LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Lexington is no stranger to growth and when it comes to housing in the future, the Lexington Division of Planning says the answer could be in your backyard.
In the next 20 years, the city is expected to surpass the 400,000 population mark, but city leaders hope an ordinance proposal that would allow "accessory dwelling units" is the answer they say could solve the future housing demand.
Their proposal also known as "granny flats," would allow residents to have a second dwelling on a single-family residential lot. Ultimately, property owners could build onto a home or an entirely new structure for someone to live in as long as it meets building permits within the ordinance.
On Tuesday, the Lexington Division of Planning held a public input session where they listened to questions and tried to calm concerns about the proposal.
Officials chose to answer questions during the forum where neighbors could speak to experts on the proposal at several different booths that focused on different educational topics in reference to the ADUs. Neighbors say that was not enough and wanted a representative to answer their questions one-by-one in hopes of the entire group listening to the answers could hear their response.
With more than 100 residents in attendance, dozens say they have concerns about the idea. Overpopulation in Lexington residential areas was at the top of the list.
Many referenced fears that landlords around the University of Kentucky would take advantage of the ordinance—meaning more people crammed into developments, less parking, and fears of potentially unsafe living conditions.
While renting the ADUs, officials say that will come with more restrictions for landlords. However, the Division of Planning say their motives are geared around long term housing for the cities senior citizen community but residents say that idea will be taken advantage of.
“The idea is very intriguing, but the devil is in the details,” Wanda Delaplane, one woman living in the proposal area, told WKYT’s Nick Oliver.
Delaplane says she’s not totally against the idea like many are – in fact, she too is looking for easier housing options as she ages but she says there are too many loopholes in the process including the future “look” of some Lexington developed neighborhoods.
“It has the potential for having a house in every backyard which would tremendously impact the personality and character of the community.”
Others worry with potentially doubling a neighborhood's population of people, vehicles will cover the streets. The ordinance does not require the property owner to create parking spots – meaning if the law allows the driver to continue to park their vehicle on the same street other homeowners are forced to.
Others in attendance say they are ready to jump into the idea for financial gain.
Chris Huesteis has lived in his home for 20 years and too is aging. He says as retirement nears an ADU would be the perfect opportunity to make some extra cash while helping with Lexington’s growing pains.
“I’d like to rent my house out to have a little income because that is always necessary," said Huesteis.
When asked if sections of the cities residential areas can support more people and more structures, officials say it can. They say they have researched the sewage systems with the help of experts they say the city’s sewage system can support the growth and is not expected to create any known problems.
The proposal will see the public again before a vote by the Urban County Council. Another public hearing will be held with the planning commission on September 26.