2014 Year In Review
We rely on your support to accomplish our work. By investing in Fayette Alliance’s mission you can help us continue to grow our city and promote our farms.
Lexington-Fayette County will be the model for innovative and sustainable growth, by connecting and balancing its vibrant city with its productive and unique Bluegrass farmland.
The Fayette Alliance is a coalition of citizens dedicated to achieving sustainable growth in Lexington-Fayette County through land use advocacy, education, and promotion.
As the voice for sustainable growth, the Fayette Alliance believes that preserving our unique, productive Bluegrass farmland, advancing innovative development, and improving our infrastructure are essential to our collective success in Lexington. Through our efforts at government and beyond, The Fayette Alliance positively impacts planning and zoning policies – which are the building blocks of a better quality of life, economy, and environment for all of us.
We accomplished our mission in 2014 by moving the following initiatives forward:
- Supported a $200,000 brown field grant from the EPA to rehabilitate the Old Courthouse. If secured, this grant will address many environmental issues in Lexington’s Old Courthouse building—located at 215 West Main Street—such as cleaning up lead-based paint, asbestos-containing materials, mold, and bird droppings. Ultimately, these efforts will facilitate the redevelopment of this landmark property. Work is ongoing.
- Supported House Bill 282, which expands the scope of development projects eligible for $20 million in incentives under the KY Investment Act. Specifically, the program would include mixed-use and residential infill development located in central business districts and low-income census tracts. The Bill died in committee, however it will likely be discussed during the next KY General Assemby legislative session. Work is ongoing.
- Continue to collaborate with Commerce Lexington, LFUCG, and other community stakeholders to examine the thousands of acres of land already inside our Urban Services Area earmarked for economic and industrial development. Feasible strategies and incentives must be determined to leverage this property. If successful, this effort will reduce the need to expand our city limits into farmland for growth in the future, and create value on vacant and blighted properties for Lexington’s benefit. Work is ongoing.
- Supported incorporating a tunnel and bridge for the Town Branch bike path as part of the New Circle Road expansion project. The tunnel would cost just 1% of the $80 million highway improvement plan and would advance a much-needed multi-modal transportation option for Lexingtonians. The KY Department of Transportation tabled the tunnel concept in summer 2014, but work is ongoing to get traction for this important project.
- Continue to work with Keeneland, SOIL, LFUCG, and other interested stakeholders to monitor the potential development plans of Bluegrass Airport—which, if implemented, may expand airport facilities and commercial uses into adjacent rural areas. Work is ongoing.
- Supported 21c Museum Hotel’s application for a $6 million Section 108 HUD Loan to LFUCG. Without the loan, this catalytic infill project cannot move forward. The 21c museum-hotel project represents a $43.3 million investment in the heart of downtown Lexington that will adaptively re-use our iconic First National Building to provide a boutique hotel, gourmet restaurant, and art museum for locals and visitors alike. Council approved the HUD loan, and construction is underway.
- Served on the Design Excellence Steering Committee at LFUCG, to advance design guidelines and development incentives for downtown Lexington. If successful, this program can provide a template for how we responsibly promote growth throughout our neighborhoods across the city. Work is ongoing to better identify nature and feasibility of development incentives. Council will likely review the proposal in 2015.
- Supported the 2015 LFUCG Budget. Council adopted the budget. Highlights include:
· $2 million local-match for the Purchase of Development Rights program which will preserve and promote the “factory floor” of Fayette County’s signature agricultural industry and iconic Bluegrass landscape;
· $20,000 allocation to finance the Neighborhood Information Management System (NIMS). This computer database will track crime, LexCall service, code enforcement, and building permits in neighborhoods surrounding the University of Kentucky campus. Such information will be instrumental in assessing challenges and opportunities in town/gown areas; promote collaboration between U.K. and the city of Lexington; and inform land use policies moving forward;
· $100,000 bond allocation to complete renovations to the historic Kentucky Theatre, which is a community icon that contributes to Lexington’s civic pride and character;
· Nearly $1 million in allocations to maintain greenways and improve parks in our neighborhoods, which are essential in advancing Lexington’s unique sense of community and quality of life.
- Supported the ordinance creating the Affordable Housing Fund and its Governing Board. Lexington must address its shortage of affordable housing for working families, as part of a viable and equitable growth strategy for the community. This is a real need. A comprehensive and coordinated effort is needed to address this complex issue, and an Affordable Housing Fund (“Fund”) is a critical piece of the puzzle. With the proper goals in place, the Fund can leverage resources to build projects, and improve property values throughout Lexington-Fayette County. Work is ongoing.
- Hired renowned local planning firm Lord Aeck Sargent to examine the feasibility of establishing a comprehensive, multi-modal trail system in the public rights of way along rural roads in Fayette County. If done, Fayette County can explore how to balance recreational access with the liability and logistical needs of our signature livestock industries on farms. A diverse steering committee is helping Fayette Alliance advance this initiative, and work is ongoing. A report will be released in early 2015.
