We don’t agree with the planning staff’s conclusion that a proposed waste transfer station on Lisle Industrial Avenue “should not adversely affect” surrounding properties.
But even if we did agree, the standard is too low if Lexington is truly committed to supporting existing neighborhoods and farmland.
The Board of Adjustment should turn down Republic Services’ application at its Friday meeting. Although its name declares Lisle Industrial Avenue’s position in a part of Lexington historically set aside for heavy industry, development in this sector of the city these days indicates a different future.
The short road is separated from the long-established Meadowthorpe neighborhood only by Leestown Road, and the recent Townley development and Meadowthorpe Shopping Center are just north of the Lisle site.
Lisle winds south around the 13 acres of open land left after the Bluegrass Stockyards fire earlier this year, to Forbes Road. Forbes then crosses Town Branch on its way to Old Frankfort Pike, which becomes Manchester Street, home to the nearby Distillery District.
This is an area that is poised to take off, one that could link downtown and the Distillery District to the neighborhoods that line Leestown Road — Meadowthorpe and Townley inside New Circle Road and the Masterson Station and McConnell’s Trace developments farther out. The Town Branch Trail, which follows the historic stream, will soon link this part of the county to downtown, making the area even more desirable for walkers, runners and cyclists.
However, it’s unlikely that Lisle Industrial will play much of a role in this renaissance, if Republic Services does get the zoning exception it’s seeking for the waste transfer station.
The buildings on Lisle do not have the same architectural interest as the old distilleries in the Distillery District, but the lesson that once-neglected areas close to the heart of the city can turn around quickly remains nonetheless. This area, once on the far edge of Lexington and well-suited for businesses that neighborhoods don’t want nearby, is now near its heart.
Republic anticipates 157 trips a day by trucks containing trash, 30 of them huge semi-tractor trailers. If the business grows that will of course increase. Republic’s application makes the case that it will take appropriate measures to reduce noise, odor, pollution and debris but under the best-case scenario investment will be limited by proximity to a waste transfer station.
This community has a long history of limiting urban growth to protect farmland but there is always pressure to “open up” more farm acreage to accommodate more housing, retail and business space. One important way to alleviate that pressure is to make the best use of acreage within the urban boundary.
This is not the best use and it will discourage more beneficial uses in the entire area. Lexington can and must do better.