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Group Recommends New Recreational Uses and Agricultural Protections in Fayette County

Council Work Group Recommends New Recreational Uses and Agricultural Protections in Rural Fayette County

After nine months of study and discussion, a diverse stakeholder group representing government leadership, along with ecotourism, agriculture, neighborhood, and business interests, recommended new ways to encourage public access and recreation, while promoting the needs of our signature livestock operations in rural Fayette county.

Over the course of a twenty-meeting agenda, the ZOTA work group examined Lexington’s zoning ordinance, and suggested new zoning categories and land uses to encourage environmental stewardship, outdoor recreation, and production agriculture in Lexington’s diverse Bluegrass landscape.

Properly regulated canopy tours, hiking and biking trails, agritourism opportunities, and protections from disruptive commercial development for our equine and general ag operations were some of the main themes of the ZOTA report. Click here for more details.

Fayette Alliance was proud to participate in this balanced and progressive process. Yesterday, Council unanimously recommended the ZOTA report go to the Planning Commission for additional study and implementation. They will begin their work over the next several months, and will recommend legislation, for Council adoption, in the near future.

We will keep you posted of all ongoing developments at fayettealliance.com

Fayette Alliance’s Executive Director Knox van Nagell

Even popular development plans not above the law

Op-Ed by Knox van Nagell, 3.24.13, Kentucky.com

We talk a lot about what’s special, authentic and unique about Lexington.

Whether it’s going to the races at Keene-land or a University of Kentucky basketball game, strolling through our historic neighborhoods, enjoying Thursday Night Live downtown or experiencing one of our iconic Bluegrass farms —we have a lot of good things going on here. And it’s no accident.

Why are we different? Like so many cities in America, we were born from the western frontier, its plentiful water and rich land. And yet, unlike so many of our counterparts, we have not completely forsaken that birthright under the guise of quick profit, fast growth and progress — whatever that means.

The answer is simple and yet complex at the same time. Lexington is all about balance. It’s what we’re known for.

Physically, we are one of the few vibrant cities surrounded by productive and robust farmland. No other place in our region or maybe the country has such a tangible interplay between an urban and rural area. Atlanta? Nashville? Louisville? Cincinnati? Indianapolis? They don’t compare, and the list goes on and on.

By leveraging our built and natural environments, we’ve created a special place to call home and also do business. Like our landscape, our economy is balanced and diverse — rooted in health care, high-tech and agriculture; pillar industries that enabled us to weather the recent economic recession better than most.

Why is all of this relevant? Because the recent debate about Burgess Carey’s proposed canopy tour is troubling.

At this juncture, the issue is not whether you’re for it or against it; whether it’s good for the environment or not; or whether it’s a cool idea. There is a time and place for those discussions, specifically if and when new law is drafted allowing such a use in the future.

Today, the fundamental issue is whether city hall will remain committed to enforcing the zoning ordinances and processes that have served Lexington so well for decades.

This is not to say we don’t have our fair share of challenges to overcome. We do. But if you look at our track record, we have avoided catastrophic booms and busts because of our commitment to balance and, more importantly, planning.

As noted in a recent University of Kentucky economics study, “Fayette County’s brand is analogous to a stock of capital that was acquired over a long period and now yields returns without diminishing endowment.”

Discussion, analysis and land-use planning balance seemingly competing interests to advance the public good or collective brand of our community. Through constraint comes innovation.

Whether you live in the suburbs, the urban core or on a farm, planning and zoning is a legal framework that touches all of us in innumerable and advantageous ways — from public safety and environmental protection to real estate values, quality of life and the economy.

The zoning ordinance and its processes are the foundation of what makes Lexington, Lexington. They are the ties that bind and benefit us. If you disagree, visit a community without strong planning and zoning and see the result. It isn’t pretty.

According to the recent city investigation, Carey is moving forward with a development project for which he may not have permits or zoning authority. Appropriate governmental approvals and court rulings must be secured before construction begins, no matter how popular the canopy tour may be.

To ignore this process compromises the integrity of planning and zoning in Fayette County, sets a dangerous legal precedent that elevates Carey’s opinions and short-term gains over the long-term impacts and considerations of our community and courts. In other words, he’s acting above the law — and where is the balance in that?

