Conference will teach ‘smart growth’ in Boyle County

Published 7:42 pm Thursday, September 19, 2019

A daylong conference coming to Centre College is intended to plant the seeds of smarter growth in Boyle County.

“Finding a Balance in Boyle: Planning for Growth, Economic Development and Farmland Preservation” will be held Nov. 1 at the college’s Campus Center. It’s a free conference and lunch is provided.

The conference features a morning orientation session — “Smart Growth 101” — with Dr. Ned Crankshaw from the University of Kentucky; and a keynote presentation at lunch from Holly Wiedemann, who “has done adaptive reuse projects across Kentucky that have been catalysts for vibrancy in smaller cities and rural communities,” according to the conference’s draft agenda.

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In between, there will be a panel discussion about “components of smart growth” and four breakout sessions with narrower focuses.

What is “smart growth?” It’s a set of planning principles that focus on, among other things:

• creating mixed-land-use developments;

• keeping building designs compact;

• developing where infrastructure already exists;

• creating walkable neighborhoods;

• promoting good public transportation options; and

• preserving open spaces and farmland.

When those principles are followed, according to smart growth information provided by Boyle County planning director Steve Hunter, development can help with issues including affordable housing, climate change, “disaster resiliency and recovery,” equitable development, historic preservation, emergency response and water quality.

“I think there’s a lack of understanding and sometimes a misunderstanding” of what smart growth is, said Brian Hutzley, chief financial officer for Centre and one of the conference’s organizers. “Some people don’t know (what smart growth is) at all, and some people think they know,” but don’t.

Hutzley said people are already familiar with some ideas about economic development and jobs. Smart growth brings attention to “all those other things — housing, quality of life, walkability, farmland — so it’s very broad, taking in all these different things. That’s what smart growth is — it’s not limited to, ‘We need to develop downtown,’ or, ‘We need more houses,’ or, ‘We need more manufacturing.’”

Jennifer Kirchner, the local tourism director and another organizer, said smart growth is about taking a “holistic approach” to development.

“We want smart growth, not no growth,” Kirchner said. “You have to acknowledge that development is going to happen … We have limited resources, so using those resources in a sustainable way is important. We are one of the smallest counties in Kentucky, so how we use our land and what we’re doing with it is a really important conversation to have.”

Conference organizer Anne Ferguson said the planned mixed-use development along Stanford Road from developer Michael McAfee is a good local example of smart growth principles in action.

The development is expected to feature commercial businesses along Stanford Road, with a mix of other commercial and residential buildings behind, along a new road that would come off of Stanford Road to the west. McAfee plans to relocate his business, McAfee Mowing and Landscaping, to the back edge of the property, near a flood plain.

The development would create the possibility of a connector road between Stanford Road and South Second Street, via J.E. Woods Drive, increasing access to downtown Danville from the east side of town.

“He’s building a community with access to different resources,” Ferguson said. “He’s the first developer who was showed interest in something other than a traditional subdivision.”

The November conference is intended to educate local developers, property owners and elected officials about how they can support and pursue smart growth development across Boyle County, Kirchner said.

“These are some of the concepts and values we would like our civic leaders to incorporate” as development occurs, she said.


The conference’s panel discussion will feature:

• a panelist from a city who is “versed on small-town infill concepts” and downtown development;

• a panelist knowledgable about farmland economic development and preservation; and

• a panelist from a bigger city that has successfully developed using smart growth principles.

In the late morning, the four breakout sessions will be:

• “Reimagining Downtown Danville” — a presentation by Madison Silvert, president of The Malcolm Bryant Company, which recently purchased the building known as the Hub on Main Street;

• “Junction City, Perryville Case Study” — with Dr. Ryan Sandwick, a community design specialist;

• “County-wide Development Opportunities of Jobs & Economic Development (Balancing Small Business & Industry) Needs” — with Dr. Alison Davis, executive director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky; and

• “Housing Options, Transportation and Farmland Considerations” — with an expert on affordable, high-quality housing options and downtown real estate development.

The conference is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 1 with registration and a continental breakfast. At 9 a.m., there will be an overview of the day and at 9:15 a.m., the Smart Growth 101 session with Crankshaw begins.

The panel discussion runs from 9:50 to 10:50 a.m., when there will be 15 minutes for a question-and-answer session and discussion. The breakout sessions last from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; Wiedemann will give her keynote presentation at 12:30 during lunch.

“Report outs” and discussion from the breakout sessions will be held from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m., and a final wrap-up session on setting priorities will be from 2:30 to 3 p.m., when the conference will adjourn.

The City of Danville, Boyle County Fiscal Court and Centre College are the official sponsors. Registration is not available yet, but the event has a Facebook page, “Danville-Boyle County: Planning Our Tomorrow” ( with more information.