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Policies Related to Agriculture

Theme B - Protection Policy 2 - Conserve Environmentally Sensitive Areas

Conserve environmentally sensitive areas, including significant natural habitats, wetlands and water bodies.

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.

Theme B - Protection Policy 3 - PDR Program to Safeguard Rural Land

Continue to implement PDR program to safeguard Lexington’s rural land.

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.

Theme B - Protection Policy 4 - Conserve Active Agriculture

Conserve active agriculture land in the Rural Service Area while promoting a creative food chain network.

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

Promote and connect local farms with the community through integrated partnerships.

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

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.

Theme B - Protection Policy 8 - Greenspace Plan

Integrate the Greenspace Plan into urban and rural area.

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.

Theme B - Restoration Policy 3 - Community Gardens & Urban Agriculture

Support community gardens and urban agriculture to restore natural resources within the Urban Service Area.

Lexington allows community gardens on public property such as parks and greenways, in areas where appropriate. Seedleaf was founded in 2007 with a mission to nourish communities by growing and sharing food in Lexington. The nonprofit grew three gardens in 2008, 10 gardens in 2009, and has grown steadily since then.

Theme B - Sustainability Policy 8 - STAR Community Rating Program

Encourage Lexington to join the 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 - Livability Policy 1 - Agritourism Economic Opportunities

Encourage economic opportunities for a wide array of agritourism while preserving the Bluegrass identity.

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

Emphasize the preservation, protection, and promotion of the iconic Bluegrass landscape along rural gateways and roadways serving as primary tourist routes.

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 - Prosperity Policy 13 - Farm Work, Technology, & Equipment

Promote increasing the supply of farm workers, and the availability and affordability of using agricultural technology, and agricultural 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 3 - Agriculture & Equine Industry

Continue to protect the Agricultural Cluster and equine industry, and support existing agricultural uses, while promoting new innovative agricultural uses in the Rural Service Area.

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 5 - Farms & Farm Tours

Continue to raise awareness of farms and 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

Promote Kentucky Proud & local Lexington products using unified branding.

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 E - Accountability Policy 1 - Urban Service Boundary Process

Create a new process for determining long-term land use decisions involving the Urban Service Boundary (USB) and Rural Activity Centers.

The 2018 Goals & Objectives for Imagine Lexington call for creating a new process for determining the when, where, why, and how of future USB modifications. This advocacy for a new way of looking at the USB is the cornerstone of this Comprehensive Plan, and is the next evolution of the nation’s first urban service boundary.

Theme E - Accountability Policy 2 - Modernize the Zoning Ordinance

Modernize the Zoning Ordinance to reflect the direction of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, proactively planning for the next 20 years of growth.

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

Implement the Placebuilder, which includes criteria for zone change applications, based upon the goals and objectives, to ensure development compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.

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

Develop growth benchmarks and determine best measurable methods to monitor them and report progress on a regular basis.

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 11 - Land Use Changes

Imagine Lexington anticipates a variety of land use changes will occur throughout the Urban Service Area and recommends those that are in agreement with the goals, objectives, and policies within this Comprehensive Plan. Land use changes alone in an area are not sufficient to constitute major changes of an economic, physical, or social nature as provided in state statute for the approval of a zone map amendment.

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 3 - Varied, Abundant, & Connected Greenspaces

Provide varied, abundant, and connected greenspaces throughout Lexington’s urban and rural areas.

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.

Theme E - Stewardship Policy 1 - Stone Fence Inventory

Update Lexington’s stone fence inventory, and pursue additional protections for this iconic and historic cultural asset.

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 4 - Coordinate Tourism of the Bluegrass Region

Coordinate with surrounding counties to capitalize on the inherent tourism draws 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

Fully realize the development potential within Lexington’s Rural Activity Centers while avoiding negative impacts to surrounding agriculture, Rural Settlements, and viewsheds.

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

Identify new compatible agritourism and ecotourism land uses that would enhance Lexington’s economy and provide additional income-generating possibilities for local farmers.

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

Consult with planning departments of adjacent counties to find common Comprehensive Plan goals, objectives and implementation items where shared benefits could be gained by working together.

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

Address economic, environmental, and social sustainability of new development to thoughtfully utilize Lexington’s resources for present needs while considering those of future generations.

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

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.