Woodford County

Versailles council votes to annex 336 acres; possibilities for development are discussed

Part of the Edgewood Farm land to be annexed by the city of Versailles is planted in soybeans. Another part of the farm is planted in corn.
Part of the Edgewood Farm land to be annexed by the city of Versailles is planted in soybeans. Another part of the farm is planted in corn. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

Versailles City Council voted Tuesday to annex 336 acres of farmland on the city’s east side.

The annexation had been opposed by some who decried the loss of Edgewood Farm for an influx of apartments and houses along an already busy U.S. 60 corridor east of Versailles.

But council member Ann Miller called the annexation “positively an historic chapter for the city of Versailles and Woodford County.”

“The economic engine here will generate jobs, housing and economic stability for all of us in the foreseeable future,” Miller said.

Miller and council members Mary Bradley, Owen Roberts, Carl Ellis and Ken Kerkhoff voted for the annexation and rezoning ordinance.

This is 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, between the new Kroger and Paynes Mill Road.

Bruce Simpson, the attorney who represented the developer, CRM Companies, said the mixture of residential, commercial, office and industrial uses planned for the annexed property will be good for the community.

“And eventually I think all the citizens who had an issue with the proposal will see that it was the right proposal and that it will be developed professionally by a top-quality developer,” Simpson said. “Even those who opposed it now will see that it is a very worthy project.”

Some critics had questioned whether Bluegrass Community Hospital in Versailles truly intends to relocate from Amsden Avenue to a corner of the annexed property.

But Simpson said the hospital “is ready to relocate there. ... They will be the first purchaser of property to locate there.”

Miller expressed a desire for a road to go through the annexed property and act as a “main entrance” for More Than a Bakery, the new baking factory that has broken ground on a neighboring property.

That way, Big Sink Pike could be a secondary access for the new plant, which will make crackers and cookies.

John Soper, chairman of the Economic Development Authority, said the idea of a road “has been expressed as a possibility” with the baking company.

There are already possibilities of new employers coming in and making use of the annexed land to be rezoned for industry.

There has been talk of starting a mill that would provide locally grown wheat for the baking plant. Or there might be a receiving station for locally grown grains, Soper said.

A barley malting operation is looking into Versailles, and that might require a railroad siding, Soper said.

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 the help of citizen comments.

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

The annexation will become effective once the ordinance is published in The Woodford Sun, the local weekly newspaper.