WHAT LEXINGTON NEEDS, by Don Pratt
photo by M. Watt
April 1994 Ace
Lexington needs development policies that work in the public interest. The powers who control expansion, frequently horse farmers and developers, have made a mockery of the democratic process. The current situation points this out.
Alex Boone and Marty Howard are appointees to the Planning Commission, which is in charge of approving zone changes and developing the Goals and Objectives, Land Use Plan, Transportation Plan, and Public Facilities Plan (Collectively Called the Comprehensive Plane) for Fayette County. Boone’s father, Hillary Boone, is asking that 1,030 acres off Walnut Hill Road be included in the Urban Service Area, thus raising its value from $6-10,000 to $30-40,000 per acre. Marty Howard is the wife of property developer James Howard.
The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, which recommends changes tot he Plan, such as whether more land should be added, contains developers Rob Bolton, Jo Gawthrop, Joe Hacker, and Frank Mattone. Two representatives of Bank One and Mill Ridge Farm, which are asking for a total of 454 acres to be included in the Urban Service area, also sit on the Committee, as well as representatives of realtors. Pam Miller, who was elected with a $100,000 campaign war chest and recommended that the Urban Service Area be expanded, is the Chair of the Committee, and appointed all these people.
I can probably count on one hand the number of times the Urban County Council has voted against development interest in zone change, appeals, out of well over a hundred opportunities in the last few years.
Former mayors Foster Pettit and Jim Amato, Representative Bill Lear, and politically powerful attorneys Foster Ockerman and Terry McBrayer typically make money representing the interest of developers. Their winnings frequently result in destructive changes in the county landscape.
While authorities claim there is balance on urban planning boards, members possessing such conflicts of interest have held the power as long as planning and zoning laws have been on the books in Fayette County. Among other things, members’ votes have left Lexington with problem areas such as Nicholasville Road, Richmond Road, and a dying downtown. Until community leaders start serving the public interest, cancerous “development” will continue to eat away at the heart of the Bluegrass.
Don Pratt is an activist and foster father; man of many words.