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Floor Area Ratio Position Statement

UPDATE: PLN-ZOTA-20-00002 was unanimously approved on June 25, 2020.


Dear Chairman Owens and Planning Commission Members,

Please accept this letter on behalf of the Fayette Alliance with respect to PLN-ZOTA-20-00002: ARTICLE 8 – FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) UPDATES FOR R-3, R-4, AND R-5 ZONES, a petition for a Zoning Ordinance text amendment to update Article 8 to modify the allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and Lot Coverage in the Planned Neighborhood Residential (R-3), High Density Apartment (R-4) and High Rise Apartment (R-5) zones.

Founded in 2006, Fayette Alliance is a coalition of citizens dedicated to achieving sustainable growth in LexingtonFayette County through land use advocacy, education, and research. We believe that preserving our unique and productive Bluegrass farmland, advancing smart growth, innovative development and improving our infrastructure are all essential to Lexington’s continued success.

In furtherance of this mission, we respectfully submit the following with regard to our support for ZOTA 20-00002.

In order to allow and encourage our community’s growth strategy of infill and re-development to be brought to fruition, we must first acknowledge, together, that many aspects of our existing ordinances prevent us from doing so. They are not written with infill and re-development projects in mind; they are written for large, greenfield lots and the type of sprawl development that was most commonplace at the time they were executed. They are outdated and part of our obligation as a community, the next step after adopting our Comprehensive Plan, is to update them to reflect and govern our existing and future needs.

These types of changes are the correct next step in the process of updating our regulatory framework to match our growth strategy. Despite the surprise by some at the obstacles we’ve faced in putting this strategy into action, it was never going to be a quick or easy process. Change is difficult. Infill is challenging. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it; that means that we must work together to acknowledge, and then thoughtfully and innovatively address these obstacles, paving the way for a type of growth that our entire community determined, based on objective evidence and input, was the best way forward. The reasons our community chose a smart and sustainable growth strategy exist now exactly as they did then (protecting our unique resources, infrastructure costs, and increased transit opportunities, to name a few), and are more important than ever to ensure our collective success, despite the obstacles that stand in the way.

ZOTA 20-00002 is an example of the type of updates to our ordinance we must implement to remove barriers to the type of growth we are trying to achieve. The point of Floor Area Ratio requirements are to limit the size of a building in relation to the lot on which it is located. The proposed updates take into consideration the smaller lots we have as a result of our community growth, and reasonably and incrementally adjust and increase the opportunities for developing those lots in ways that will be advantageous to our city. These updates are not the only updates we need to our regulations to effect the changes our Comprehensive Plan sets out, but they are an excellent beginning.

The amendments contemplated, on their face, are consistent with Theme A, Goal # 2 of Imagine Lexington; supporting infill and redevelopment throughout the Urban Service Area as a strategic component of growth. Our City’s work towards implementation of Imagine Lexington is evident in these types of updates to our zoning code and we applaud Planning Staff for their hard work in making this vision a reality.

Fayette Alliance appreciates the Planning Staff’s and Planning Commission’s leadership and foresight in moving forward with the proposed amendments. We respectfully recommend the approval of the same for the betterment of our community. I know how committed each of you are to Lexington.

On behalf of the Fayette Alliance, I sincerely thank you for your consideration.

With warm regards,

Brittany Roethemeier
Executive Director
Fayette Alliance