Urban County Council holds public hearing regarding Lexington’s urban service boundary

The City of Lexington is looking to expand, but many organizations are not for it.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 9:54 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The City of Lexington is looking to expand, but many organizations are not for it.

The Urban County Council held a public hearing on Tuesday regarding expanding the urban service boundary by 5,000 acres.

Several people spoke for and against the proposal.

“I”m 85, and I won’t be here much longer. It shouldn’t mean this much to me, but it will mean a lot to my children and my grandchildren, and yours as well,” said Lexington resident Jim Host. “When you don’t grow, you die.”

Jim Host passionately pleaded for Lexington Urban County Councilmembers to consider a call from several community organizations for an additional 5,000 acres to be included in the Urban Service Boundary.

“We are at a tipping point. We have not been providing enough land for housing and jobs. And we are now seeing a negative impact of those decisions,” said Commence Lexington CEO Bob Quick.

Quick says the proposal adds developable land to the city in areas along the I-75 corridor near Richmond and Winchester Roads, as well as the area north of Athens Boonesboro Road and south of Todds Road. He says that land includes willing sellers and developers, is near critical infrastructure and has no impact on horse farms.

Those with the nonprofit Fayette Alliance say they don’t believe the council can ensure that through this proposal.

“Research is clear that more land doesn’t create affordable housing without guardrails and incentives. Sprawling development increases the cost of transportation for those who can least afford it. Puts more cars on the roads. Raises the cost of community service for all of us. Removes investment from our existing community, who needs it most. And doesn’t actually solve our most pressing problem,” said Brittany Roethemeir with Fayette Alliance.

Those against the expansion, like Brittany Roethemeir and farm manager Lee Smith, say they believe there is undeveloped land within the service boundary already. And while they support expansion, they say they don’t want it in the areas proposed.

“I believe in infill and redevelopment within our urban service boundary should be reexplored before we take irreplaceable farmland away,” said Smith. “No farms, no food.”

Those for the expansion are advocating that the council add this proposal to the 2045 comprehensive plan goals and objectives.

Tuesday night’s meeting was only for public comment.