Politics & Government

Former Lexington Hearing & Speech Center property rezoned because council lacked quorum

A public hearing before Lexington's Urban County Council about a zone change for North Ashland Avenue properties owned by the Lexington Hearing & Speech Center was canceled Tuesday for lack of a quorum.

As a result, the Planning Commission's decision to grant the zone change request stands, said Bruce Simpson, attorney for the center.

The center's request to change the zoning of three properties from single-family residential (R-1) to professional office (P-1) had been opposed by the Mentelle Neighborhood Association.

The Planning Commission disregarded the city professional planning staff's recommendation to reject the zone change.

The Urban County Council has the final vote on all zone-change requests. It must decide within 90 days of the Planning Commission's vote. Wednesday was the 90th day, so there is no time to schedule another public hearing.

"I think it's terrible that some of our council members did not show up to do their duty," said Lewis Gardner, Mentelle Neighborhood Association president.

It takes 10 of the 15 council members to constitute a quorum. Council clerk Susan Lamb said 10 members were present for the opening of the special council meeting, but Doug Martin and KC Crosbie recused themselves.

"The last time a public hearing had to be canceled for lack of a quorum was 2005," Lamb said. "It doesn't happen very often, but it's unfortunate when it does."

The hearing and speech center's school and day care were located for many years in three houses at 154, 158 and 162 North Ashland Avenue in the Mentelle neighborhood as a non-conforming use in the residential area.

In 2010, the center announced it was buying the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School on Henry Clay Boulevard. In August, the school and day care program moved into the new quarters.

Simpson said the center tried for about a year and a half to sell its North Ashland Avenue property. The Children's Advocacy Center agreed to buy the property for $505,000, contingent on getting it rezoned.

The center will occupy two of the houses that served as the Hearing & Speech Center's school. The third house will be sold to attorney Jill Hall Rose for her law office.