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Joe Smith- 2018 Candidate Questionnaire

Running for: Urban County Council- District 2

Short Bio:

I am a Lexington native who loves my community and cares deeply about our City. I am a Lexington Catholic and University of Kentucky alumni, active member of St. Peter Church, proudly married to Sharon for over 30 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and obviously a diehard UK fan!
I am running for 2nd District CouncilMember for three reasons: to support a strong, inclusive and sustainable District’s quality of life, invest in our community’s future, and stand for the values of our neighborhoods. I am very passionate about services to neighborhoods, closing gaps, and advancing opportunities and academic excellence in our local school system, livable and sustainable community growth and development, jobs and economic sustainability and businesses growth and development. I believe in building strong relationships with community leaders and residents.
I bring to the LFUCG Council a wealth of knowledge and experience about our community and the 2nd district in which I have resided in the Townley Park neighborhood for over 10 years. My experiences include over 30 years as a realtor, 10 years in banking, and numerous years of volunteer service. A few examples include: Lexington Board of Realtors Equal Opportunity Committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, Board of Adjustments and Planning Commission, President of the Townley Park Homeowners Association, Lexington Jaycees, Lyric Task Force, etc. As 2nd District CouncilMember, I currently serve on the Planning & Public Safety Committee, General Government & Social Services Committee and Infill & Redevelopment Subcommittee Growth Strategy Workgroup.

1. Do you support prioritizing infill/redevelopment as Lexington’s primary growth strategy? Under what circumstances would you support expansion of the Urban Services Boundary or Rural Activity Centers?

I believe in identifying areas of opportunity for infill, redevelopment, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use development. We need to respect the context and design features of areas surrounding development projects and develop design standards and guidelines to ensure compatibility with existing urban form. Incorporating adequate greenspace and open space into all development projects will better serve the needs of the intended population. Implementing innovative programs, such as the public infrastructure fund and land bank programs is essential to facilitating sustainable development, including, but not limited to, housing affordable at all income levels and commercial and economic activity. Equally important is developing materials and implementing programs to educate the public about infill and redevelopment.
In addition, I believe another essential element is the consideration of the complexity of maintaining a balance between Planning for Urban Uses and Safeguarding Rural Land. The mutual goal is to uphold the Urban Service Area concept by continuing to monitor the absorption of vacant and underutilized land within the Urban Service Area, while requiring intense and sustainable development of all types within the Urban Service Area to accommodate future growth needs and safeguard rural land. I believe we can emphasize intense redevelopment of underutilized corridors, maximize development on vacant land within the Urban Service Area and promote redevelopment of underutilized land. By pursuing these strategies, I believe we can activate large underdeveloped landholdings within the Urban Service Area and ultimately achieve the goal of upholding the Urban Service Area concept in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

2. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while diversifying our housing stock to meet the needs of our community?

I believe in providing well-designed neighborhoods and communities by enabling existing and new neighborhoods to flourish by improving regulations, expanding opportunities for neighborhood character preservation, and public commitment to expand options for mixed-use and mixed-type housing throughout Lexington-Fayette County. I will continue to strive for positive and safe social interactions in neighborhoods, including, but not limited to, neighborhoods that connect for pedestrians and various modes of transportation. By minimizing disruption of natural features when building new communities, along with promoting, maintaining and expanding the urban forest throughout Lexington, we can protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods.
Successful Neighborhood growth relies on diversifying our housing stock to meet the needs of our community. I will continue to pursue incentives and regulatory approaches that encourage creativity and sustainability in housing development. By responsibly accommodating the demand for housing in Lexington, prioritizing higher density and mixture of housing types, I believe we will provide safe, affordable and accessible housing to meet the needs of our community residents, including our older and / or disadvantaged residents. Creating and implementing house incentives that strengthen the opportunities for higher density and housing affordability is essential.

3. What specific recommendations do you have to address Lexington’s affordable housing issue?

Housing plays a very important role in all our lives. The ability to choose where you live determines your access to other resources and services. It determines where your children go to school. it can affect your job and the type of healthcare you receive; and even the type of recreational activities in which you and your family participate.
I believe Lexington’s affordable housing must continue as a “top burner issue” for discussion. We must work to achieve an optimum level of communication between developers, LFUCG Planning Commission and staff, and citizens, including identifying ways to improve the goals and objectives.
We measure the effectiveness of our Comprehensive Plan by identifying indicators of success or failure and ways to increase accountability. However, the total increment of housing stock needed must meet the increase in housing demand.
Well-designed neighborhoods and communities enable existing and new neighborhoods to flourish through (1) improved regulation, (2) expanding opportunities for neighborhood character preservation and public commitment to options for mixed-use and mixed-type housing, and (3) provide educational resources and home-buyer lending opportunities.

4. The number of households headed by someone aged 65 or older is projected to increase significantly over the next decade and beyond. What specific recommendations do you have to meet the needs of our growing senior population?