Read More,

“Despite disapproval from some neighbors and threat of fines, Fayette County zipline tours draw customers” by Cheryl Truman, 3.30.13, Kentucky.com

“Lexington gives businessman 30 days to remove zip lines” by Beverly Fortune, 3.11.13, Kentucky.com

Zip Lining is a Proposed Part of Boone Creek Adventures Canopy Tour

Boone Creek Adventures is proposing a canopy tour development, complete with a welcome center, camping areas, catwalks, suspension bridges, zip lines, tree platforms, ropes courses and other elevated structures on the lower section of Boone Creek in South Eastern Fayette County. The area is a spectacular one, with a sensitive environment, several historic resources, mature hardwood trees, and delicate watersheds. Boone Creek Adventures also aims to build hiking, mountain biking, and fishing facilities on the 120+ acre site. The property is located in the “Agricultural-Rural”(A-R) zone of Fayette County.

While The Fayette Alliance understands that the canopy tour, in theory, could be a great thing for the community–it is premature in light of our current planning and zoning laws. The proposal is considered an “amusement park” under state law, and it’s currently prohibited in the A-R zone of Fayette County–the zoning category of the property.

If the canopy tour is allowed without first amending our local laws, it will set a dangerous countywide precedent by violating several key provisions of our Zoning Ordinance, Rural Land Management Plan, and Comprehensive Plan. In theory, the canopy tour may be a good idea that creates public appreciation for the Bluegrass and its remarkable natural resources—however, it’s premature in light of our current land-use requirements, and the Board of Adjustment’s jurisdiction.

More time and thought is needed on how to establish this facility on a countywide level, without jeopardizing our signature farmland, sensitive environmental areas and watersheds, and acclaimed signature industries.

Just as we have demonstrated over the last two months, The Fayette Alliance remains committed, in good faith, to work with leaders in the ag-community, Mr. Carey, and LFUCG staff to have this discussion in the text amendment process. We appreciate Mr. Carey’s earnest efforts and understand that eco-tourism could be a great thing for Lexington-Fayette County and the Bluegrass Region—but it must be done carefully and in concert with the land-use traditions and planning requirements that have served our community so well for so long. Click here for our official position statement.

On January 27th, 2012, the Board of Adjustment rejected the proposal 4-3, citing concerns that the project is an amusement park and not legally permitted for a rural area of Fayette County. Also, the Board was concerned about the public’s safety in the operation of such a canopy tour, due to Boone Creek’s limited access to fire, police and emergency medical vehicles.

We will keep you posted of all ensuing developments here at www.fayettealliance.com.

Vice Mayor Gorton Appoints Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment Work Group

by Jennifer Benningfield, 2.21.12, The Work Group Press Release

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton announced today the creation of a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment Work Group to address issues regarding tourism in Fayette County.

“It is important for us to recognize our strengths, such as our strong agricultural farms and businesses in Fayette County. This Work Group will be a mechanism for proactive evaluation of our potential for recreational opportunities,” said Gorton.

The Work Group will serve as an advisory body and will represent key stakeholders and community interests. The Work Group will study the need for and develop recommendations for the Urban County Council and the Planning Commission concerning the preparation of amendments to the Zoning Ordinance of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County, Kentucky, which govern and regulate commercial and non-commercial recreational activities as they relate to tourism.

Don Robinson of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and the Fayette Alliance will Chair the Work Group. Robinson will issue a report to the Urban County Council no later than August 30th, 2012…Press Release

Read more,

“Businessman plans to move forward with Boone Creek canopy tours by Beverly Fortune, 2.26.13, Kentucky.com

“Boone Creek Adventures sues zoning board over permit denial for proposed recreation site” 2.28.12, Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader

“Fayette Board of Adjustment rejects Boone Creek Adventures recreational facility” 1.28.12, Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader

“Fayette Board of Adjustment denies developer’s request” 1.28.12, Erik Rust, Business Lexington

“Neighbors taking care of Boone Creek watershed” 1.23.12, Lexington Herald-Review Op Ed, Gloria Martin

“Vet Boone Creek plan the right way” 1.20.20 Lexington Herald-Leader Editorial

“The Great Outdoors: Boone Creek Outdoors seeks to put the adventure back into local tourism” 1.19.2012, Erik Rust

“Boone Gorge proposal a test for Fayette’s future” 12.18.2011, Tom Eblen

Liberto Memo