Council advances boundary expansion in marathon work session

LEXINGTON, KY – In a decisive move on Tuesday, the Lexington council voted in favor of moving forward a plan to expand the city’s growth boundary, while simultaneously adding language to address the pressing need for affordable housing within the proposed expansion area. This pivotal decision came following a plea from Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, urging the council to consider incorporating a directive to the Urban County Planning Commission. The directive, if implemented, would allocate a portion of the new expansion area specifically for affordable housing initiatives.

The vote came at the tail end of a three-and-a-half-hour work session, a portion of which is detailed below.

June 12 Council Work Session: Urban Service Boundary, Affordable Housing
Video of the relevant portions of the work session

Public Comment

Bob Quick Advocates for Expansion and Housing Affordability

Bob Quick (LexTV)

The meeting opened with a public comment from Bob Quick, the President and CEO of Commerce Lexington, an organization representing over 1,900 members and investors who collectively employ over 90,000 people in Fayette County. He spoke in favor of the expansion.

Quick expressed his gratitude to the council for their dedication in working on the comprehensive plan, acknowledging that Commerce Lexington had been actively involved in the process for over a year. He commended the inclusivity and thoughtfulness with which the council members had approached crucial decisions. In particular, he was appreciative of the council making job creation and housing affordability a priority in the plan.

Addressing the issue of Lexington’s growth and development, Quick emphasized that the community is at a tipping point. He pointed out that the workforce is in dire need of housing and that employers are facing a shortage of land for expansion. He raised concerns about the challenges faced by new businesses and young professionals looking to establish themselves in Lexington due to these constraints.

Quick also showed his support for the inclusion of a compromise expansion proposal in the comprehensive plan, which he believes addresses both short-term and long-term needs for the city’s growth.

Highlighting the significance of the amendments made to the comprehensive plan, he considered them a considerable stride forward in tackling the challenges of housing, land availability, and job creation. In closing, Quick thanked the council for their leadership and courage in making decisions that he believes are in the community’s best interest. He also expressed Commerce Lexington’s eagerness to continue collaborating with the council in the future.

Jim Shropshire Advocates for Data-Driven Decision Making and Concerns for Agriculture

Jim Shropshire (LexTV)

Jim Shropshire, a local cattle farmer, was the next to speak during the public comment session. Along with his wife Jane, he operates a 300-acre cattle farm at 3079 Royster Road, situated in Council District 12. He identified himself as a cattle farmer, not an orator, but felt compelled to speak on the issue of expansion.

Shropshire indicated that his farm is located in the area of the I-64/I-75 split, making it directly impacted by any potential expansion plans, essentially placing his farm at “ground zero”. He urged the council not to vote for expanding the urban service boundary at this time. Instead, he advocated for a more methodical approach by waiting for studies that would furnish facts and data to guide future expansion decisions.

He questioned the urgency and basis of the expansion, asking “Is expansion warranted? Now? Where’s the data and if so, where should this expansion occur? What will the cost of this expansion be? And who will pay for this expansion?” Shropshire emphasized the need for a data-driven and orderly process, reflecting on his participation in the last expansion during the 1990s which he described as chaotic and lacking in data-driven decision-making. He recounted how the previous expansion created divisions in the community by establishing winners and losers, a situation he implored the council to avoid this time around.

Additionally, Shropshire expressed concerns regarding affordable housing. He pointed out that little affordable housing was constructed following the last expansion, particularly within the expansion area. He was skeptical that affordable housing would be realized with the current expansion unless it was mandated. Moreover, he questioned what would happen if expansion was approved first and then attempts were made to mandate affordable housing.

Towards the conclusion of his statement, Shropshire shifted his focus to the agriculture community. He inquired about what requirements and protections would be implemented to safeguard farms like his in the event of expansion. He stated that he and his wife are committed to maintaining their farm for agricultural use and questioned what commitment the community would provide in return.

Shropshire thanked the council members for their time and implored them to consider a more methodical, data-driven approach to the expansion, with due consideration for agricultural interests and affordable housing.

