Lexington’s urban growth boundary steers investment into old neighborhoods and idle commercial districts.
That’s good, but not if the new investment victimizes rather than benefits longtime residents and businesses.
While public debate often zeroes in on the line that protects agriculture, what’s being built, rebuilt and displaced in the city’s core is just as critical to Lexington’s future and quality of life.
It’s good news, then, that a newly formed task force will begin tackling the many questions raised by what Vice Mayor Steve Kay called “the challenges of growth within our finite boundaries.”
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First District Council member James Brown will chair the Task Force on Neighborhoods in Transition.
Brown’s district, which lies north of Main Street and is full of historic building stock, has become a magnet for renovators and restorers and has spawned cool restaurants, entertainment venues and businesses.
The resulting rise in property values and taxes, along with eager speculators and developers, is putting pressure on homeowners, many of whom live on fixed incomes. The even larger crisis, Brown says, is displaced renters.
The pressures that come with infill and redevelopment are not limited to Jefferson Street, North Limestone and environs.
Other neighborhoods and business districts, inside and outside of New Circle Road, are or will be grappling with similar challenges.
How do we accommodate change and growth without sacrificing what’s humane and authentic and pricing people out of a home?
How Lexington responds will in large measure define the city’s future. It’s very important — and also very possible — to get this right.
Brown is correct when he says there’s no quick fix. But the sooner we start, the better. Brown plans to tap into ideas from other cities and make the task force meetings accessible to the people who live in transitioning neighborhoods.
The vice mayor is spot on when he said: “We do not want to become a community where the people who provide our basic services are unable to afford to live here.”