Seniors prefer remaining in their communities rather than move to a new community more physically suited to their needs. The vast majority of older adults prefer to stay right where they are. However, changing healthcare needs, loss of mobility, financial concerns, home maintenance and increasing property taxes present significant impediments to this simple and primary desire. The demands to support seniors in the community can provide opportunities to advance quality growth objectives. Structuring community design, housing and healthcare to meet needs of seniors creates multiple social and economic benefits for the entire community. Pedestrian accessibility, efficient public transportation, housing type diversity, commercial/residential integration are all quality growth goals and aging in place necessities
Affordable options along the income spectrum should be available so all citizens and caregivers are able to choose from a range of alternatives. Flexibility requires that levels of health and housing supports be adjustable whether an individual lives in a single family home, rents a privately or publicly managed apartment or resides in an assisted living facility. The senior population presents not only challenges but opportunities. My experiences as a CouncilMember serving on the Senior Service Commission, present me with opportunities to explore new affordable services. Maintaining mixed-generation communities can maximize older adults’ capacity for self-help and community contribution. There are valuable links between the needs and skills of different age groups. By designing communities that are more accessible and livable, our senior population benefits by remaining in their homes and community.

5. Do you support an annual funding allocation for Lexington’s Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR)? Please list your specific ideas to support the continued strength and growth of our agricultural and tourism industries. 

Yes, I do support the annual funding allocation for Lexington’s PDR. Lexington needs to support the Purchase of Development Rights and private sector farmland conservation programs to protect, preserve and enhance our signature agricultural industries, historic structures, cultural landscapes, natural environments and community welfare.
By protecting and enhancing the natural, cultural, historic and environmental resources of Lexington-Fayette County’s Rural Service Area and Bluegrass farmlands, we continue to help promote the general agricultural brand and ensure Lexington-Fayette Urban County remains the Horse Capital of the World.

6. Citizens have noted frustration with traffic congestion. What are your specific ideas to address traffic congestion? 

I fully recognize traffic congestion as being high on the list of frustrations for our citizens. We have made great strides towards addressing traffic issues. Further, I am confident we will continue to work to address these issues in the future as the population density in Fayette County increases.
I believe we can improve traffic congestion by working to achieve an effective and comprehensive transportation system that supports a complete street concept and prioritizes a pedestrian-first design accommodating the needs of bicycle, transit and other vehicles. Developing a viable network of accessible transportation alternatives for residents and commuters is a challenge that I believe we must meet. To meet this challenge, our transportation network should include alternatives for mass transit, bicycles, walkways, ridesharing, greenways and other strategies. Some initial actions should include concentrating efforts to enhance mass transit along our corridors in order to facilitate better service for our growing population, as well as efficiencies in our transit system and traffic operation strategies. Considerations should include adjusting vehicle sizes and routes to best reflect resident and neighborhood needs. Education and public relations strategies can be implemented to encourage citizens to use mass transit and ridesharing with special traffic lanes during high commute periods to facilitate this method of travel.

7. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan for Lexington includes a goal to create “a new process for determining long-term land use decisions” involving the Urban Services Boundary and Rural Activity Centers. If you support the creation of this new process, what are some of the elements that should be included? 

Monitoring and safeguarding the development and otherwise absorption of land involving our Urban Services Boundary and Rural Activity Centers is essential to ensuring a good and sustainable quality of life for our community and its residents.
I support the creation of a new process for determining long-term land use decisions for these areas. I support the first objective of a study to analyze and categorize all rural land and to serve as the basis for the new process.. The development of the new process should involve diverse stakeholders and constituents, and a desire to meet the projected needs of agricultural and development communities. Preserving key agricultural resources from pressures of development, and identifying land for future urban development must be essential to the goals and objectives. The new process should designate rural land for long-term preservation, identify land for potential future urban development and specify triggers, thresholds and timing for the addition of the identified urban land into the Urban Service Boundary, and keep infill and land use efficiency as the continued primary objectives.

8. What is the biggest challenge facing your district? What are your specific recommendations to address that challenge?

It is very difficult to pick one major challenge facing the 2nd Council District. One is just as challenging as the other.
The 2nd District is one of the largest and most diverse Council districts, and is home to great tourism and recreational opportunities. Geographically, it extends from West High Street to Jefferson Street, including Manchester Street, Leestown, Georgetown, Citation, Newtown & West Short, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Streets.
As I work for the constituents of the 2nd District, I continue finding new opportunities and challenges daily that affect the District. Public Safety and Traffic issues can present very challenging problems. My district office continues to monitor the numerous police and traffic reports along the Newtown Road, Georgetown Road, Manchester/Old Frankfort Pike and Leestown Road corridors on a daily bases. We respond to citizen and neighborhood complaints advocating on their behalf with Traffic Engineering for necessary traffic concerns. I also communicate frequently with District Police Commanders, business, neighborhood associations, HOAs and other community leaders and residents about traffic control, speed deterrent signage and other issues Other major concerns include crime, redevelopment of business districts like Meadowthorpe and the Distillery, and the needed Public Library. As above-mentioned, we will continue to work closely with officials, business owners and neighborhood leaders and resident to address and resolve these and other issues. Our action agenda is “keep our ears to the ground”, listen to our District business owners and residents, communicate/coordinate with appropriate agencies and officials and respond promptly.