Brittany Roethemeier Emphasizes Data-Driven Decision Making and Questions Expansion Impact

Brittany Roethemeier (LexTV)

Brittany Roethemeier, the Executive Director of Fayette Alliance, addressed the council with concern regarding the proposed expansion of the urban service boundary and its impact on affordable housing.

Roethemeier started her comment by acknowledging that the council members have heard from Fayette Alliance several times. She mentioned that it came to Fayette Alliance’s attention that council members had received letters from lawyers representing developers and home builders questioning the legality of expanding the urban service boundary. Fayette Alliance disagreed with the legal basis of those opinions and sought legal counsel to comprehend the limits of the council’s authority regarding expansion.

She emphasized that Fayette Alliance’s intention is not to intimidate or threaten but to ask hard questions and demand answers based on facts and within the law. Roethemeier acknowledged that Lexington needs more affordable housing and that some community members and decision-makers believe that expanding the urban service boundary is the solution to lowering housing prices.

However, she strongly disagreed with this perspective. She cited the Sustainable Growth Task Force report initiated by the Mayor, which was adopted by the Council in 2021, which concluded that Lexington has enough land to meet market needs for the next 20 years. Additionally, she referred to Civic Lex and LFUCG’s public input report which expressed a strong desire among the public for continued infill and redevelopment opportunities to accommodate future growth.

Roethemeier also mentioned a study by the Bluegrass Realtors Association conducted by the University of Kentucky, which concluded that expansion would not lower housing prices in the long term. She expressed concern over the proposal to expand the urban service boundary up to 5,000 acres, which is significantly large, without any explanation or clear plan on how it will address the existing issues.

She criticized the lack of guarantees for the types of housing, jobs, and especially affordable housing that would be created through the expansion. She compared the current situation to the expansion in 1996, which also lacked guarantees and was not data-driven.

Roethemeier urged the council members to employ a data-driven process to evaluate when, where, why, and how expansion would take place. She emphasized the importance of discussing real solutions for affordable housing, preventing displacement, creating workforce housing and jobs, and fostering a Lexington that serves everyone.

In conclusion, she affirmed that Fayette Alliance will continue to advocate, educate, and research regardless of the outcome and expressed commitment to moving forward with their mission because they believe that Lexington deserves thoughtful and well-planned development.

Don Todd Stresses the Importance of Data-Driven Decision Making and Highlights the Importance of Horse Farms

Don Todd (LexTV)

Don Todd, a resident of the 12th District, expressed his concerns regarding the proposed expansion of the urban service area. Having served on three comprehensive plan update committees and as a former city council member, Todd stated that he has been involved in the process since 1978.

He pointed out that the debate on whether or not to expand the urban service area has been a longstanding issue, and he criticized the arbitrariness of the proposed 5,000-acre expansion. He argued that any decision regarding expansion should be based on data and research and suggested that an arbitrary figure such as 5,000 acres would not hold up in court.

Don Todd emphasized the significance of considering various points while reviewing the issue of expansion and regretted not having the time to discuss all the points he wanted to. However, he focused on the importance of horse farms in the community.

Todd acknowledged that the community and the council members have not been adequately educated on the importance of the horse industry and how it interrelates with the community. He recalled how they used to take council members to visit the farms, showing them the stallions, breeding operations, pastures, and mares, which demonstrated how the farms operate.

He pointed out that stallions are the most critical aspect of horse farms and the reason why they are located in the area. The area offers the best veterinarians, soil, farm handlers, feed managers, bloodstock agents, and other related services such as hospitals and emergency care centers which are vital to the horse industry.

However, Todd warned against the adverse effects of placing residential subdivisions next to horse farms. He stated that children and horses do not mix well and that introducing residential areas next to horse farms would necessitate the construction of high fences and could render certain pastures unusable for valuable animals.

