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Sandy Shafer- 2018 Candidate Questionnaire

Running for: Urban County Council- District 11

Short Bio:

I am Sandy Shafer, 11th District candidate for Councilmember. I am a lifelong Lexingtonian who has always been interested in the welfare of my community. I am a graduate of Clays Mill, Jessie Clark, Lafayette High School and attended UK. I still participate in the UK Alumni Band. I am married to Paul Shafer, retired from UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research. We have 4 grown children and 10 grandchildren. I have lived in the same precinct since 1978. I was the General Coordinator for 4 community-wide playground builds. I have assisted in starting several neighborhood associations including where I live in Picadome. I served as councilmember from 1994 through 2006 during which time I was proactive in all sorts of positive county-wide projects including the RLMP, PDR Program, the smoking ban, stormwater and sanitary sewer upgrades. Your support immediately puts many years of experience and workable ideas into the 11th District. <www.electsandy.com>

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?

Fayette County has a finite land resource and we must be very careful in how we use it. I do support Infill and Redevelopment as one of the growth strategies when used with other planning techniques. That would include the urban services boundary concept, the rural land management plan, mixed-use development and adaptive re-uses. I would consider expansion only after a complete review of areas that can be used for infill or redeveloped or re-use.

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?

The LFUCG could establish a “Neighborhood Division” inside government with a board made up of community-wide and neighborhood leaders that could bring oversight to the overall strategy for types of development, infill, and businesses coupled with appropriate housing stock. Neighborhoods could benefit from having their own small area plans, design guidelines and better oversight in order to protect the character and diversity within their individual areas on a proactive basis. Neighborhoods should be on the front end of all discussions and not too far into the process. Neighborhoods that are in decline seem to have the least protection and expertise available to them and could use this division to help in distressed areas. All development should be neighborhood friendly and preserve the character of the existing neighborhood. Compromise should be a key with the ultimate goal being the best use for the area. Everyone lives in a neighborhood.

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

Affordable housing is an extremely complex issue based on a number of factors and should not be aimed solely at lower-income households. It should include senior citizens, handicapped and first-time owners. I would like to see the addition of “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADUs) carefully considered and added to planning and zoning. There has been a lot of chatter about “granny flats” and I believe that raising density and mixed-use in some specific areas and some specific zones inside the USB should be considered. This additional housing stock could be small and affordable and would be available to services already in place like bus routes, public services, parks, churches, groceries, schools and universities.

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?

Housing for older adults needs to be considered county-wide. This could include the additional zoning for ADUs, HUD-sponsored low income housing, senior apartments, mixed-use, and senior-living communities with nearby nursing home facilities. All are important in planning for the elderly to be near physicians, libraries, stores, groceries and social services. This could provide the opportunity to age in place, near family (or care givers) while being in the area where they want to live or have always lived. Multi-use paths could be added to allow for connectivity, exercise and socializing. This could also meet the needs for those retirees living on a fixed income.

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. 

I was on the Council when the RLMPlan and the PDR Program were adopted. I supported funding in the annual budget then and I support it now. We must preserve the funding that is in place for the PDR program in order to protect our signature industries. I believe a percentage of hotel/tourism tax dollars should provide part of the funding to support the program and it is allowable for that purpose. The rural part of Fayette County provides jobs and the base for much of our tourism industries. Fayette County Agriculture is an annual $2.3 Billion Industry that supports one in twelve jobs in Lexington. In order to preserve our signature industry we must allow for land to remain farm land for future farming. Additional ideas: 1. We should consider reviewing the zoning ordinances to consider the effects of non-agricultural uses that have a negative impact on farmland. 2. Educate: Citizens in Fayette County, while surrounded by farm land, are not aware of or are not connected to farm life in any way. Schools and our general citizenry need to visit farms to see the various kinds of animals raised here, crops being harvested, and benefits of their surroundings besides just being “pretty” countryside.

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

Lexington is unique in that it grew and developed around a 1770s settlement. What were local county roads are now highly traveled due to housing and development. We do not want to lose that historic quality or beauty of our roads throughout the city or county. I would suggest a “ride-share” program, better alternate public transportation options that include multi-use paths, expanded bus service, and staggered start and end times for employees of the major employers. “Green infrastructure” should be considered on EVERY new street improvement that would include 4-ft sidewalks/multi-use paths along with bike lanes to ease congestion of motorized traffic. We would need to work with other stake holders; the State, Lextran and UK to be working in the same direction.

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? 

I could support such a process when it is better defined and long-term county-wide effects thought through. There are numerous cost considerations to be made for storm and sanitary sewers, schools, parks, roads, public safety, public transportation, farmland preservation, environmental and neighborhood protection, downtown viability etc. before I could support an expansion process. This process should FIRST evaluate all other planning strategies and means for implementation of those (including those discussed above) as our first consideration before an expansion process for either is proposed. I am not against expansion of the USB but Fayette County needs to be “caught up” before considering an expansion process and long-term financial implications for either the USB or the RAC expansion.

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

1. The biggest challenge in the 11th District is to “know your neighbor” and to know what each neighborhood needs (and should have) in order to be viable and sustainable. Building/starting neighborhood associations would be a good next step. More organized neighborhoods need to be formed and interaction between them to forge relationships around the district could be powerful. There needs to be more opportunities and activities to both work and live together.
2. Plus, due to the large number of apartments, rental units and businesses, along with the diverse ethnic groups, property’s are not maintained and are in decline. There is no incentive for management groups to meet code for the properties or improve and upgrade to current standards. Starting a Landlords group, to work together on improving apartments and rental units could help with living and property conditions. These interactions alone could bring great change. District 11 could and should be a showcase to the rest of Lexington and Fayette County.
3. Bus routes need to reach all parts of Lexington from the Alexandria Drive area.
4. The District could benefit by having a Community Center of its own.

Read Primary Questionnaire