Moratorium Revisited Campus Construction

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Moratorium Revisited

On Thursday night, September 3, a proposed moratorium designed to curb vinyl-box additions in campus-adjacent neighborhoods, was removed from the docket at the LFUCG Council Session.

[This issue has been covered by Ace in every print edition in September, and regularly via http://www.aceweekly.com and live at http://www.twitter.com/AceWeekly. The links for the August 2002 Ace coverstory on this issue have also been reprinted.]

Council Member Diane Lawless introduced the measure on September 3, saying, “Last Tuesday night, while we were here, a yard was blacktopped and a curb-cut put in on Elizabeth Street, perfectly legally.” 

Students marched on City Hall on September 22 to protest the Student Housing Task Force Report.

Today, October 1st, homeowners and neighborhood associations adjacent to campus are asking neighbors to continue to apply pressure to LFUCG and re-consider a Moratorium.

On October 5, the Planning Committee will meet at 1 pm and hear continued public comment that didn’t fit into the schedule on September 22.

October 6 is the regularly scheduled LFUCG work-session.
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Below is an excerpt of the Letter/Email currently circulated in campus-adjacent neighborhoods.

To: Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues and Fellow Lexington Residents
Subject: Prompt Action Requested

We are an informal group of neighbors who have banded together to address an issue that is of great concern to us—and we trust will be of interest and importance to you.

We write this letter to ask for your support in implementing a temporary moratorium on additions to single family homes which are greater than 25% of the existing home’s square footage.

You might know of the situation as it’s been in the news lately, has been featured in at least five Herald Leader editorials since 2000 and has become an issue of concern to Mayor Jim Newberry and Lexington’s Council.

BACKGROUND

We live in houses in neighborhoods near UK; some of us own our homes, others rent. Our experience has been that houses which are in our immediate areas have been enlarged to accommodate more bedrooms and bathrooms.

These are single-family homes in R1C-zoned neighborhoods, but the addition of 4, 5 and 6 bedrooms serves only to increase the rental potential of the structures, not increase the quality of life for a family living there.

We are learning that city ordinances do not effectively protect us from additions such as those described. We have arrived at the conclusion that we must bring this to the city’s attention because our residential neighborhoods are being destroyed.

We are also learning that LFUCG’s Department of Building Inspection (responsible for approving and administering building additions) interprets the existing ordinances and Infill and Redevelopment Plan regulations quite loosely. To our knowledge, petitions to enlarge houses by adding bedrooms have always been approved. However, we do not know of an owner-occupied home where these types of additions were sought.

The landlords who own these houses and add on bedrooms make considerable monetary gains, according to one landlord in a personal conversation, but their gain comes with an irreparable cost to us who live in and have invested in our homes in the neighborhood.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS THAT HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCED IN THESE NEIGHBORHOODS?

A loss of quality of life, neighborhood history and community, neighborhood design and aesthetics.
Creation of a disincentive for families to stay in the area or move into the area on a permanent basis.
Neighborhoods being informally rezoned by allowing increased density without following a legitimate re-zoning process.
A decline in property values for single family residences in the affected areas.
Crime, vandalism and destruction of individual and community property.
Noise from people and music at parties, noise from people leaving parties, noise from more people living in single family dwellings than they were designed for.
Greater burdens on infrastructure than what it was designed for including:
- Loss of pervious areas when back yards are paved to become parking lots;
- Increased loads on storm sewer system because of loss of pervious areas;
- Increased loads on sanitary sewer system because of more inhabitants;
- Increased burden on city services to accommodate greater amounts of trash;
- Increased burden on city services in the form of calls from residents about trash, noise, etc.;
- Increased parking on limited street space; and
- Spillover of parked cars into front, rear and side yards.

WHAT ARE WE ASKING OF THE CITY?

We are asking the city to impose a temporary moratorium to immediately stop the building of additions like those described above. The moratorium will not affect those areas with deed restrictions, H1 or ND-1 overlays, additions that comprise approximately 25% or less of the original square footage of the original structure, or additions to owner-occupied homes.

In order to take effect, Lexington’s City council must enact a temporary moratorium by a majority vote of its members. A moratorium was removed from the LFUCG docket on 9/6/09. We understand from Diane Lawless, the 3rd District Council Member with whom we are closely working, that she and other council members in favor of the moratorium are working on another version address the issue as we write this. While we do not know the exact date that the revised moratorium may be presented to the council for consideration, we understand the earliest date that it might come before council is October 6, 2009.

During the moratorium, the next step will be for the city to engage the University, neighbors, and landlords in a permanent solution.

WHAT ARE WE ASKING?

The urgency for adopting a moratorium and strengthening city ordinances is not solely to benefit the areas in which we live, but for the city as a whole. Besides normal population influx, UK’s goal is to increase enrollment by 6000-8000 students in the next 10 years. The need for housing will be great in many areas of the city, so responsible planning needs to start now.
In the meantime, for the city to be responsive to our request to impose a temporary moratorium, we need the support of Council Members from all of the districts in the city. And for that to happen, they need to know what their constituents think.
Please seriously consider any or all of the following:
Contacting the Mayor (mayor@lfucg.com)
Contacting your Council Member
(go to http://www.lexingtonky.gov/index.aspx?page=1475 to find out your Council Member if you don’t know who it is)
Contacting At-Large Council Members Linda Gorton, Chuck Ellinger, and Vice Mayor Jim Gray.

Let them know that you object to what is happening in the 3rd District on principle and for what it portends for Lexington as a whole as UK looks to implement its goal of increasing enrollment. Feel free to use the points above, or forward this letter in its entirety as a show of your support of a temporary moratorium and better zoning ordinances. We also encourage you to share this e-mail with people you know who may be interested in this issue.

We hope to move this action forward within a very short time, so timely input to the Council is vital. The earliest date that this may be reviewed by the entire Council is October 6, 2009. Letters or emails in support of the moratorium need to be sent before this date.

Elizabeth Street Neighborhood Association Acting President & Members
Molly Davis
Harck and Kathy Pickett
Joanne Filkins
Iris Flythe
Seven Parks Neighborhood Association President & Members
Anne Marie Stamatiadis
Kathy Franklin
North Elizabeth Street Neighborhood Association President & Members
Robert Kelly
Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association President
Kate Savage



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