"Growth is Good" stickers are plastered on the bumpers and windows of several Lexington vehicles, but it's obvious that not everyone shares this philosophy. This was very evident at last week's public hearing to discuss the possibility of developing a loop that would, for now, connect Nicholasville to I-75.
Many of those who spoke at the meeting voiced their opposition to the plan, saying that it would destroy the rural Bluegrass way of life. The concern is that the development would not end with the road. Instead, opponents are worried that the road will encourage the development of typical suburbia (strip malls, fast food restaurants and the like).
No Kids Allowed
Can the resistance to urban growth go too far, though? That's certainly a question many are asking after seeing that residents of Briar Hill are fighting the construction of a shelter for neglected and abused children.
The Mary G. Copeland Home has plans to build a new center to house 36 children ages 10 and under. The center would be built on state land, thereby bypassing local zoning laws. So why would residents reject such a good cause? Actually, they don't, but they express some of the same concerns voiced by the road opponents. They fear that the center will set a precedent for further commercial or urban development, and that is the reason behind their opposition.
The Urban County Planning Commission will look into the issue this month and offer their opinion on the development plans. However, because the land is owned by the state, it may be exempt from any local regulations or decisions made by the Commission.
Do the Time for Your Crime
The Courier-Journal's recent Bluegrass State Poll, which surveyed a whopping 802 Kentuckians, produced some interesting insight into the way most residents view crime and punishment. Not surprisingly, the vast majority favor making those criminals who commit violent crimes serve out the greater part of their sentences. Specifically, 86 percent favor making the minimum time served before parole eligibility 85 percent of a sentence, a 35 percent increase over today's minimum.
Perhaps more unexpectedly, however, a large majority of the state's residents also favor alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders. In order to reduce the jail-overcrowding problem, 70 percent agree that home incarceration and treatment programs are a viable means of "punishing" those found guilty of non-violent crimes.
It's Only Money
By the time you read this, the General Assembly's 60-day session will likely have come to a close. But before all was said and done, two issues concerning where taxpayer's dollars go came under discussion.
The first involved a pay raise for lawmakers. As part of the state's budget, Kentucky lawmakers would receive a 48 percent increase in pay. It's hard to determine which aspect of this that we should be more jealous of-a one-time raise percentage that most of us will be lucky to see over our entire career OR the fact that these people get to vote for their own raises.
The other is a provision to the state's budget that would cover the expenses incurred by the State Police for the concealed weapon program.
Due to grossly overestimating the number of people who would apply for the gun permits, the program found itself with a $658,600 deficit in its first year. To make up for this, Kentucky State Police will receive over $1 million to cover administration and licensing costs.
Rep. Bob Damron, who is responsible for the legislation that created the program, feels that the money appropriated for this really isn't that big of a chunk out of the overall state budget. There's some good reasoning. Forget about health care and education; it's much better to know that our money's going to such a worthwhile and beneficent cause. Shoving a gun into our trousers is a right, not a privilege.
You Don't Want to Know
Environmentalists in the area finally have something to be happy about. Nicholasville, with its new sewage treatment plant, has plans to become the first town in the state to sell its processed waste. This pasteurized sludge, which meets the requirements set forth by the Clean Water Act, can be put to use on farms, golf courses, parks, and nurseries. So now Nicholasville residents, at least those who are regular, can feel that they're doing their part for the environment each and everyday; with every flush comes the opportunity to recycle. No word on how lucrative the sludge business might be, but shouldn't there be some type of profit-sharing for the entire community?