Woodford County

Versailles moves toward annexing 336 acres of farmland for development

In late June, corn grew on part of Edgewood Farm off U.S. 60 east of Versailles.
In late June, corn grew on part of Edgewood Farm off U.S. 60 east of Versailles. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

Versailles City Council is on its way to annexing 336 acres of farmland on the city’s east side. Some of the land will be used for a new hospital.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the Woodford County planning commission’s findings and recommendation to rezone the land, owned by Edgewood Farm, for light industrial, commercial, office and residential uses.

The council also heard first reading of a rezoning and annexation ordinance. A second reading and vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Aug. 2.

If given final approval then, this will be the largest annexation since the city voted in 2014 to annex 241 acres on the south side of U.S. 60. The Edgewood property discussed Tuesday is on the north side of U.S. 60 and between the new Kroger and Paynes Mill Road.

Billy Van Pelt II of Woodford Forward, a local advocacy group for farmland preservation, expressed disappointment in the city’s action. He said the council “ignored the communitywide opposition that was clearly recorded and expressed” to the planning commission.

Land for a new hospital is included in the annexed property. At an April hearing, representatives of Bluegrass Community Hospital said the existing 25-bed hospital in Versailles is out of date.

The new hospital is part of a proposed mixed-use development of 405 acres planned by CRM Companies. Some 69 of the acres are already in the city limits; the rest of the land is the subject of the proposed rezoning and annexation.

The new hospital would go on nearly 30 acres at the corner of U.S. 60 and Paynes Mill Road that are designated for professional office use.

Some residents along Big Sink Pike and Williams Lane had expressed concerns that development of the annexed land will worsen existing and long-standing stormwater drainage problems.

Developers have said they will manage runoff from the property.

Opponents had said the development was a bad idea, not just for the loss of farmland but because it expands the urban service boundary of Versailles before the 2011 comprehensive plan, a guide for land use, has been updated with help of citizen comments.

But the planning commission had cited a couple of cases in 2013 and earlier this year where it had amended the comprehensive plan for the purpose of adding acreage to the urban service area.

Most of Edgewood Farm is zoned for agricultural uses. CRM Companies plans to use the land for apartments, single-family houses, highway businesses, light industry and professional offices.