Fayette County

Old Frankfort Pike farms oppose potential relocation of recycling center

A potential relocation of Lexington's recycling center to a site near horse farms on Old Frankfort Pike faces growing opposition.

The owners of two farms — Three Chimneys Farm and Padua Stables — along Old Frankfort Pike are concerned about the impact the proposed recycling center would have on the corridor, one of the state's scenic byways.

Lexington's proposal is still preliminary, but Three Chimneys Farm is opposed "in principle to put any kind of disposal plant on Old Frankfort Pike," said Robert Clay, the owner of Three Chimneys. Clay has opposed further development on Old Frankfort since industrial sites began popping up outside New Circle Road.

Potential issues with the proposed recycling facility include sight lines, traffic patterns and debris that blows away from the center, Clay said Wednesday.

The city plans to meet with anyone who has concerns about the proposed recycling facility, said Cheryl Taylor, the city's environmental quality commissioner.

"It's a major corridor into the city, and it is very important that it's attractive," Taylor said. "Once you get past Alexandria (Drive), it's one of the most beautiful areas. It's breathtaking. I understand their protectiveness and them wanting to make sure anything out that way is suitable and appropriate."

The city is looking at moving its recycling center because it has outgrown its current 7.5-acre facility on Thompson Road.

The city's search has narrowed to a 30-acre parcel on Old Frankfort Pike that adjoins land the city already owns.

The move would allow the city to expand its recycling facility while resolving complaints from residents of the Oak Park-Melrose neighborhood about the current recycling center.

"It is very important to our environment to expand recycling," said Mayor Jim Newberry in a statement. "We can't do that unless we expand our capacity to sort and market the recyclables we collect, and we do not have room at the current site."

In December, the Urban County Council approved an $83,300, six-month option to purchase the property, giving the city time to study it in detail.

If the city chooses to buy the land, the money already spent will go toward the purchase price. If the city walks away, that money will be forfeited.

The property owner, Nuti Builders, is asking $1.65 million for the land, or $55,000 an acre.

Neighbors argue that putting a recycling center on the property, which is zoned for industrial uses, will damage the Old Frankfort Pike corridor.

They note that a roundabout planned for the corner of Old Frankfort and Alexandria Drive will serve as a gateway to the scenic portion of the road.

"The risk of locating any disposal plant in the proposed location would show a lack of commitment to the corridor, its new entrance, and the essence of what the Old Frankfort Pike means to our community," Clay wrote in a letter to the Herald-Leader.

Satish Sanan, the owner of Padua Stables at Old Frankfort and Alexandria, is also opposed to the proposed recycling facility. The day-to-day operations of Padua Stables is handled by Three Chimneys.

Sanan has personal experience with a recycling facility that opened less than five miles from his home in Clearwater, Fla.

"The people who live around the recycling facility say it's a mess," Sanan said. "People just don't want to live around there. The prices of the homes and all the facilities around it are down. People are generally negative about it."

The plans for the new recycling center are in the conceptual stages, Taylor said. Decisions haven't been made yet on building size or design.

What is clear is that the city wants a facility that exceeds environmental standards with minimal disruptions to the area, Taylor said.

The city is interested in a facility that's completely under a roof so that materials don't scatter or blow away during unloading and sorting, Taylor said.

In addition, the city plans to create an environmental education center on the property because of its location near the Town Branch and Wolf Run creeks.

Taylor said the city hopes to find common ground with neighbors in coming months.

"I'm very open to what people think about it," she said. "In general, there's a lot of folks who really don't want to see anything out there and I know that and understand that. I would like to see if there is a compromise we can do that would be perceived as a positive or at least neutral."