- Supported a Text Amendment to Article 22 of our Zoning Ordinance to establish a Planned Unit Development-2 (PUD-2) ZONE for the construction of the LuigART Maker’s Spaces in downtown Lexington. The LuigART $5 million development will be in a three-block area bounded by North Limestone Street, Maple Street, and R.J. Corman Rail Line, and West Seventh Street.
- Actively engaged in the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment Committee at LFUCG, to responsibly advance recreational opportunities in our productive and sensitive agricultural areas of Fayette County. The final report was presented to the LFUCG Planning Commission in spring 2014, and work to implement the recommendations is ongoing.
- Monitored the proposed Midland Avenue TIF district in downtown Lexington, which if initiated, will represent millions of dollars in needed mixed-use development and infrastructure improvements in the historic east end neighborhood. Work is ongoing, and we will likely weigh in on this project during the zoning and development plan stages in 2015.
- Established a Fayette Alliance Foundation, which will conduct and expand the outreach, education, and research initiatives of the Fayette Alliance Inc. and its efforts to sustainably grow our city and promote our farms for the benefit of Lexington-Fayette County. Work is ongoing to lay the strategic framework for this transformational arm of our organization. The Foundation will likely be operational by late 2015 or early 2016.
- Sponsored and organized Lexington’s third annual Citizens Planning Academy—teaching 25 local citizens the “ins and outs” of city planning, to better prepare our community leaders on shaping the future of our city.
- Partnered with Fayette County Farm Bureau and Fayette County Neighborhood Council to organize the LFUCG Mayoral and At-Large Candidate Forum. Over 100 people attended to hear our future leaders share their opinions on key local issues and vision for Lexington-Fayette County.
- Created an online LFUCG Election portal that showcases our City Council Candidates’ Election Questionnaires. Candidate questionnaires are the cornerstone of our voter education efforts during each election cycle.
- Organized several “LexRevealed: Discovering Fayette County’s People & Places” events including a tour of Alltech and a guided hike of Floracliff Nature Sanctuary.
- Gave several presentations on the importance of sustainable growth in Lexington to many community stakeholders, including students at the University of Kentucky College of Law and College of Geography; the Amercian Farmland Trust National Conference; Fayette County Farm Bureau; and neighborhood associations.
- Organized several farm tours for visiting conferences including the American Farmland Trust National Conference and the American Planning Association Conference.
- Contributed to the Purchase of Development Rights Program video that educates the public on the importance of farmland preservation and the signature agricultural industries it supports in Lexington. This initiative is needed to highlight the value of the Purchase of Development Rights program from a quality of life, economic development, and environmental stewardship perspective, which is essential for its continued support today and in the future.
- Partnered with the Lexington Downtown Development Authority to initiate the Town Branch Water Walk project, which will explore the Town Branch Watershed through a series of downloadable podcasts and maps for self-guided walking tours. The tours will teach the public not only about this hidden body of water in downtown Lexington, but aims to reveal the history of the waterway and educate property owners and residents on how to connect with and improve upon the quality of water within the greater Town Branch Watershed. Lessons learned can be applied to all parts of our community, urban and rural, as we continue to strive for sustainable growth in Lexington-Fayette County.
- In October 2014, we were proud to sponsor the American Farmland Trust national conference. It was held in Lexington, KY to examine the importance of growing “up not out” in addressing farmland loss and food security issues.
- Organized the 8th Annual Bluegrass International Cup at historic Mt. Brilliant Farm, benefitting Fayette Alliance and the Markey Cancer Foundation. Festivities included the 3rd Annual Evening in the Gardens held the night before the polo match. More than 600 people joined us for a weekend of high goal polo, live music, and delicious food, resulting in the most profitable Bluegrass International Cup to date.
- In March, we launched a new website as part of our ongoing re-branding and marketing efforts. With the help of Bluegrass Internet Services, we were able to streamline our website, making it easier for visitors to navigate through our work, upcoming events, and land-use news.
- We partnered with WKYT-27 and LEX-18 to give away two private boxes to Keeneland. This initiative raised awareness for Fayette Alliance in the community, and over 2,500 people entered the combined giveaways.
- Sponsored the 3rd Annual AIA Design Slam—during which several local architecture firms competed in a design competition focusing on redeveloping a vacant lot across from Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington. The competition promoted the importance of good urban design in reviving downtown areas. We donated our portion of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
- Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on a local build. Promoting affordable housing is a key policy of Fayette Alliance’s land use mission to create a vibrant city that is balanced with, and connected to our Bluegrass farmland.
- Sponsored the Jefferson Street Corridor portion of the 2014 Trash Bash in partnership with Bluegrass Greensource. This street-clean up raised awareness for anti-littering and beautification campaigns in downtown Lexington.
- In 2014, our constituent base grew 80.76%, the largest growth rate we’ve seen to date. We now have 12,959 constituents.
Help us continue our work to grow our city and promote our farms by investing in Fayette Alliance today.