Op-Ed

Planning Lexington’s future — make your voice count

Aerial view of a subdivision near Man o’ War Boulevard in Lexington
Aerial view of a subdivision near Man o’ War Boulevard in Lexington File photo

Every five years Lexington updates its Comprehensive Plan, which provides the blueprint for how and where our community grows.

The first step in the process for the 2018 plan is for the Planning Commission to vote on the overarching goals and objectives that guide more detailed decisions on everything from zoning categories to street width. The Planning Commission then sends a recommendation to the Urban County Council, which ultimately adopts a set of goals and objectives.

The Planning Commission public hearing on the goals and objectives is Thursday, August 31 at 1:30 p. m. in Council Chambers in the Government Center. Citizens who care about Lexington’s growth should plan to attend and share their opinions.

Kentucky law requires public input to be gathered and considered as part of the comprehensive planning process. While the city has always provided some opportunity for citizens to share their thoughts, unprecedented efforts were undertaken as part of this update. We applaud the city and the planning staff for the hard work and creativity that went into these efforts.

The community was asked to “Imagine Lexington” through many public input opportunities, including the On the Table event, the city’s Greenspace Survey, the Emerge Conference, and public input meetings.

Over 11,000 Lexingtonians responded and provided remarkably consistent feedback.

Overwhelmingly, our community does not support expansion of the Urban Services Boundary. Citizens support creation of a vibrant and sustainable city through responsible and equitable infill and redevelopment, but want policies to ensure intentionality, context-sensitive design, and transparency. Our community needs a comprehensive growth plan to provide certainty and clarity to neighborhoods and businesses, while also allowing for some flexibility to create the type of dynamic, walkable areas the community desires.

Directing development and investment inside our current urban limits is fiscally responsible, accommodates growth sustainably, and stimulates investment into and improvement of established neighborhoods, public spaces, and commercial areas. We should continue to invest in, improve, and repair what we’ve already built.

The planning staff has issued their final recommended goals and objectives. The vision laid out in the draft is innovative, responsible, and sustainable. The draft comprehensively addresses the fundamental growth issues facing our community — affordable housing, housing for seniors and young professionals, design guidelines, parks and green spaces, economic development, environmental stewardship, redevelopment of commercial corridors, and transportation are just some of the land-use topics prioritized in the draft.

The recommendations are based on objective data and tested planning principals that take a long view — that is what our community has asked for and deserves. The key to achieving the vision laid out is not expanding the Urban Services Boundary or Rural Activity Centers.

With over 17,000 acres of vacant, undeveloped and underutilized land inside the current Urban Services Boundary, we have plenty of room to grow.

The draft goals and objectives are responsive to the desires of Lexingtonians. We were asked to imagine Lexington, and we did that with a clear and consistent vision for our community.

Giving citizens the opportunity to share their voices is important. However, it is also important that those voices are heard and respected.

Make sure your voice counts. Please attend the Aug. 31 public hearing or submit comments to imagine@lexingtonky.gov. To read Fayette Alliance’s full position statement on the draft goals and objectives, visit fayettealliance.com.

Susan B. Speckert is executive director of the Fayette Alliance.

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