Todd closed his comment by highlighting the importance of educating council members and the community on the importance of horse farms and regretted the inadequate effort put in so far to do so. His comment underscored the importance of understanding and preserving the unique industries and aspects of the community when considering urban expansion.


Council Member Denise Gray’s Motion for a Responsible Expansion Area Master Plan

CM Denise Gray offers an amendment emphasizing the council’s intent for affordable housing in the expansion area. (LexTV)

Council member Denise Gray proposed an amendment to Theme E, Goal 3, Objective C, focusing on the responsible development of the proposed expansion area. The amendment intends to strike a balance between preserving the integrity of agricultural and rural lands and addressing the clear need for additional acreage to meet Lexington’s housing and economic development requirements.

Council member Gray’s motion emphasizes the Urban County Council’s intention for the Expansion Area Master Plan to include provisions for the creation, construction, and/or funding of additional affordable housing units, as defined by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and middle-income housing.

The motion also calls for the Planning Commission to recommend mechanisms to create, construct, and/or fund affordable housing units and middle-income housing in correlation to the development provided for in the Expansion Area Master Plan.

Moreover, Council member Gray underscored the importance of prioritizing the completion of this Master Plan by the Division of Planning to ensure its timely adoption and implementation in addressing the critical needs identified.

Council member Ellinger seconded the motion, indicating support for the amendment aimed at ensuring responsible and balanced development in the proposed expansion area. This amendment reflects a comprehensive approach to development that takes into account housing affordability and diversity, infrastructure, community facilities, and the preservation of agricultural and rural lands.

Council Member Chuck Ellinger’s Inquiry to Planning Director Jim Duncan

Jim Duncan (LexTV)

Council member Chuck Ellinger, in an effort to gain clarity on affordable housing provisions in the proposed Expansion Area Master Plan, posed questions to the Planning Department Director, Jim Duncan. He sought to understand the history of similar provisions and how effective they had been in the past, as well as the nature of the new plan.

Council member Ellinger highlighted that during the last expansion in 1996, there was a specific incentive program created for affordable housing. However, it was voluntary and not mandatory, resulting in no developers utilizing the program. This incentive program allowed private developers to build additional market-rate housing to offset the cost of setting aside land for affordable housing.

He then inquired about the nature of the new plan, specifically asking if it will be similar to ‘inclusionary zoning’ and whether it will mandate affordable housing provisions.

Director Duncan responded by affirming that the previous options in the Expansion Area Master Plan in 1996 were voluntary, and confirmed that they were not utilized by any developers. Regarding the new plan, Duncan suggested that the amendment is more robust, as it clearly states the intention of the council to include affordable housing in the expansion area. He added that this would likely be the expectation when the master plan is returned or adopted by the Planning Commission.

Duncan also explained that the Planning Commission would be responsible for recommending mechanisms to the council, such as an inclusionary zoning ordinance or a funding mechanism, to ensure that affordable housing is included.

Council member Ellinger sought further clarification, asking if the expansion would automatically translate into new developments. Director Duncan clarified that just because an expansion is approved, it doesn’t mean that new developments will automatically follow. Developers would still need to go through zone changes and development plans, which will have to align with the goals and objectives set forth in the Master Plan.

This exchange underscores the importance of having clear guidelines and mandatory provisions to ensure that affordable housing becomes a reality within any proposed expansion. The council’s intention is to see that the new Expansion Area Master Plan adopts a more rigorous approach to affordable housing, compared to the voluntary provisions of the past.

Council Member James Brown’s Inquiry to Planning Director Jim Duncan

James Brown (LexTV)

Council Member James Brown, appreciative of the efforts to address affordable housing, raised concerns regarding the language of the amendment proposed by Council Member Denise Gray. He sought clarity on whether the language could be too restrictive and thereby hamper the flexibility of the Planning Commission in formulating the Expansion Area Master Plan. He acknowledged the necessity for affordable housing but wondered if the amendment’s language might inadvertently constrain the Planning Commission’s ability to develop a robust plan.

