P&Z tables zone change for medium-density housing project

Published 6:28 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Lexington-based development company gained initial approval this week from the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission to pursue a moderate-density housing project on Old Shakertown Road.

Over the objections of neighboring property owners, the P&Z Commission approved 4-2 an amendment to the future land-use map (FLUM) for a 4.1-acre tract at 707 Old Shakertown Road, next to the public housing neighborhood off the same road and near the northern Y intersection with North Third Street/Ky. 33. The FLUM amendment changes the future goal for the property from low-density residential to medium-density residential.

But commissioners voted 4-2 to table a second step for the property, a requested zone change from general residential and agriculture to “neighborhood conservation classification,” a flexible zone that allows denser residential structures.

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Before approving a zone change, commissioners want to see a preliminary site plan and a traffic impact study for the project.

Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com
A single-family home and barn stand on the property currently.

P&Z Director Steve Hunter said Old Shakertown LLC originally came to him with a concept plan for 80 housing units on the 4-acre tract of land. After working with the company, that number was revised down to a maximum of 65 units.

James Boutcher, a partner in Old Shakertown LLC, told commissioners the 65 number was based on the maximum allowed units in the moderate-density NCC zone — 16 per acre. But in reality, the company probably wouldn’t exceed 48 units.

Local attorney Kevin Nesbitt represented Boutcher before the commission and argued in favor of the FLUM amendment and zone change. The property in question is bordered to the south by the Housing Authority’s moderate-density neighborhood, and on part of its northern border by duplexes that are also zoned for moderate-density housing, Nesbitt said.

“The compatible use and the appropriate use for this is medium-density, moderate-density residential,” Nesbitt said. “… The goal is to provide an adequate supply of decent, safe and sanitary housing for citizens of all income levels. My clients believe there is a need for this type of development.”

Two neighboring property owners spoke in opposition to the proposal.

Jaqulyn Stigall, who owns a farm property to the north, said she fears the addition of moderate-density residential structures on the edge of her agricultural land would harm her property value and contribute further to an existing problem of trash in Spears Creek, which runs along Old Shakertown Road and Ky. 33.

Stigall said she is also concerned about how much traffic such a development would create at the already dangerous Y intersection.

Rick Cole owns the duplexes to the north of the proposed development. He said the proposal for 65 units would be more than twice as dense as the current public housing development. The development proposal calls for two-story structures, and nothing in the area currently is taller than one story, he said.

To the north of 707 Old Shakertown Road is the road’s intersection with North Third Street, a Y-shaped intersection that some say is dangerous.

Cole said he also believes Old Shakertown Road and a bridge over Spears Creek are not wide enough to be up-to-code for fire trucks, making it dangerous to add so many housing units.

“It obviously doesn’t conform to what the neighborhood is,” he said. “… There is all kinds of reasons to deny this and not a good reason to approve it.”

Dale Shepperson, an engineer with AGE Engineering who is working on the project, said there is infrastructure in place on the roadway.

“Will it have to be upgraded? As that comes up, we will look into that, of course,” Shepperson said. “And if it does need to be upgraded, then we will upgrade it.”

P&Z Director Hunter supported the idea of using a traffic study to inform what kinds of conditions the commission might impose on the project. He suggested one possibility to address neighbors’ traffic safety concerns could be terminating the existing Y intersection and curving Old Shakertown Road into a T intersection with Ky. 33, using property on the inside of the Y intersection that Old Shakertown LLC already owns.

“You could see how we could figure out a traffic solution if we had a traffic study, or if you guys decided right now to make it a condition,” Hunter said, adding that P&Z could require the developer to pay the costs for any necessary traffic improvements recommended by the study.

Hunter said P&Z could also address concerns over the appearance of the property by setting conditions on maximum building height and setbacks from the agricultural land to the north.

After a lengthy debate over the FLUM amendment, P&Z commissioners Jeffrey Baird, Susie Kelly, Terry Manon and Jim Boyd voted in favor; P&Z Chair Jerry Leber and Commissioner Vince DiMartino voted against.

When it came to the zone change request, Manon made the motion to table the matter until Old Shakertown LLC came back with a traffic study and a preliminary site plan showing what the development might look like. DiMartino seconded. Manon, DiMartino, Leber and Kelly supported the motion; Baird and Boyd voted against.