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Protect & Preserve Rural Settlements

Follow and implement the recommendations of the 2007 Study of Fayette County’s Small Rural Communities and the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan to protect and preserve Lexington’s rural settlements.

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.

The majority of the rural settlements were settled by free African-Americans after the Civil War. Many descendants of those who first settled these communities still remain on the same land today and operate small farms and businesses. The rural settlements also comprise a significant portion of the African-American homeownership in Fayette County.

A three-year study of Fayette County’s rural settlements, begun in 2002, documented their character and history and gave policy recommendations to protect each of their unique identities, all of which were included in the 2007 Comprehensive Plan. While some actions have been taken as a result of these policy recommendations, many of these small rural settlements remain threatened. Threats include potential urban expansion, population decline, possible gentrification if redeveloped, and loss of unique identity. To protect and preserve Lexington’s rural settlements:

  • The current lotting patterns should be maintained, unless the action taken would restore the parcel’s historic condition;
  • New housing opportunities on vacant lots should be promoted to ensure the longevity of the rural settlements;
  • An ND-1 or H-1 overlay, tailored to the needs of these individual communities, should be considered;
  • Infrastructure measures that both improve the quality of life for residents of the rural settlements and are compatible with the Rural Service Area should be explored, including transportation and public transit, tourism, and internet/Wi-Fi connection;
  • Consider adjusting the PDR program’s evaluative point system so applications which include farmland adjacent to rural settlements are awarded additional points;
  • Identify local land use advocacy groups to partner as stakeholders in the development of policy and education/outreach efforts within rural settlements;
  • The policy recommendations for rural settlements from the 2007 Study of Fayette County’s Small Rural Communities and the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan should be implemented.

Goals and Objectives

GOAL B3: Apply environmentally sustainable practices to protect, conserve and restore landscapes and natural resources.

Objective: B3b

Identify and protect natural resources and landscapes before development occurs.

GOAL D3: Protect and enhance the natural and cultural landscapes that give Lexington-Fayette County its unique identity and image.

Objective: D3a

Protect historic resources and archaeological sites.

Objective: D3b

Incentivize the renovation, restoration, development and maintenance of historic residential and commercial structures.

Objective: D3c

Develop incentives to retain, restore, preserve and continue use of historic site and structures, rural settlements and urban and rural neighborhoods.

GOAL E1: Uphold the Urban Service Area concept.

Objective: E1b

Ensure all types of development are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable to accommodate the future growth needs of all residents while safeguarding rural land.

GOAL E2: Support the agricultural economy, horse farms, general agricultural farms and the rural character of the Rural Service Area.

Objective: E2a

Protect and enhance the natural, cultural, historic and environmental resources of Lexington-Fayette County's Rural Service Area and Bluegrass farmland to help promote the general agricultural brand and ensure Lexington-Fayette County remains the Horse Capital of the World.

Objective: E2b

Support the Purchase of Development Rights and private sector farmland conservation programs to protect, preserve and enhance our signature agricultural industries, historic structures, cultural landscapes, natural environments and community welfare.

GOAL E3: Maintain the current boundaries of the Urban Service Area and Rural Activity Centers; and create no new Rural Activity Centers. To ensure Lexington is responsive to its future land use needs, this Goal shall be superseded and no longer in effect upon completion of Theme E, Goal 4, Objective D.

There are no objectives related to this policy that further this particular goal.