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Pause on ZOTAs in the Rural Service Area Until the RLMP is Updated

Pause on ZOTAs in the Rural Service Area Until the RLMP is Updated

RLMP 2017

We and the undersigned organizations are calling on the Urban-County Council and the Mayor to support an update to the Rural Land Management Plan (RLMP) and pause Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments (ZOTAs) in the Rural Service Area.

Over the last twelve months, the Lexington-Fayette County community has seen multiple requests to our Planning Department and Planning Commission for zoning text amendments that fundamentally change the uses permitted on the unique and productive land in the Rural Service Area (RSA). These policy proposals have highlighted a concerning trend: Lexington is changing its long-established, county-wide zoning ordinances for individual developments without considering the broader impacts on the overall community or current and future investments and business opportunities in agricultural areas. These decisions have a significantly negative impact on the integrity of the Rural Service Area as a whole.

For these reasons, the organizations below have come together to request a temporary moratorium on ZOTAs in the RSA until the completion of an update to the Rural Land Management Plan (RLMP), an element of the Comprehensive Plan.

We’re calling on our elected officials and leaders in the community, to establish a diverse stakeholder group to work with the Rural Land Management Board (RLMB) on an updated analysis of the RSA. A roadmap for appropriate and compatible uses in Fayette County’s most sensitive areas, revised ordinance language, and definitions for our agricultural zones should be developed.

These efforts should include the following:

  • Update the RLMP, which includes Rural Activity Centers (RACs), newly established State and National Scenic Byways, national register properties, dwelling units, businesses, and more.

  • Define and establish the term and enforceability of “agricultural-nexus”, which should be required for any expanded/and or additional uses in our agricultural zones. Any proposed conditional uses must have a direct relationship to the agricultural lands on which the uses occur. Uses without these relationships threaten the intent of agricultural zones and are more likely to introduce inappropriate commercial activity that negatively impacts our RSA.

  • Evaluate existing non-agricultural uses in the Rural Area and what conditions, design standards, and screening requirements may be necessary to mitigate negative impacts.

  • Complete Small Area Plans and evaluate growth opportunities in the RSA to support agribusiness, agritourism, and agricultural industries overall, as recommended in Imagine Lexington, previous Comprehensive Plans, and the RLMP.

  • Establish and implement a policy requiring future ZOTAs impacting the RSA to be reviewed, revised, and recommendations provided by the RLMB before they are considered by the Planning Commission and the Urban County Council, pursuant to Article 1, Chapter 26 of the Code of Ordinances.

As the community evaluates new ways to accommodate growth, it must also continue its history of protecting the land which makes Lexington-Fayette County unique. The agricultural industries in our RSA are the economic engine of our community. The RLMP, updated in 2017, was intended to be a comprehensive analysis of what exists in the RSA, and a key part of the Comprehensive Plan. It includes a discussion of what land uses are compatible with existing rural neighborhoods, agricultural operations, and agriculturally supportive businesses. It is the primary guide for responsible growth in the RSA.  Now is the time to update the information which is necessary for growth decisions and the community’s continued success.

Lexington-Fayette County must continue to pursue the primary growth strategy of infill and redevelopment in our designated urban areas and build sustainable processes for future growth. We must also take a collective pause to evaluate and analyze how to best support the unique cultural identity and the agricultural industries in the RSA. The continued economic success of Lexington-Fayette County depends on it. We look forward to working with leadership and other community stakeholders on this effort.

Bluegrass Land Conservancy
Bluegrass Tomorrow
Fayette Alliance
Fayette County Farm Bureau
Fayette County Neighborhood Council
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders 
LFUCG Rural Land Management Board

BGT Magazine – History of RLMP and PDR – Nov 22

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