Fayette County

Moratorium on additions scuttled

The Urban County Council on Thursday decided not to consider an ordinance putting a moratorium on additions that would increase the size of a house more than 25 percent.

The ordinance was on the docket for first reading. It was removed on a motion by Councilwoman K.C. Crosbie, seconded by George Myers.

Council members — including the ordinance's sponsor, Diane Lawless — unanimously approved the motion.

"I don't think it is well written," Lawless said, citing one of the shortcomings as "a very vague definition of structures."

The moratorium was proposed to stop construction of big box additions that double and triple the size of small homes in the Elizabeth Street area.

These additions, with as many as eight bedrooms, turn single family houses into small apartment buildings — satellite fraternity houses for University of Kentucky students, according to frustrated neighbors who want the additions stopped.

The increased number of students results in too many cars, late-night parties and lawns strewn with beer bottles, and the neighborhood is being destroyed, several home owners told the council.

The wording of the moratorium made it sound like any additions in all of Fayette County that were in excess of 25 percent of the structure's original square footage would be put on hold.

"If we don't have a good document to bring forward, we won't get anything passed," Lawless said.

Several builders and remodeling contractors in the audience told Lawless later that they wanted to work with her on solving the problem.

"I'll fight with you anyway I can," said remodeler Bill McNees. "We value quality additions."

Chip Crawford of Crawford Buildings said a meeting has been set up on Tuesday with Lawless and several builders "to work collaboratively on how to better address this issue."

In other action, the council gave first reading to an ordinance to roll back the garbage collection tax by 10 percent. The reduction was proposed by Mayor Jim Newberry, in part because the urban services fund that receives the tax money has accumulated more than $24 million.

Commissioner of environmental quality Cheryl Taylor said the city could afford to refund the money because projected efficiencies in waste management will save the city money in the future.

Planned $3.8 million in improvements to the city's recycling center on Thompson Road will end up increasing recycling revenue, Taylor said. New equipment will make it easier to separate paper and aluminum from the recycling stream, so they can be sold.

The equipment will also let workers process 23 tons of recyclables an hour, up from 8 tons currently, Taylor said.