Given Lexington’s ever-increasing population, the community’s expressed desire to create exciting walkable places, and the goal of preserving valuable agricultural land, density is very important. However, high density development is not appropriate in every context.
Policies Related to Economic Development
Theme A - Density Policy 1 - High Density Corridors & Downtown
Theme A - Density Policy 3 - Supportive Neighborhood Uses
Ideal neighborhoods include not only a mix of housing types, but also a mix of uses, including neighborhood-serving businesses and opportunities for work and leisure. Incorporating more of these uses into existing neighborhoods as well as new developments should be encouraged.
Theme A - Density Policy 4 - Density to Support Transit
Theme A - Design Policy 10 - Neighborhood Focal Points
Theme A - Design Policy 12 - Neighborhood Commercial
In many neighborhoods developed decades ago, the commercial areas designated to serve as neighborhood focal points have become poorly utilized or have slowly deteriorated and need additional investment. Proactively rezoning these sites from Neighborhood Business (B-1) to Commercial Center Zone (B-6P) would afford new flexibility at a neighborhood scale.
Theme A - Design Policy 4 - Context Sensitive Development
Context-sensitive development is compatible and complementary to adjacent neighborhoods and communities. It enhances the existing neighborhoods through land uses and development patterns that are sensitive to the nearby built and natural environments.
Theme A - Design Policy 6 - Lexington Area MPO Bike/Ped Master Plan
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 A - Design Policy 9 - Provide Adequate Greenspace
Greenspace is key to successful neighborhoods. It has the benefits of improving air quality, providing social interactions, and improving public health.
Theme A - Equity Policy 3 - Up-Zone near Transit
Theme B - Protection Policy 4 - Conserve Active Agriculture
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.
Theme B - Protection Policy 5 - Connect Farms to Community
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.
Theme B - Protection Policy 6 - Rural Service Area Agritourism
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.
Theme B - Sustainability Policy 12 - Encourage Green Building Practices
Incentives should be explored to encourage new development or redevelopment to achieve green building standards.
Theme B - Sustainability Policy 3 - Transit-Oriented Development
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) refers to communities with high quality public transit services, good walkability, and compact, mixed land use.
Theme B - Sustainability Policy 6 - Telecommuting & Flexible Work
Traffic creates headaches for commuters. At the same time, it generates more air pollution than drivers may realize. However, improving available technology and sustainable initiatives by corporations, such as telecommuting and flexible work schedules away from rush hour, have come into play in many areas.
Theme B - Sustainability Policy 8 - STAR Community Rating Program
STAR Communities is a nonprofit organization that works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. They administer the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), the nation’s first framework and certification program for local sustainability. Cities and counties use STAR to measure their progress across social, economic and environmental performance areas.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 1 - Create Opportunities for Incubators
Lexington needs additional space to encourage more startup businesses, as well as for startups who have outgrown their original space. As new ventures, there are barriers that these young companies must overcome, such as a lack of credit and a need for mid-level space of about 1,000 square feet or larger.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 2 - Encourage a Diverse Economic Base
Unemployment is low in Lexington, but many jobs are concentrated in industries of less than average pay. When looking at the mix of employment in Lexington, excluding government jobs, the top three industries with the most employment were Healthcare and Social Assistance, Retail Trade, and Accommodation and Food Services.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 3 - Minority Business Enterprise Program
Minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses are underrepresented in Lexington, and the MBEP, as well as other agencies, are making efforts to help lessen this disproportion.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 4 - Encourage Workforce Inclusion
The Opportunity for Work & Learning (OWL) is a non-profit organization that has helped 26,000 people since 1961 to overcome mental and physical disabilities or prior incarceration to achieve growth in their personal, as well as professional lives.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 5 - Opportunity Zones
Established by Congress in 2017, the Opportunity Zones program allows investors in certain communities to qualify for preferential tax treatment. Communities that are eligible to become Opportunity Zones are in areas determined to be economically disadvantaged and must be nominated by the state.
Theme C - Diversity Policy 6 - Home Occupation Flexibility
The advances in communication and information technology, especially the impact of home computers and the internet, allow for more mobile businesses and working from home. Eliminating the commute to work, avoiding the cost of leasing or owning space for a business, and being near loved ones are among the reasons that make working from home attractive.