He asked Director Jim Duncan if the council, by including this language, was creating a situation where the affordable housing mechanism would have to return to the council for approval. Duncan clarified that the master plan would recommend solutions, possibly encompassing amendments to the zoning ordinance or suggesting funding mechanisms. These recommendations would not necessitate council approval, but the council would have the authority to decide if they wanted to turn those recommendations into policy.

Council Member Brown further inquired if there were any policies or mechanisms that the Planning Commission could incorporate in the Expansion Area Master Plan to encourage or mandate the construction of affordable housing. Director Duncan explained that there were tools that could help enable affordable housing, but not specifically require it. He mentioned that various tools could be integrated into zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations to provide more options for affordability. He cited examples such as adjusting density requirements, altering how small a lot can be while still being considered a single-family lot, and ensuring there are density minimums.

Moreover, Council Member Brown expressed concern that the amendment’s language might “push the inclusionary zoning button,” potentially provoking a response at the state level. He wanted to know if this was a valid concern based on Duncan’s experience. Duncan acknowledged that there had been a reaction in the past when inclusionary zoning was discussed, including attempts within the legislature to restrict cities from implementing such measures. However, he emphasized that this amendment would bring a list of recommendations to the council, leaving it to the council’s discretion to decide how to proceed. Duncan conveyed that, while the historical context is essential, things might have changed, and discussions could take a different path.

This interaction underscores the delicate balance needed in framing language and provisions for affordable housing, ensuring that there is enough flexibility for planning while maintaining a strong commitment to the objective. It also highlights the council members’ attentiveness to the potential consequences at different governmental levels and the importance of adaptability in policymaking.

Council Member Denise Gray’s Explanation for Her Amendment

Council Member Denise Gray took the floor to clarify her intentions behind proposing the amendment. She emphasized the importance of explicitly stating “affordable housing” in the amendment, arguing that it will prevent the repetition of past shortcomings in Lexington’s history regarding housing policies. By including explicit language concerning affordable housing, she believes it will ensure that the Planning Commission remains attentive to the objective of creating inclusive housing opportunities in Lexington.

Council Member Gray touched upon the significance of maintaining Lexington as a city that accommodates and is accessible to all its citizens. She expressed concern over the current state where many individuals, who have spent their lives in Lexington, find it increasingly difficult to reside in the city. This, she highlights, is due to the rising costs of living, which affect the middle class, police officers, firefighters, educators, and others who may not have high incomes.

She underlined the necessity for creating a sustainable environment for current residents and future generations, acknowledging that there are many struggling individuals who might not be able to voice their concerns in meetings and public forums. Council Member Gray made a passionate plea to her colleagues to support the amendment, which she views as a stand for those struggling with housing affordability. She expressed the hope that the explicit inclusion of affordable housing in the amendment would ensure that Lexington continues to be a city for all citizens, and protect the interests of those who may not be present to advocate for themselves.

Vice Mayor Dan Wu’s Stance on Affordable Housing

Vice Mayor Dan Wu addressed the council, articulating the common thread in the discussions surrounding the amendment, which is the consensus on the importance of affordable housing. He recognized that concerns were raised about the scarcity of affordable housing in expansion areas and the challenges associated with mandating percentages.

Vice Mayor Wu acknowledged the arguments that mandating percentages might not be legally defensible or practical, but he emphasized the significance of effort and action. He conveyed that without taking steps towards a goal, it is impossible to achieve it. While he values philosophical and aspirational language in goals and objectives, he believes that it’s crucial to establish more tangible and concrete frameworks to construct mechanisms for increasing affordable housing.

He appealed to the council by suggesting that if affordable housing is indeed a common ground for all involved, then it is imperative to progress in a way that supports the creation and implementation of affordable housing initiatives. Vice Mayor Wu’s comments highlighted the necessity for not just aspirational language but actionable frameworks that can lead to substantial change in housing affordability.

