On Tuesday, October 25th, the Council voted to delay consideration of proposed amendments to the Economic Development Zone (ED ZOTA) in order to get more information about the complexity of the issues raised by the ZOTA. The Council has scheduled a workshop on the ZOTA on December 1st at 4 PM.
The last time the Urban Service Boundary was expanded in 1996, the ED Zone was created to provide available “jobs land” to attract high-wage paying employers. Two parcels were specifically designated as ED land, due, in large part, to their proximity to an interstate. From its inception, the ED Zone was intended to be a buffer zone between urban and rural areas. Thus, the ED Zone was designed to accommodate campus-like settings that intentionally did not include high-intensity uses like retail and residential.
The current permitted uses provide flexibility to accommodate many types of employers. They are marketable, create high-wage paying jobs, and are designed to have minimal impacts on surrounding rural and residential neighbors. Importantly, the permitted uses support the primary pillars of our economy–health care, high-tech, and agriculture.
The land has not developed since 1996. In an effort to encourage development, the Planning Commission has recommended dramatically altering the ED Zone to allow “mixed-use” type developments, including retail and high-density residential. The majority of the proposed amendments conflict with the intent of the Zone and the requirements of the Expansion Area Master Plan, the Plan adopted in 1996 that established permitted land uses and development in the expansion areas.
Additionally, the majority of the proposed additional uses do not promote the type of high-wage paying jobs for which the Zone was created. When the Urban Service Boundary was expanded to create this Zone, a promise was made to the community. That promise should be honored.
The Fayette Alliance is committed to working together to craft real solutions to encourage development of ED land. This can and should be accomplished without violating the intent of the Zone.
Much is at stake, and the issues are complex.
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