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Site Considerations

How supplemental plans work with The Placebuilder

In addition to the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, there are various plans and studies that have been adopted in order to guide growth, land use management, and context-sensitive development in Lexington.  Some of these plans are focused on specific areas within the county, while others are overarching and should be considered for all place-types. These plans are intended to complement the goals, objectives, and policies within Imagine Lexington and should be used to further inform development proposals. These considerations should be in addition to, and not in place of, the Placebuilder process and criteria, for it is the synergy of all applicable recommendations that will ensure the best, most context-appropriate outcome that uplifts our community goals.

Multi-Family Design Standards

These standards for multi-family developments, in conjunction with the zoning standards provided by the City of Lexington, are intended to provide a shared starting point and a common language for both developers and Planning staff that serves to facilitate the progress of multi-family projects in Lexington. 

Adopted as an element of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the Multi-Family Design Standards are included as Appendix A and can be referenced on the Appendices page of this website.

Site Planning
Open Space
Architectural Design

Specialized Focus Areas

Some development sites may fall within areas that require additional considerations when drafting a zone change proposal. These areas include those within the boundaries of the 2007 and 2013 Small Area Plans and the 1996 Expansion Area Master Plan. These considerations should be in addition to, and not in place of, the Placebuilder process and criteria.

Rural Developments

Development within the Rural Service Area (RSA) should consider the unique assets and opportunities offered by Lexington’s agricultural landscape.  For this reason, the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan (RLMP), in tandem with applicable policies from Imagine Lexington listed below, should act as the primary guide for all rural development endeavors and should be directly addressed in development proposals within the RSA.

Due to the distinct difference between urban place-types and rural area considerations, the RLMP is better suited to guide the limited development within the RSA than the criteria set out in the Placebuilder.  Additionally, the numerous policies, goals, and objectives within Imagine Lexington focusing on rural development link directly to the goals and objectives laid out by the RLMP These provide additional support for defining the intended nature of rural development and its impacts on the agricultural community.

Theme A - Design Policy 6

The 2018 Bike/Pedestrian Plan, called ConnectLex, envisions “a network of high quality walkways and bikeways that connects communities and fosters economic growth and regional collaboration. People of all ages and abilities will have access to comfortable and convenient walking and biking routes, resulting in true mobility choice, improved economic opportunity, and healthier lifestyles.


Theme B - Protection Policy 2

Protecting significant natural habitats, within the Rural Service Area and within the Urban Service Area where feasible, maintains biodiversity and protects habitat, native biota, and wildlife corridors. Linking greenways, tree protection areas, stream corridors, stream conservation greenways, and/or significant tree canopies allows wildlife and flora to travel and thrive in a more ecologically diverse environment in both the Rural Service Area and the Urban Service Area, where feasible.


Theme B - Protection Policy 3

As outlined in the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan, Lexington has had a long history of taking positive action to ensure the community’s rural heritage is preserved from unmanaged suburban sprawl. In 1958, the Urban Service Area Boundary was created to manage development, and has become a pioneering landmark for planning across the nation. In 2000, the Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance was adopted.


Theme B - Protection Policy 4

In 2012, Fayette County had 718 farm operations on 114,857 acres, which represented 63.3% of the total land within the county. In comparison, Kentucky’s farm operations made up 51.6% of the state’s total land area, and U.S. farm operations made up 40.5% of total land area in the country. The percentage of total farm acres used for cropland is 35.1%; the remaining acreage is mostly horse farms.


Theme B - Protection Policy 5

Bluegrass Farm-to-Table was founded in 2015 with a mission to promote the development of a more vibrant local food economy by supporting food-related agricultural development. It has 21 partners including the government, universities, schools, farms, private entities throughout the community. Supporting the local food system has important implications for consumers, farmers, food-related businesses and entrepreneurs, and the community as a whole.


Theme B - Protection Policy 6

The 2017 Rural Land Management Plan has a thorough summary of the recent tourism developments in the rural service area. Year after year, visitors surveyed by VisitLEX say that they come to the Bluegrass for the horses, landscape and bourbon. The two major attractions, which draw more than a million visitors a year to the Rural Service Area, are the Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland. There are numerous for-profit tour companies and Horse Country, a non-profit coalition of farms that provide visitors from all over the world with access to these destinations.


Theme B - Protection Policy 8

Availability and accessibility of greenspace is essential for human growth and development. As suggested in the 1994 Greenspace Plan, the benefits of creating a comprehensive greenspace system go far beyond leisure and aesthetics, and are fundamental to the future economy and quality of the environment of this community and the entire Bluegrass Region. Protecting our remaining greenspace is not a luxury; it is a necessity for maintaining the quality of life that Bluegrass residents have always enjoyed and will continue to desire for the future.


Theme B - Protection Policy 10

As Horse Capital of the World, horse farm style plank fences have become part of the cultural landscape of the Lexington Bluegrass region. Large portions of the major greenways are owned and maintained by LFUCG, and efforts should be expanded to incorporate horse farm style plank fences. The public should also explore partnership opportunities for other privately managed greenway areas to maintain Lexington’s identity.


Theme B - Sustainability Policy 7

LFUCG Energy Initiatives work closely with divisions across government to implement the city’s Energy Management Plan, which was established in 2004 to reduce consumption of utility and fuel resources, promote conservation, and realize cost savings. Energy efficiency criteria is used to guide purchasing decisions in new buildings, repairs and retrofits. Account-by-account rate analysis has identified less expensive options for many utility accounts, saving taxpayer dollars.


