How we make decisions about the most important aspect of land-use in our community is about to change.
Since 1958, a major aspect of development has been governed by an Urban Services Boundary, with its contours determined, often in a fairly contentious manner, in the mandated five-year update of the Comprehensive Plan.
At its Nov. 16 meeting, the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council voted unanimously to adopt a new set of goals and objectives for our Comprehensive Plan. These goals and objectives make it clear that efforts at infill and efficient use of land remain primary, but they also include language that provides for a change in the way we make decisions about any shift in the present balance between urban and rural land.
The new language charges the LFUCG planning staff to conduct a study that will analyze and categorize all rural land and serve as the basis for “a new process for long-term land use decisions,” one that “specifies triggers, thresholds, and timing” for any change from rural to urban designation.
The new process, once completed and adopted as an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, will supersede the present goal that maintains the current boundaries of the Urban Services Boundary and the Rural Activity Centers.
In practice, this means that Planning Commission decisions about land use will be guided on an ongoing basis by the two complementary elements of the new process. First, an agreed-upon set of metrics will guide decisions about whether conditions warrant any expansion. Second, the comprehensive analysis of all rural land will guide decisions about which parcels, if any, can be converted from rural to urban uses.
Everyone recognizes that rural land in Fayette County is a finite resource. Everyone recognizes the value of that rural land to our economy and our quality of life. Everyone also recognizes that at some point — whether now, or in the near future, or in the distant future, whether by firm decisions setting limits or by filling every available parcel with buildings — we will have no more land to transform from rural to urban uses.
This new process included in the goals and objectives provides a tool for both short-range and long-range planning for the best uses of that finite resource to ensure the continued prosperity of our community. This makes so much more sense than arguing every five years about whether to expand the Urban Services Boundary.