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Mayoral Forum Will Help Lexington Vote Smart on Growth, Development

Originally posted online on September 28, 2018 in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Op-Ed by Susan Speckert, Fayette Alliance Executive Director

Local leaders make decisions that impact our daily lives in the most immediate ways—from street paving, snow removal, and trash pick-up to parks, traffic flow, and sewer services. One of the central functions of local government is land-use planning. How and where our community grows is largely decided by local elected and appointed officials through planning and zoning laws and policies. Planning and zoning provide the building blocks for our community’s quality of life, economic development, and long-term success.

Fayette County has a long history of innovative land-use planning. We were the first community in the nation to create an urban growth boundary in 1958. The Urban Services Boundary serves twin purposes—it preserves our productive and irreplaceable farmland and landscape, while directing development and investment inside the city limits. The USB has served us well and helps us grow in a smart and fiscally responsible manner.

Since the last expansion of the USB in 1996, Lexington’s leaders have committed to a long-range growth strategy based primarily on infill and redevelopment. The benefits of this strategy are clear. Infill and redevelopment makes smart economic sense because it focuses investment and development where existing or planned infrastructure exist. It also makes it easier and more likely that blighted, underutilized and vacant land will be reclaimed for commercial, residential, and industrial uses—improving real estate values in our city, while also providing more opportunities for affordable housing and a variety of economic development.

It’s a strategy that is clearly working—just look around. Lexington is coming to life in ways never imagined—from the exciting buzz we are experiencing downtown and in our neighborhoods, to leveraging our world-class rural landscape in new and exciting ways—from the local food movement to expanded rural recreational opportunities and “Horse Country” tours. We’re on the right track.

Lexington is a growing community. To realize its great potential, we must diligently recommit to the principles of smart, equitable growth and continue on the current path that has produced such beneficial results.

In November, the elected officials who make the decisions about how our community will grow are on the ballot. We will elect a new Mayor, and all Council seats are up for re-election.

Voting is the most fundamental way to ensure your voice is heard. Fayette Alliance is committed to helping voters learn where the candidates stand on the most pressing growth issues facing our community—from affordable housing and neighborhood issues to agriculture, tourism and age-friendly development.

Along with our partners, AARP Kentucky, Fayette County Farm Bureau, Fayette County Neighborhood Council, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Lexington Public Library and WKYT, we are proud to present candidate responses to our questionnaire as well as to host a Mayoral Forum. These important resources provide insight into how the candidates intend to address some of our biggest challenges and opportunities. For more information, visit fayettealliance.com.

• Mayoral Forum: Tuesday, October 2, 2018.
Doors open at 5:30 PM, Forum begins at 6:00 PM
Moderated by WKYT’s Bill Bryant
Meet and Greet afterwards with the candidate

• Candidate Questionnaire: Visit www.fayettealliance.com