A Fayette County planning group voted Thursday to approve zone changes for a mixed-use community on Leestown Road that could include as many as 569 apartments and townhomes in the next several years.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted 7-2 after hearing more than two hours of public comment from developer Anderson Communities and Masterson Station, McConnell Trace and other neighboring residents who opposed the zone changes. Anderson Communities had applied to change the zoning from agricultural urban and single-family residential to a highway service business and planned neighborhood residential zones.
The zone changes now move to the Urban County Council for final approval. It will be several weeks before the council takes a final vote.
More than 530 people signed a petition at Change.org opposing the zone changes before Thursday’s meeting.
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Anderson Communities wants to build 474 apartments, 95 townhomes and two commercial buildings at 2731 and 2751 Leestown Road. The site is now a nursery. If approved by the council, the new business zone would be toward the front of the property on Leestown Road. Lucille Drive would be extended through the property and connect to Leestown Road. There would be a traffic circle in the center to slow traffic through the proposed development, tentatively called The Villages at Great Acres.
Richard Murphy, a lawyer who represents Anderson Communities, said the development would tie into three trail systems.
“There will be 11 acres that will not be developed and will remain green space,” Murphy told the commission. The proposed businesses could include a drug store, gas stations, a bank and coffee houses. The three-story apartment buildings would be in the center of the development, with two-story apartments and townhouses on the perimeter.
“We are not developing Masterson Station Park,” Murphy said. Roughly 40 percent of people who have signed petitions against the proposal have done so because they thought the development was on the city-owned park, he said. It is not. “Roughly 38.6 percent of the petition signatures were not from Fayette County,” Murphy said of the online petition at Change.org.
The apartments and townhomes would tax traffic in the Leestown Road corridor and could add to storm water problems on the property, those who oppose the development told the commission.
Michael Barnett, who lives in Masterson Station, said “traffic was the number one concern” of people who signed the petition.
The proposed development would dump storm water into an already-taxed retention pond that already overflows, opponents said.
“We worry about where this water will go,” Barnett said. There are hundreds of species of birds that make the pond their home.
Norene Ward, who has lived on Leesway Drive for 40 years, said the developer’s own traffic study showed the project would add 1,200 cars to Leestown Road. “We are already at capacity,” she said.
The planning commission staff recommended the zone changes be approved in part because the 2013 comprehensive plan encourages the expansion of housing choices and higher-density development near greenways and public parks. The staff recommended restricting the types of businesses on the property. Hotels and motels, drive-in restaurants, tattoo parlors and cocktail lounges would be prohibited.