Theme C - Livability Policy 1 - Agritourism Economic Opportunities
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.
Theme C - Livability Policy 2 - Rural Bluegrass Gateways & Roadways
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.
Theme C - Livability Policy 3 - Regional Athletic Field Complex
According to the 2018 Parks and Recreation Master Plan:
“The Bluegrass Sports Commission previously approached the city about a partnership for the development of a sports complex to promote economic development.
Theme C - Livability Policy 4 - Coordinate Transit Logistics for Special Events
The Lexington Area MPO regularly meets with the Traffic Safety Coalition subcommittee, the Transportation Technical Coordinating Committee, Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Transportation Coordination Committee to review security of the transportation systems.
Theme C - Livability Policy 5 - Enhance Programs & Activities
Many of the festivals, parades, and events that Parks and Recreation hold are in the same location each year. Events, festivals, parades, and the like are important in celebrating holidays, cultures, and community celebrations. These activities add to the livability of the city, attract tourists, and provide entertainment options that appeal to millennials, as well as people of all ages.
Theme C - Livability Policy 6 - Attract & Retain Young Professionals
In 2017, a survey titled “The Experience Movement: How Millennials are Bridging Cultural & Political Divides Offline” was conducted by Eventbrite and Harris Poll. It revealed that most millennials would rather spend their money on experiences or events than on tangible things. Millennials have a common fear of missing out on an enjoyable event or experience that others are having.
Theme C - Livability Policy 7 - Multimodal & Mixed-Use Community
Walkscore is a website that scores neighborhoods based on a formula that assesses a neighborhood’s walkability, bikeability, and multimodal service on a scale from 1 to 100. In reviewing local Lexington scores, some areas scored much higher in walk and bike scores than others.
Theme C - Livability Policy 8 - Promote Quality of Life
The design of a city, its public spaces, and public infrastructure have important correlations with quality of life, social development, and other key components of human wellbeing. Likewise, appealing cities are more likely to attract a creative, innovative, and skilled workforce, and the investments that are needed to drive the urban economy.
Theme C - Livability Policy 9 - Strategically Preserve Production Land
The creation of adaptive reuse regulations was an acknowledgment that many of Lexington’s older industrial zoned sites were no longer suited for modern economic development purposes. As those properties became vacant and dilapidated, it presented opportunities to support the urban core with businesses and residential options better suited for their urban environment.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 1 - Hire & Recruit Local Residents
Hiring workers that live in the vicinity of a construction project builds a sense of ownership and empowerment in community development. It may also allow some workers to walk or bike to work. If there is a lack of training, working with local agencies and training programs to get workers trained before construction begins would increase economic sustainability of the area and its residents.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 10 - Flexible & Shared Parking
Parking demands operate on a peak and off-peak schedule depending on related land use.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 11 - Industry Education & Training
One of Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s (BCTC) 45 programs of study is an Advanced Manufacturing Technician program, which prepares students for high-wage, high-demand manufacturing maintenance technician jobs. These students work part-time for their sponsoring employers, taking classes two days a week in mechanics, robotics, electricity, fabrication, and fluid power.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 12 - Coldstream Research Campus
During the development of Imagine Lexington’s Goals & Objectives in 2017, amidst conversations with economic development professionals and a study of existing opportunities, a call was made for a publicly-controlled business park. In response to Theme C Goal 3, city officials worked with the University of Kentucky (UK) to execute a land swap addressing Lexington’s need for employment land.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 13 - Farm Work, Technology, & Equipment
According to a 2017 report by Lynn Roche Phillips, PhD., AICP, and Priyanka Ghosh, PhD., University of Kentucky, Department of Geography, titled “Rural Land Use Inventory, Fayette County, Kentucky,” Lexington is utilizing 108,248 acres, or 86% of its Rural Service Area for agriculture.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 2 - Support Development & Infrastructure Funding
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council started an Economic Development Grant to help with “funding projects that will positively impact economic and workforce development in the City of Lexington.” The funding will be used for training/retraining, entrepreneurial support, employment re-entry, work-based learning and/or skills certification scholarships, and/or potentially other services rel…
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 3 - Agriculture & Equine Industry
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.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 4 - Fiber-Optic Broadband Infrastructure
Nearly every aspect of modern society is becoming increasingly web-dependent and, like the Interstate highway system connects communities, digital broadband infrastructure is essential for any 21st century community to thrive in areas of commerce, health, education, entertainment, and government.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 5 - Farms & Farm Tours
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.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 6 - Kentucky Proud & Local Lexington Products
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.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 7 - Increase Networking Opportunities
As part of the Imagine Lexington process, staff met with representatives from many of the agency-types listed above to help inform the Plan’s recommendations.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 8 - Employ Local Graduates
Lexington has public and private post-secondary education institutions awarding thousands of degrees and certificates each year. Some of these graduates find jobs in their career fields in Lexington, some in other counties, some other states, etc.