Council Member Preston Worley’s Emphasis on Planning and Affordability

Council member Preston Worley speaks at the June 14, 2023 council work session, as council member Chuck Ellinger looks on. (LexTV screenshot)

Council Member Preston Worley expressed his gratitude to Councilmember Gray for the additional language presented. He highlighted the importance of understanding the purpose of the expansion area master plan and emphasized that the plan is not just about expansion, but about how and where it should occur. He supported the idea of having the Planning Commission devise a plan that includes recommendations for policies that encourage desired types of development.

Worley applauded the council’s strong statement, particularly in Councilmember LeGris’ addition, in favor of planning for low and middle-income housing. He perceived the further specificity in the amendment as indicative of the council’s intent.

He expressed his astonishment over the recent discussions and debates where the term “affordable” has been weaponized. He mentioned that the word “affordable” had become a contentious point of debate, which he found absurd. Worley emphasized that it is not about guaranteeing affordability in every unit but making statements that demonstrate an intention to work towards affordability.

He cited data showing an 80% increase in housing costs over ten years and Lexington having the seventh-highest rate increase in the country. He noted the detrimental impacts of these increases, such as job losses and population decline.

Worley criticized those who are averse to policy-makers setting aspirational goals for affordable housing. He reiterated his support for the amendment as it clarifies the council’s objective, which is to encourage the Planning Commission to engage with stakeholders and residents and come back with policy recommendations.

Council Member Worley concluded by stressing that while the expansion may not guarantee the desired outcomes, it is crucial to make efforts, as doing nothing would yield nothing. He praised the initiative as a step in the right direction toward making housing more affordable in the county.

Councilmember James Brown’s Question for Jim Duncan

Councilmember James Brown thanked Mayor for the opportunity to speak and directed his question to Director Duncan. He sought clarification on how the language presented could combine the planning commission. Specifically, he wanted to know if there would be any recommendations that might hinder development or create zoning challenges due to the close proximity to agricultural operations.

Director Duncan responded by indicating that the development of the master plan would consider various factors such as infrastructure and the impact on rural resources. He mentioned that policies would also address the request for affordable housing solutions, and there would be additional mechanisms such as buffering to ensure that the rural resources they aim to protect have adequate protection.

Councilmember Brown clarified that his question was hypothetical but expressed his desire to make sure that if the land gets identified and zoned properly, it should be developed without any language that makes this challenging.

Consultation with Legal Department

Councilmember Brown then inquired about the legal perspective on the language used in the amendment. He asked Traci from the law department if they were comfortable with the language and whether they had any concerns.

Traci responded that they were comfortable with the language, as it allows for the expansion master plan process to continue, come back with recommendations from the Planning Commission, and address specific items that require action.

Vote on the Amendment

With no more council members wishing to speak to the amendment, the Mayor proceeded to take a vote. The amendment received overwhelming support with only one dissenting vote from Councilmember Fred Brown. With this, the motion to pass the amendment was successful.

The session continued with the Mayor acknowledging that they were still discussing the goals and objectives, and gave the floor to another council member, Councilmember Plomin.

Plomin’s Failed Amendment

Council Member Kathy Plomin, who was unable to attend a previous meeting due to health reasons, brought forward an amendment proposing a reduced acreage for the expansion.

Plomin argued that the initial decision to proceed with an urban service expansion was made without a sufficient plan in place. She highlighted that there was insufficient support to overturn the proposed expansion of 5,000 acres. To mitigate the impact, she suggested considering a reduced acreage.

Historical Context

Plomin pointed out that about 27 years ago, 2,700 acres were allocated for development, and half of that land still remains undeveloped. The absorption of such large tracts of land is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, according to her. By combining the undeveloped 2,700 acres with the proposed 5,000 acres, the city would be left with nearly 8,000 acres, a scale she considers to be unsustainable.

Proposed Amendment

The amendment proposed by Plomin was to identify 2,700 acres for inclusion within the urban service area, in contrast to the previously decided 5,000 acres. The proposal was seconded by Councilmember Sevigny.

