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Junction plans to rejoin P&Z on hold until new council members take office

Planning for Junction City to rejoin county-wide planning and zoning has been put on hold momentarily, until newly elected officials take their seats.

“We’re going to have a lot of new players coming into this process, so the idea is we’ll wait until the first of the year,” P&Z Director Steve Hunter told the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday morning.

Three newcomers were elected to the Junction City Council on Nov. 6 — Vickie Bowling, Mary Hurst and Connie Vernon.

“I think we want to go back and just make sure they’re still of the same opinion” as the current council, Hunter said. “… As a courtesy to the incoming council members, we want to go back and talk to them about it after the first of the year.”

Hunter said in addition to new Junction City officials, there are also new officials in other local governments. Those officials must be part of the process of Junction rejoining P&Z, because all the local governments must approve a new interlocal agreement, he explained.

While there were no changes to Danville’s elected officials, the Boyle County Fiscal Court will have a new judge-executive and four new magistrates out of six. The City of Perryville will have a new mayor and an entirely new set of six council members.

Future land-use map

Whenever Junction does rejoin P&Z, a committee led by current council members has already done “impressive” work on a new future land-use map for the city, Hunter said.

“We have a brand new future land use map that they helped me put together,” he said. “… They planned their whole community out there by the airport … they’ve labeled several parts of their community high-density — (a classification) that doesn’t exist in (Danville) and didn’t get put in the Perryville map. There’s targeted apartment areas they want to see in Junction City to take advantage of their road network and sewer network that they have down there.

“So it’s an impressive future land-use map that’s going to be unique to their town. So they’re serious about coming back on, we’ll just have to wait until the first of the year to get that rolling.”

Junction City split ways with the P&Z Commission in 2011. Mayor Jim Douglas led the charge beginning in 2009 to leave P&Z, alleging P&Z regulations were enforced unevenly depending on who was in violation. He also claimed onerous P&Z regulations had led some business development prospects considering Junction to go elsewhere.

The P&Z Commission asked for a legal opinion when Junction voted to leave, and in 2011, the Boyle County Circuit Court issued a partial judgment removing the city from P&Z’s authority.

Junction City Officials believed they could regulate zoning and enforcement on their own, but P&Z Attorney Bruce Smith said this year he doesn’t believe Junction could ever have done so legally, because of how state laws are written.

Douglas has changed his mind since 2011; he advocated for and supported the council’s decision to pursue rejoining P&Z. “I think it’s time,” he said during the council’s October meeting.

Hunter has said previously what brought the issue to the surface was a dispute between the city and developer Tom Hensley over new streets he built in the Shelby Green neighborhood off of U.S. 127 South.

City officials had complained that a plat from Hensley was accepted without a signature from Junction City; and that the roads do not meet minimum standards, such as being only 19 feet wide instead of at least 20 feet. Hensley wrote a letter to Douglas threatening legal action if the city interfered.

If Junction City has no authority on its own to enforce P&Z regulations, then city officials can’t do anything about the streets or the plat — but they are also under no obligation to ever accept the streets into city maintenance, Hunter explained previously.

“In this case, there’s no process to accept those developer-built streets,” Hunter said in October. “… There’s a good chance these could be private streets forever.”