Theme C - Prosperity Policy 9 - Utilize Vacant Office Space
According to several industry professionals in Lexington, there is a surplus of vacant professional office space. Reviewing NAI Isaac’s 2017 Market Report, the vacancy rate for office space is around 12%, with over a million square feet of available space throughout the urban service area. This is a significantly higher vacant rate than either industrial or retail.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 1 - Town Branch Commons Strategic Master Plan
Town Branch Commons will be a strip of Bluegrass running through downtown Lexington, roughly following the path of Town Branch, Lexington’s first water source. It will link the city's two major trails, Town Branch Trail and the Legacy Trail, to provide 22 miles of uninterrupted trail connecting downtown to the rural landscape.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 10 - Public Art Easements
The creation of the adaptive reuse ordinance in 2008 was the first time the zoning ordinance considered any provision for public art on private property. Since that time, public art in Lexington has become a substantial part of the urban fabric.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 11 - Adaptive Reuse Ordinance
The creation of the Adaptive Reuse provisions in the Wholesale Warehouse (B-4) and Light Industrial (I-1) zones was a boon to Lexington’s economy. Adaptive reuse projects were typically located in areas where the original land uses were no longer desirable because of their lack of proximity to major travel corridors.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 12 - Underutilized Commercial Property
The goals and objectives of this comprehensive plan very plainly call for an intensification of the major corridors. Other proposed policies throughout the document have taken aim at the regulatory side of the equation. Another critical aspect of this policy framework is to engage the public along these corridors about these issues and what forms these intensifications may take.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 13 - Downtown Master Plan
The current Downtown Master Plan focused largely on specified projects and proposed infill locations. Since its adoption, the identified projects have largely either been completed or jettisoned for one reason or another. Further, the broad focus on infill lot identification did little to provide guidance on how those properties should develop.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 15 - Develop a Citywide Festival
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 2 - Retrofit Incomplete Suburbs
For decades, Lexington embraced strong Euclidian zoning as a way to protect residential uses from the negative externalities of incompatible land uses. However, the market has seen a significant shift in residential consumer preferences, to which Lexington must respond and address with more modern zoning regulations.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 3 - Placemaking Design Standards
Having thoughtful design standards that are both flexible and responsive to diverse conditions is an essential component of moving toward a community filled with special places that are inviting and memorable.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 6 - Expansion Area Master Plan
The adoption of the Expansion Area Master Plan (EAMP) in 1996 created a framework for zoning and public infrastructure that was entirely new to Lexington. However, there has been a significant shift in development patterns and land costs since that plan was adopted.
Theme D - Placemaking Policy 9 - Enhance Lexington's History
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.
Theme D - Support Policy 3 - Wireless Communications Network
In the last several Comprehensive Plans, as well as in the Rural Land Management Plan, the importance of wireless communication has been recognized as integral to the safety and welfare of the community – in both the Urban Service Area and the Rural Service Area.
Theme D - Support Policy 7 - Support High Speed Internet
Quality and dependable high speed internet is vital to top-tier businesses, small entrepreneurs, and private personal device users alike. As of late 2017, the Council voted to approve a 10-year franchise agreement to MetroNet, a company new to the Lexington market, to provide gigabit speed internet service.
Theme E - Accountability Policy 2 - Modernize the Zoning Ordinance
The last major overhaul of Lexington’s Zoning Ordinance in 1983, much needed in the wake of the City and County merger, also included significant revisions to the Land Subdivision Regulations. There was a focus on raising the bar for future development and ensuring that public infrastructure be built to standards that more adequately addressed public health and safety.
