidates were asked, among other things, about the Purchase of Development Rights farmland preservation program, infill and redevelopment, and a strategy for a successful local economy.
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More than 50 people attended the forum, which was sponsored by The Fayette Alliance, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Fayette County Farm Bureau and the Fayette County Neighborhood Council.
Expanding the urban service boundary
The candidates were asked how Lexington should manage growth since an additional 60,000 people are expected to move to the metro area over the next 30 years.
■ District 2 incumbent Tom Blues: Doesn't support expanding the boundary. "The lack of affordable housing is what pushes people out into suburbia developments," he said.
■ District 3 candidate Diane Lawless: "We need to make sure our infill and redevelopment is done responsibly with adequate infrastructure."
■ District 3 candidate Eric Thomason: The city needs to increase density in the urban core to "grow upward, not outward," he said.
■ District 5 candidate Cheryl Feigel: Growth will occur, but the council can't expand the boundary without "a lot of very thoughtful discussion with the individuals involved."
■ District 5 candidate Ed Norton: The boundary shouldn't be expanded until the city's infrastructure is fixed.
■ District 11 incumbent Peggy Henson: Not in favor of expanding the boundary. The city should take the blighted areas and turn them into beautiful things, she said.
■ District 11 challenger Logan Weiler III: The urban service boundary is a street-by-street issue with some people who are happy to live outside it and those who want to be inside the boundary, and he will go to bat for whatever residents want.
All the candidates said they supported PDR, the city's farmland preservation program, but they differed on whether the goal of preserving 50,000 acres of Fayette County farmland should be increased.
■ Thomason and Norton said they would support expanding the number of acres protected by PDR.
■ Lawless said she would support expansion if it was "deemed appropriate by the stakeholders."
■ Blues and Feigel said they would consider expanding PDR.
■ Henson said that 50,000 acres of preserved land is "probably sufficient, but in the future, we could probably change it."
■ Weiler said he would support "expanding it in a responsible way."
Public input in planning
District 7 candidate Chris Logan arrived 45 minutes late at the forum, so he didn't answer the PDR or managing growth questions.
Answering a question about infill and public participation in planning, Logan said, "A city belongs to all of us, it doesn't just belong to a few developers or a few individuals who have major influence.
"It belongs to all of us, and I hope that as a city we can develop a plan that allows us more input as citizens, as a community, of what we hope to see as a city in the future."
K.C. Crosbie, the District 7 incumbent, did not attend because a campaign fund-raiser was scheduled for the same time.
Randy Tobia, a write-in candidate in District 2, and Troy Lacefield, a write-in candidate in District 3, also participated in the forum.