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Rural Service Area Agritourism

Promote context- sensitive agritourism in the Rural Service Area.

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. As of July 2017, Horse Country had 35 member farms, clinics and a feed mill participating, with 24 of them offering tours, and in the first two years, there have been over 80,000 visitors. The community now has the opportunity to enjoy an authentic experience with horses, which further allows them to promote Lexington as a regional attraction.

In 2016, a text amendment was approved to allow agritourism and ecotourism as a conditional use in the Rural Service Area. Agritourism activities allowed in the A-R and A-N zones include corn mazes, farm gift shops, educational classes related to agricultural products or skills, horse shows involving more than 70 participants and seasonal activities. For A-B zones, children’s rides are also listed. Other agritourism and equine-related activities, such as wineries, hayrides, petting zoos, youth camps, and bed and breakfast establishments were already principal, accessory or conditional uses in the agricultural zones (KRS 100). Racetracks and historic house museums are allowed as conditional uses in the A-R zone. Ecotourism allowed in the A-R zone includes equine trails, botanical gardens and nature preserves. In the A-B and A-N zones, ecotourism includes commercial hiking and bicycling trails, equine trails, tree canopy tours, canoeing and kayaking launch sites, botanical gardens, nature preserves and recreational outfitters limited to equipment rental only. The A-B zone adds zip-line trails and removes recreational outfitters from the list.

While fun and prosperous activities are encouraged as agritourism uses, it is necessary for them to be context-sensitive in order to maintain Lexington’s unique cultural landscape.

Action Item(s)

  • Review the zoning ordinance for new agritourism and ecotourism opportunities.

Goals and Objectives

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

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

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.