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The Next Steps for Fayette Alliance

Litigation against the Urban County Council on the Goals & Objectives is underway. The legality of their decision to mandate an expansion of 2,700-5,000 acres in Lexington-Fayette County will now be decided by the judicial system. 

As for us at Fayette Alliance, our work doesn’t stop in the courtroom.  It carries over into City Hall, into the community through our educational programming, and into new research initiatives. While litigation runs its course, our team will be focused on smart growth advocacy, education, and research — including producing important data and identifying proactive solutions to the growth challenges affecting Lexington-Fayette County. 

  • Important: As we advocate throughout the Goals & Objectives process, the most pressing issue at hand is establishing a data-driven process to guide future growth decisions. That process should still play the most important role in continuing conversations about growth – and should come before any areas are identified for expansion. 

A Legacy Process

Our team, alongside key community members, is working to make recommendations to inform the Urban Growth Management Plan, which will guide growth decisions for years to come.

As a result of the policy mandates and short timeline directed by the 2045 Goals & Objectives, the Planning Staff and the Planning Commission have begun their work to establish where and how this future growth might occur. 

  • Deadline: A plan to expand the USB by 2,700-5,000 acres must be approved by December 1, 2024.

We believe critical information is still missing that is necessary to inform this work, and that there are important community questions that have yet to be answered. We are committed to identifying them and answering them through advocacy, education, and research. 

  • What sectors and community members will be impacted by new growth in the Rural Service Area and how can we ensure their voices are heard? 
  • At what rate are we currently developing land inside the USB? How many building permits are being pulled each year and of what types? 
  • What is the demand for new housing in Lexington-Fayette County and at what range of price points?
  • What types of housing, and how much of each, will meet our needs for the next 20 years? How much can and should we accommodate inside the USB? 
  • How are our infill and redevelopment efforts progressing and what new strategies can we implement — where and how? 
  • How can our community grow while protecting our productive agricultural industry and our nationally significant soils from the negative impacts of development? 
  • How much will infrastructure outside the USB cost our community and how will we pay for it? How do we ensure new development is sustainable for our future? 

Research Efforts

As the community continues its growth discussions, we’ve outlined below what we’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months. We are committed to working on data-driven and research-based solutions, in addition to asking legal questions for future decision-making. 

  1. We will work to inform the efforts of the Urban Growth Management Plan Advisory Committee, advocating for recommendations based on input from both the urban and rural stakeholders which will be most impacted by the expansion of the USB. 
  2. We will work to provide feedback on and complete the foundational studies necessary to inform any growth decisions. Key information that we still need includes:
    • Updated Sewer Feasibility Study — a study of the feasibility of sewer infrastructure in the rural service area and the cost to the community of building it. This study is underway by LFUCG and Stantec, and a final report is expected at the end of August.  
    • Annual Growth Report — annual data on land absorption rates, building permits generated, number and location of housing units sold, and more. Knowing our development trends year over year is key to informing future growth needs. In addition, an analysis of infill/redevelopment successes and new strategies, as well as priority areas for those efforts, should be incorporated into this ongoing work. 
    • Preservation Map of Rural Areas — recommendations for key agricultural and rural resources to protect from future development, considerations and criteria for future development, buffering requirements between rural and urban uses, and more.  
    • Market Study — identification of Lexington-Fayette County’s development needs through a 20-year market analysis for major land use categories to understand how much land could accommodate growth, where, and what types are necessary and feasible in our community.  In addition, analysis of and recommendations for county-wide affordable housing strategies at a variety of price points. 
  3. We will advocate for opportunities for significant community input and numerous opportunities for public comment to ensure community members’ voices are heard and feedback is incorporated into any future growth plans, continuously and throughout the process.
  4. We will analyze our successful infill and redevelopment efforts, identifying new areas that could best accommodate infill and redevelopment while recommending innovative policy changes, strategies, and incentives inside the existing USB.
  5. We will evaluate and identify future growth policy criteria and potential future growth areas that may meet that criteria based on the foundational study information. 

We will analyze and recommend additional elements of responsible and sustainable future expansion area planning when it is warranted by data and process, which may include: a PlaceBuilder map, community facilities plan, natural resources plan, parks/open spaces plan, transportation plan, infrastructure plan, and a plan for cost-sharing for infrastructure between public/private sectors.

Next Steps

As litigation makes its way through the courtroom, we believe it is essential to continue researching and advocating for proactive solutions to our community’s growth challenges. Through hard work and community input, we believe we can build a better Lexington. No one said this was going to be easy, but we believe the future of Lexington-Fayette County is worth fighting for.