Theme B - Sustainability Policy 11

Since 2016, the stormwater manual has required the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management for both volume and water quality control. Below is a list of green infrastructure practices approved for use in Fayette County for volume control.


Theme B - Sustainability Policy 12

Incentives should be explored to encourage new development or redevelopment to achieve green building standards. New development is encouraged to locate building structures at optimum conditions for the use of solar energy, and to consider sunlight impacts to adjacent dwelling units at preliminary development stage.


Theme B - Restoration Policy 2

Green infrastructure provides numerous environmental benefits, such as stormwater management, with limited disruption to natural land. It can serve as an urban oasis in the regional ecological system and create linkages within the greenspace network. The 2004 Greenway Master Plan identified several conservation greenways in the county which are a crucial component of the greenspace network within our region. Development within or adjacent to these greenways should consider incorporating green infrastructure as a means of creating and/or maintaining connections to the network.


Theme C - Livability Policy 1

Agritourism is an increasingly important part of Lexington tourism, and with recent developments like the creation of Horse Country, which has accounted for over 70,000 horse farm tours alone since its inception, and Boone Creek Outdoors zip line canopy tours, the timing is right to continue with that momentum. Efforts should be made to ensure that the local Fayette County extension office and the Kentucky USDA know about the agritourism uses allowed in Lexington’s rural service area, so farmers are aware of the options they may have for additional revenue streams.


Theme C - Livability Policy 2

Visitors to Lexington frequently remark about the scenic beauty observed while driving through the farmland on the way to a destination. Trips to horse farms, distilleries, breweries, or any of the other tourist hot spots become as much about the journey as the destination. The experience draws people in, and, in some cases, influences visitors’ decisions to locate themselves or their businesses to Lexington permanently.


Theme C - Prosperity Policy 3

Before the beginning of the 21st century, with world-renowned soils and the risk of losing farmland to large lot residential and other development, Lexington started a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. The program has been in existence for nearly 20 years, with PDR easements protecting farmland for food security and for conservation of environmentally sensitive lands. Currently, 23% of the Rural Service Area (28,953 acres) is protected by PDR easements, with a stated end goal of 50,000 total acres, or 39% of the Rural Service Area, to be protected.


Theme C - Prosperity Policy 5

VisitLex’s 2018 Visitors Guide and the VisitLex website are packed with information about attractions, accommodations, dining, tours, and events of all kinds, plus great maps, with one of them showing the locations of horse farms. The VisitLex website includes horse farms in both Fayette and other counties, which is beneficial for regional tourism. Lexington benefits when visitors stop in from other destinations, and is generally the home base for people exploring the central Kentucky region, meaning the bulk of the travel dollars are spent in Lexington’s local economy. Horse Country, Inc.


Theme C - Prosperity Policy 6

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud program is funded by the 1998 Tobacco Settlement. Registered members get marketing assistance, promotional materials at cost, grants opportunities, no-cost meat grading, international marketing, cost-share for wineries, veterans program, and restaurant reimbursements for using Kentucky Proud foods. The logo is wide-spread and has become quite recognizable throughout the Commonwealth. Lexington/Fayette County should consider a logo program to identify locally grown/produced products and experiences.


Theme D - Placemaking Policy 9

Lexington’s history can be told in many ways, but none better than to look around and see the cultural places, the important structures, and the natural landscapes that created this community. In order for the community to continue to move forward, there must be recognition of the importance of the past, ensuring that it lives on for future generations.


Theme D - Placemaking Policy 14

Regional parks can provide multiple community-wide benefits relating to public health, recreation and environmental protection. They serve the city as a whole, in comparison to smaller parks, which meet local needs. Such parks are typically fairly large in terms of acreage, and often include significant environmental features such as waterbodies, floodplains, forests or sensitive natural habitats.


Theme E - Stewardship Policy 1

Stone fences are iconic to the historic and cultural landscape of Lexington’s rural heritage. They play a unique role in the region’s identity and contribute to the scenic views, rural corridors and rolling hills. Despite the role stone fences play in defining the sense of place within the Inner Bluegrass Region, they are in critical danger of being lost to development and neglect.


Theme E - Stewardship Policy 3

A regional transportation network provides for the movement of goods and people though a multimodal system, which includes trains, trucks, buses, cars, bikes, and pedestrian options. As the regional transportation network grows, a viable system of accessible transportation alternatives should be implemented for residents and commuters alike. This includes complete streets that give consideration to bicycle and pedestrian traffic in addition to cars, trucks, buses, and ride sharing options while utilizing the latest innovative advancements in technology.


Theme E - Stewardship Policy 5

The 2017 Rural Land Management Plan has a stated policy emphasis for the Rural Activity Centers (RACs) to “maximize their potential for jobs while maintaining their boundaries and minimizing impacts to the rural area.” The Rural Service Area (RSA) includes 1,562 acres dedicated to the four RACs: Blue Sky Industrial Park, Avon (Blue Grass Station), Spindletop Research Park, and the Blue Grass Airport.


Theme E - Stewardship Policy 9

Lexington has 19 rural settlements that are essential to the history and fabric of the rural landscape. Three of the historic settlements, Bracktown, Cadentown, and Jonestown, have been absorbed into the Urban Service Area, while 16 reside in the Rural Service Area, totaling 505 acres.


Theme E - Growth Policy 3

The Bluegrass identity sets Lexington apart from the rest of the world. It is vital that this identity be preserved and maintained through the designation and preservation of greenspace; growth should strike a harmonious balance between development and preservation. Lexington has and should continue to provide abundant new greenspace and greenways, while preserving existing natural areas that continue to foster and promote growth.


Additional Plans & Resources