During the discussion, some council members sought clarification on whether the amendment was suggesting a specific 2,700 acres or if it was up to that amount. This led to a sub-amendment by Vice Mayor Wu, proposing to alter the language to “up to 2,700 acres”. However, this sub-amendment did not gain sufficient support and ultimately failed.

Diverse Opinions

Councilmember Gray was interested in understanding the rationale behind reducing the number to 2,700 acres. Vice Mayor Wu explained that the initial 5,000 acres seemed arbitrary and that 2,700 acres represent a compromise position.

Councilmember Reynolds raised concerns regarding the vagueness of “up to 2,700 acres,” which could theoretically mean no expansion at all. Councilmember Warley was opposed to the amendment, stating that even 2,700 acres might not be enough and that the city should not be too specific. He argued that the city needs more land for housing and jobs, and restricting this to a smaller acreage would not be productive. He emphasized the importance of a larger number to give more flexibility and options to the Planning Commission.

Councilmember James Brown voiced similar concerns, arguing that specifying “up to 2,700 acres” did not provide the Planning Commission with enough land to consider addressing the identified issues.

Discussion on Next Amendment Regarding Acres for Expansion

Another amendment was proposed by Councilmember Plomin to limit the expansion area to 2700 acres. The Mayor opened the floor for discussion.

Councilmember Worley began the discussion by acknowledging the compromise nature of the amendment. He expressed concern that specifying a hard number, such as 2700 acres, might be restrictive and advocated for giving the Planning Commission a range to work with.

Another council member proposed an alternate motion to set the range between 2700 and 3000 acres, emphasizing the importance of providing the Planning Commission with a range while also tightening the limits. He believed that it would result in a better compromise for the significant legislation being discussed.

Councilmember Gray, however, reminded the council that previously ten members had voted for a range of 2700 to 5000 acres. He questioned the rationale behind reducing this range and advocated for consistency.

Councilmember Baxter opposed the amendment for a different reason, arguing that a 300-acre swing (2700 to 3000) was not enough leeway for the Planning Commission. She wanted to stick to the previously discussed 2700 to 5000-acre range.

Councilmember Fred Brown also opposed the amendment, referencing the previous discussion and compromise that was reached. He felt that this was an attempt to rehash previously decided matters and advocated for moving forward.

Vice Mayor Wu acknowledged the frustration and importance of the issue. He expressed the desire to be very deliberate in decision-making, considering the long-lasting effects. He mentioned he would be voting for the amendment and appreciated the efforts to build safeguards.

Councilmember Sheehan supported Councilmember Plomin’s amendment and commended her dedication to representing his district. She saw this amendment as a compromise point, acknowledging that the community had differing opinions on the matter. She expressed support for allowing limited expansion with a master plan.

Councilmember Plomin closed the discussion by restating her stance. She emphasized the importance of considering the community’s perception and being reasonable in the expansion. She urged her fellow council members to recognize the community’s concerns and come together for the greater good.

In the latter half of the work session, Councilmember Worley emphasized the importance of planning for the future. He stated that the city had not expanded the urban services boundary in 27 years and expressed concern about the lack of available land for development, which has dwindled from 11,000 acres to around 2,000-5,300 acres. He stressed that the city needed to plan ahead before it becomes choked for space and encouraged those with concerns to work with the Planning Commission.

Councilmember Sevigny explained that he had chosen a 10% range for the expansion based on mathematics and emphasized the importance of the ongoing planning process. He indicated that the planning commission would likely consider more than 3,000 acres and several different scenarios for expansion.

Councilmember Gray passionately spoke about the issue as a community matter rather than a political one. She was concerned with the affordability of housing in Lexington and the need for available land for residents to make Lexington their home. She highlighted the struggle of lower-income individuals who work multiple jobs to afford living in the city and stated that the focus should be on the future and making sure Lexington is inclusive for all, not just the wealthy or farm owners.

Councilmember James Brown expressed his concern about being too restrictive on the Planning Commission and believed that giving them a range to work with would be more beneficial.