Theme E - Accountability Policy 3 - Implement the Placebuilder
Imagine Lexington is full of policies that guide how development should occur throughout the city, and all of them are important. However, it can be difficult to ascertain by simply glancing at the text of the plan what developers should be aiming for with new proposed development or redevelopment.
Theme E - Accountability Policy 4 - Develop Benchmarks & Metrics
Plans are only as good as their ability to gauge measurable results in a timely fashion. To know if a plan is reaching desired outcomes, it is imperative to track the successes and failures so future adjustments can be made and successes replicated. Imagine Lexington is crafted as a policy-based plan with very specific goals in mind.
Theme E - Growth Policy 1 - Infill & Redevelopment Area Regulations
The first Infill & Redevelopment Committee was created in 1996, which led to the 2001 Residential I/R Study, official adoption of the defined Infill & Redevelopment Area in the 2001 Comprehensive Plan, and subsequent regulatory changes to implement the Plan.
Theme E - Growth Policy 10 - Underutilized Property
Since the beginning of the century, the United States has seen significant growth in annual e- commerce sales. Shifts in consumer behavior, particularly among millennials, have contributed to a near 15% increase in online sales revenue every year since 2010.
Theme E - Growth Policy 11 - Land Use Changes
State statue provides direction on the findings necessary for proposed map amendments or zone changes. The primary threshold to clear is that the proposal must be in agreement with the adopted comprehensive plan.
Theme E - Growth Policy 2 - Downtown Development & Improvements
The implementation of the infill and redevelopment boundary and its corresponding special zoning provisions was a boon to downtown growth, coming at a time when citizens began to take interest, once again, in living in a more urban setting.
Theme E - Growth Policy 4 - Adaptive Reuse
Structures often outlive the function that they were built to serve, and there is nothing new about stabilizing and rehabbing an old structure; however, under modern Zoning Ordinance provisions, refitting an old building for a new use is often problematic, particularly given the existing suburban parking requirements.
Theme E - Growth Policy 5 - Historic Assets & Future Growth
With any future development of Lexington, reverence and critical review of the city’s history is imperative.
Theme E - Growth Policy 6 - New Development & Historic Districts
Traditionally, the application of zoning has been almost universally about softening the edges of varying land uses against each other. American economic shifts have resulted in less need for stepdown zoning, as today planners are less likely to need to address mitigating the impacts of manufacturing and industrial uses on less intense areas directly adjacent.
Theme E - Growth Policy 8 - Proactively Rezone Properties
Previous small area plans, which contained future land use recommendations, have been critical to facilitating future development in those locations. Recommendations in the South Nicholasville Road Small Area Plan led the way for The Summit at Fritz Farm, an area that had been the subject of numerous failed zone change attempts in the past.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 1 - Stone Fence Inventory
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.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 2 - Connect Regional Economic Hubs
As Lexington’s economic and social capital grows, there will be impacts on surrounding counties and cities. The latent effects of these successes can change neighboring communities in a variety of ways, including their economies, housing stock, and industrial development.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 3 - Facilitate Inter-county Connectivity
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.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 4 - Coordinate Tourism of the Bluegrass Region
Lexington is not alone in reaping the natural and historical benefits of the Bluegrass Region, as the surrounding counties all have similar assets, as well unique cultural and historic draws that make the region an attractive tourist destination.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 5 - Rural Activity Centers
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 Ai…
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 6 - Agritourism & Ecotourism
The Agritourism Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment was important in further establishing protections for the horse industry, as well as other agriculture industries. The impact of that text amendment should be monitored to identify opportunities to add further complementary uses that expand tourism options without negatively affecting existing industries.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 7 - Consult with Adjacent Counties
Regional planning efforts in the past have been difficult endeavors for many reasons; however, there is a shared goal among staff from all of Lexington’s regional neighbors to advance the basic principles of urban planning.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 8 - Sustainability for Present & Future
The focus of sustainable development is to raise the standard of living for current residents without precluding the same opportunity to future generations. There are three facets to sustainability through which all proposed development should be reviewed: Economic, Social, and Environmental.
Theme E - Stewardship Policy 9 - Protect & Preserve 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.