A more than 12-acre development by Anderson Communities that was slated to include homes, townhouses and apartments off Chilesburg Road was denied a zone change Thursday by the Urban County Planning Commission. The site is adjacent to Jacobson Park in southeast Lexington.
The commission voted 6 to 5 to deny a change from expansion area residential to a higher density expansion residential zone after nearly three hours of discussion. Neighbors in the Chilesburg Road and Hays Boulevard area spoke against the development.
Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities told the planning commission that since the recession the housing market has moved from home ownership to renting. That’s why this development was needed.
“Home ownership rates are about 63 percent,” Anderson said. “People are deferring home ownership until later. We are seeing upwardly mobile young professionals choosing not to buy because it decreases their mobility.”
Richard Murphy, a lawyer who represents Anderson, pointed to two studies — one from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University —that showed apartments and rental properties do not lower property values.
“Our average income of the units that are already there is $86,000 a year,” Murphy said. There are 17 townhouses already on the property.
People would have had criminal background checks to get keys to the townhouses and apartments. People who lived in single-family homes would not have been required to have criminal background checks.
A traffic study paid for by Anderson showed the development would have a minimal impact on traffic on Hays Boulevard and Chilesburg Road.
Nathan Billings, a lawyer for the surrounding neighborhoods, said the proposed development had widespread opposition. People sent 218 letters opposing the zone change, 285 people signed a petition in opposition and more than 100 attended Thursday’s meeting. Billings said he has concerns that the number of units on the property would increase if the zone is changed.
“He’s already come back three times in this zone change,” Billings said.
Billings said he is concerned about the precedent of changing an expansion area zone to an expansion area residential or EAR-3 zone.
“That’s never been done before in Fayette County,” Billings said.
Sean Cunningham, who lives near the proposed development, said he had concerns about the increase in traffic, storm-water runoff and flooding.
“We will have considerable more flooding,” Cunningham said.
Planning commission staff had recommended the zone change not be approved.
Chilesburg Road has been designated as a rural, scenic highway and there are no plans to improve it, planning staff said Thursday.
“It was not envisioned to have high density on it,” said Traci Wade, a senior planner with the city. Wade said the proposed development would be among single-family neighborhoods, making it out of character with the area. Moreover, there are more than 1,100 existing or planned apartments or condominiums within a one-mile radius of the Chilesburg Road area. There were also concerns that there is only one way into the development from Chilesburg Road.
Anderson Communities was able to secure a second road through Jacobson Park, a city-owned park. The developer would build the road and remove it if the developers were able to secure land to build a second entrance, Wade said. She said the parks department only agreed to give the land for the road because the Lexington Fire Department wanted a second entrance. That road would only be used by the fire department and not by people coming in and out of the proposed development, Wade said.