Theme E of the Comprehensive Plan: Maintaining a Balance between Planning for Urban Uses and Safeguarding Rural Land
Lexington is defined by the balance between our vibrant city and our productive Bluegrass farmland. Due to a history of balanced and careful planning, our city and our agricultural industries have thrived. Our Urban Services Boundary has not only preserved our signature landscape, it has also enabled us to minimize many of the negative consequences of sprawl and ensured we grow in relatively fiscally responsible ways. We must continue to grow smart and maintain the delicate balance that defines our community.
As Phase 2 of the 2018 update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan continues, the Planning Staff presented their recommendations to the Planning Commission on “Theme E: Maintaining a Balance between Planning for Urban Uses and Safeguarding Rural Land” on July 19th. This section of the Comp Plan addresses policies to ensure we continue to grow in smart and fiscally responsible ways.
The Staff’s recommendations are categorized into three overarching pillars:
- Pillar 1—Accountability. The most significant recommendation in this section of the Plan is to create a new process to consider whether or not to expand the Urban Services Boundary. While we support the idea of creating a new process, the devil is in the details. The creation of this new process will require our leaders and citizens to come together and put the best interests and future of our community first. Without that focus and leadership, the process could devolve into just more of the same argument over expansion.Our decisions going forward should be based on objective facts and data. Fayette Alliance stands ready to assist with creation of this new process, and we have issued a set of recommendations for consideration.
Other recommendations in the Accountability section include holding the government accountable for implementing the Plan as adopted and creating increased opportunity for public involvement and input through creation of a citizen advisory panel and increased outreach. The Plan also recommends increased access to information through the city’s website.
- Pillar 2—Stewardship. Each generation of Lexingtonians is tasked with protecting the land and being good stewards of our environmental, historical, and cultural assets. The primary way to be good stewards is to promote sustainable development. Sustainable development means providing for the needs of current citizens without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Primary policy recommendations in this section include:
- Promote sustainable development through zone change criteria designed to thoughtfully utilize existing resources.
- Implement policy recommendations related to preservation and protection of Lexington’s rural settlements and other historic and cultural assets.
- Increase regional planning and cooperation related to tourism, economic development, transportation, housing, and other land use and long-range planning issues.
- Explore new compatible agritourism and ecotourism opportunities to enhance Lexington’s economy and provide additional income-generating options for local farmers.
- Pillar 3—Growth. Lexington is a growing and increasingly vibrant city. The question is not “if” we grow, but “how” we grow. Infill and redevelopment are our primary growth strategies because they are smart and fiscally responsible. However, development or redevelopment should be done in an intentional way that enhances our community. The primary recommendations in this section are:
- Update and modernize the Zoning Ordinance and other regulations and processes.
- Actively promote adaptive reuse and redevelopment opportunities of specific structures and/or underutilized areas and corridors.
- Support redevelopment opportunities related to the changing nature of retail and the desire of people to live near employment, entertainment, and necessities.
- Preserve historical and culturally significant assets.
- Provide adaptability to harness the benefits of changes in transportation, like autonomous/smart vehicles.
- Create a diversity of housing types and walkable, mixed-use developments throughout the city.
A draft of all the recommendations will be available for public review and comment in the Fall. Fayette Alliance will not issue an official position statement until the full draft is available.
The next Comp Plan Work Session is scheduled for Thursday, August 30th at 1:30 in the Phoenix Building (101 E. Vine). The Staff will present their recommendations on how best to implement the Comp Plan.