Woodford County

Lawsuit filed to restore limit on castle's use

VERSAILLES — For years, it sat as an unfinished eyesore. Now some neighbors are afraid that the CastlePost might become too much of a good thing.

They hope to reverse a November decision that allows an unlimited number of events at the Woodford County landmark on U.S. 60 west of Lexington. They take issue with lifting some restrictions that had been imposed on the castle by the local board of adjustments.

When it opened last year, CastlePost was limited to hosting one charitable event a month and one party or reception a month. (The restrictions were enacted in 2005, three years before CastlePost opened.)

Then, on Nov. 2, the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Board of Adjustments lifted the restriction on the number of events by a 5-0 vote.

Several charity fund-raisers have been held at CastlePost, including one last weekend that raised more than $60,000 for the Salvation Army, said Bill Moore, attorney for castle owner Tom Post. Post and Moore are named as defendants in the suit, as well as the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Board of Adjustments.

"Some of the other charities that have been out there for money-raising purposes have raised in the tens of thousands of dollars," Moore said.

In its first year, fund-raisers at the castle brought in more than $500,000, Moore told an October meeting of the board of adjustments. The Scott County Humane Society's "Furball" event there netted nearly $40,000, he said.

But inviting more events, people and traffic into a rural historic district is more than some residents want to see.

"They don't have anything against charitable events, so long as the charitable events are in compliance with the land-use law," said Lexington attorney Bruce Simpson.

Simpson filed the complaint on behalf of the Pisgah Community Historic Association, a neighborhood group; the Woodford Coalition, another group that monitors growth and planning decisions in the county; Dan Rosenberg, former general manager of Three Chimneys Farm; and Pisgah Pike residents Glenn Bromagen and Sandi Bromagen.

The suit is the latest chapter in the building's long saga. Lexington contractor Rex Martin Sr. started building the castle in 1969, but it sat unfinished and empty for more than 30 years.

Then Post, a Miami lawyer and a graduate of Lexington's Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky, bought it for $1.8 million in 2003. While it was being restored, a May 2004 fire burned the house.

Since its opening in 2008, the castle has been advertised as "Kentucky's Premier Tourist Inn," with amenities that include a swimming pool, tennis court and grand ballroom. It has 16 rooms for overnight guests; they range in price from $325 a day for the State Room to $1,250 a day for the four "Royal Turret Suites."

Under the board of adjustments' rules, no outdoor amplification of music is allowed at CastlePost, and musical entertainment must be "confined to the building's interior after 6 p.m."

Some say the castle's exclusivity is its draw. Holding more events there might lessen its appeal, Rosenberg told the board of adjustments in October.

Neighbors are quick to praise Post's efforts to restore the castle and open it for charity fund-raisers, but they say operating it as an exclusive inn is the wrong use for the site.

The suit filed last week asks a Woodford Circuit Court judge to declare "null, void and of no effect" the Nov. 2 action taken by the board of adjustments. The suit alleges that the board exceeded its authority and "acted arbitrarily" when it approved the change in the original conditions.

The suit also claims that the board "failed to properly consider the impact of expanding and intensifying this use" on the surrounding agriculturally zoned properties around CastlePost.

In an answer filed Friday, the board of adjustments denied the plaintiffs' claims and asked for the suit to be dismissed. Post had not filed an answer as of Friday.

But Moore said if problems arise, local residents can seek to have stricter rules apply to the CastlePost.

"If someone believes they are negatively affected," Moore said, "they can always go back to the board of adjustments at any time and say 'This isn't working out. There's too much traffic; there's too much noise.' "