Councilmember Reynolds addressed her struggle with making a decision on the urban service boundary. She noted that she was torn between maintaining the boundary to protect farmland and accommodating the housing needs of the community. She highlighted the issue of residents opposing development within the existing boundary and the challenges that creates for council members who have to balance the need for development and representing the wishes of their constituents.

The council then took a vote on Councilmember Sevigny’s motion which failed, and moved on to Councilmember Plemons’ amendment which also failed. Councilmember Reynolds mentioned that none of the decisions would make everyone happy and that a compromise was necessary. She spoke about the importance of having a plan before proceeding with expanding the urban service boundary.

Councilmember Baxter and Councilmember Lynch played a prominent role in highlighting the importance of affordable housing and the steps needed for sustainable community growth.

Site Visits and Collaboration with Developers

One of the council members noted that they had visited various farms and checked boundaries where developers expressed interest in construction. The council member emphasized the importance of collaborating with developers to ensure that more affordable housing units are constructed. The council member also mentioned that they have observed best practices in different communities and are keen on adopting similar strategies for their community.

Trust in Planning Staff and Commission

There was a consensus among council members to entrust the planning staff and the Planning Commission to steer the community forward. The members acknowledged the need for a deliberative and thoughtful process in community planning and were confident in the foundation they had built for community growth.

The Importance of Affordable Housing

Councilmember Lynch shared her personal experience and professional background in landlord-tenant relationships, emphasizing the struggles many residents face in finding affordable housing. She recounted the hardship faced by renters, especially during evictions, and the necessity for policies that ensure residents do not lose their homes. She stressed that she is well acquainted with the struggle of finding housing in Lexington and how important it is for policies to reflect a commitment to affordable housing for all.

Addressing the Dichotomy of Infill Development

Councilmember Baxter pointed out the need for the community to make decisions concerning infill development. She stated that maintaining community boundaries while opposing every infill project is not practical. Through their decisions, the council must strike a balance between preserving community integrity and accommodating necessary developments.

Planning for Future Growth

Councilmember Fred Brown emphasized that the community has had a plan for growth, which is being actualized through a meticulous and slow process. He lauded the community’s effort in the past for land conservation through the purchase of development rights, which he believes is one of the community’s best achievements. He noted the importance of having land for economic development and that affordable housing is an evolving concept that needs continuous attention.

Clarification and Process Emphasis

Vice Mayor Wu clarified that the meeting’s vote was not for approving the goals and objectives but for placing them on the docket for first reading, with the final vote scheduled for the following council meeting. He emphasized the importance of establishing a solid process before any expansion, stating that it is crucial not to repeat past mistakes and to have a clear process in place for future councils to follow.

Wrapping up

In the final portion of the discussion, the new members of the council expressed their gratitude for the positive atmosphere during the discussion. Even though some had reservations about the aspects of the Comprehensive Plan, the discussions remained civil and focused on the issues.

One council member voiced their appreciation for the hard work of the planning staff and the planning commission. The council member lauded the goals and objectives of the plan, but remained apprehensive about the expansion aspect. The concerns raised were primarily about opening rural land for development, which could lead to sprawl, pollution, and strain on resources without necessarily achieving the desired benefits. There was particular emphasis on the concern regarding environmental consequences and the belief that the resources could be better utilized in making current neighborhoods more equitable.

Another council member, Councilmember Sheehan, encouraged the public to view the document in its entirety, emphasizing that it’s a reflection of the community’s values. She highlighted various themes in the document, such as housing and building successful neighborhoods, protecting the environment, creating jobs and prosperity, improving the community, and engaging and educating residents in the planning process. Sheehan urged people to focus not only on land use policies but also on other important aspects of the comprehensive plan. She reiterated gratitude to the planning commission members and the planning staff for their relentless effort and dedication.

Finally, the motion was made to place the resolution for adopting the goals and objectives for the Imagine Lexington 2045 Comprehensive Plan on the docket for the June 13th, 2023 meeting. The motion passed and the meeting progressed to the next agenda item.