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Read about the future of the Urban Service Boundary

Election 2022 Candidate Questionnaire – James Brown

Running for: Council At-LargeJames Brown Election 2022

Question: What brought you to Lexington-Fayette County? What do you love about our community?

I’m a Lexington native. The reason I stay is because I love the people in our community. Lexington is a great place to live and raise a family, it has strong educational opportunities, with several signature industries and local amenities that add to the quality of life. Lexington-Fayette County with it’s trademark urban rural balance often feels like the biggest small town in the country.

Question: Like the rest of the nation, Lexington faces critical challenges around developing adequate Affordable housing for low-income families and increasing attainable missing middle housing for the average income resident. What specific policy recommendations do you have to address these different challenges?

Lexington has an Affordable Housing Fund that leverages city dollars to build and preserve new and existing affordable housing units intended to increase our local inventory. Currently our local growth strategy is infill and redevelopment which is intended to encourage and justify increased housing density in existing residential neighborhoods.

Question: The 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Lexington, prioritizes infill redevelopment within the Urban Service Boundary as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. How do you propose we incentivize infill and redevelopment to activate the approximately 17,000 acres of vacant, underused and underutilized land (much of which exists on our major commercial corridors) within the Urban Service Area? What specific policy recommendations or incentives do you think we could utilize to ensure we sustainably use our existing resources to meet our needs?

I propose we as a city continue to use small area plans and corridors studies to work with existing neighbors, city planners, property owners and developers to better identify opportunities and better direct development. These focus and intentional plans can be used to identify more acceptable infill strategies and possibly incentivize development.

Question: The balance between our urban and rural areas is essential to our unique economy, environment, and quality of life in Lexington-Fayette County. Since the last expansion of the Urban Service Boundary in 1996, only 51% of the land brought within the boundary has been developed, and no Affordable housing has been built in those dedicated expansion areas. Do you support an expansion of the Urban Service Area during the current Comprehensive Planning update process? Please explain.

I support the recent initiative to come up with a new process that goes beyond the traditional approach to decisions about expansion of the Urban Service Area.

Question: To grow Lexington-Fayette County sustainably, we must grow equitably and consider impacts on our marginalized and underserved communities. What specific policies would you recommend to incentivize community-driven investments in historically disinvested neighborhoods while preventing displacement which can result from gentrification? 

Implement the recommendations from the Neighborhoods in Transition Taskforce and the Housing and Gentrification subcommittee for the Mayor’s Commission on Racial Justice and Equality.

Question: What do you see as the pillars of Lexington-Fayette County’s strong and diverse economy? What specific policies do you recommend for: a) activating existing economic development land for jobs, such as the nearly 250 acres at Coldstream; b) creating opportunities for job growth utilizing the significant vacant office and commercial spaces within our urban area, and c) leveraging our unique assets and community strengths to support job growth and continued economic prosperity?

I see the pillars of our local economy has education, healthcare, agriculture and the hospitality and service industries. In order to activate the economic development land we need to look for high paying diploma or certification related jobs. In addition to our continued efforts to recruiting employers and jobs that require degrees or higher in order to support job growth in Lexington.

Question: Fayette County agriculture industries are a significant part of our local economy and cultural identity, having a $2.3 billion dollar annual economic impact, supporting 1 out of every 12 jobs, and anchoring a $2 billion dollar local tourism industry. What specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength of our agriculture industries and the rural land that supports them?

I support the opportunity to identify permanent or long range preservation action for our active, valuable agriculture land that is a significant part of our local economy.

Question: The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds offer Lexington-Fayette County a transformational opportunity to invest in transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, community resilience and broadband. What specific policy recommendations do you have for approaching quality of life investments and capital improvements to make the most efficient use of these funds in the coming years? What are the top priorities for investment in Lexington-Fayette County?

I fell that the top priority for investment in Lexington with Infrastructure Law funds are transportation, community resilience, broadband, environmental remediation.

Question: According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the average Lexingtonian spends 24% of their income on transportation costs and 26% on housing. What specific policies would you propose to incentivize public transportation, bike/pedestrian improvements, and walkable developments near existing infrastructure to help alleviate both traffic and transportation costs in our community?

I support a greater investment in our public transportation infrastructure, logistics and amenities. I support incentivizing residential and commercial developments to be more bike/pedestrian safe and accessible. I also believe we should maximize more opportunities to connect our local parks and neighborhood with our existing trail system to help reduce transportation cost.