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Policies Related to Greenspace

Theme A - Design Policy 10 - Neighborhood Focal Points

Provide neighborhood focal points accessible to all residents.
Neighborhood focal points can be a gathering space such as a park, greenspace, a shopping center, a community center or public square. To the extent possible, new residential development should be developed with new focal points in mind by allowing for easy, multimodal access from the neighborhood instead of development that turns its back on the community hub.

Theme A - Design Policy 11 - Utilize Single Loaded Streets

Single loaded streets should be utilized in order to establish clear public access to neighborhood focal points.
Even passive greenspace requires clear, visible access in order to fulfill the needs of a neighborhood. A focal point should be clearly delineated from private lots in order to be welcoming to all residents. Development of focal points on single loaded streets removes any opportunity for them to be tucked away unsafely in the backyards of private homes.

Theme A - Design Policy 9 - Provide Adequate Greenspace

Provide adequate greenspace for all neighborhoods within walking distance.

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 7 - Integrated Community Facilities

Community facilities should be well integrated into their respective neighborhoods.

School sites should be appropriately sized for the needs of the community and designed to be an integral part of the community, rather than sequestered and closed off.

Theme B - Protection Policy 10 - Iconic Rural Fencelines

Install iconic rural fencelines around major greenways and creeks to enhance their natural beauty.

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.

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 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 7 - Protect Natural Urban Areas

Protect sensitive natural habitats and wildlife in the Urban Service Area, protect the urban forest, and significant tree canopies in crucial ecological networks.

Enhancing and strengthening the current Planning process to increase protection and responsible development when environmentally sensitive areas and/or trees are involved would help increase protection of tree stands, rare trees, natural habitats and wildlife within the urban service area in appropriate areas.

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 - Protection Policy 9 - Natural Land Geographic Context

Respect the geographic context of natural land, encourage development to protect steep slope; and locate building structures to reduce unnecessary earth disruption.

Lexington’s Zoning Ordinance (Subdivision Regulations Section 6-11) requires developers to evaluate a site’s geographic and topographic characteristics, including steep slopes and sinkholes, as part of the development planning process. New development is recommended to study the site’s geographic context in contours and watershed distributions before making master plans.

Theme B - Restoration Policy 1 - Urban Forestry Management Plan

Follow the LFUCG Urban Forestry Management Plan, protecting and recovering Lexington’s urban forest by strategically planting new trees and creating walkable streetscapes.

The urban forest plays an important role in supporting and improving the quality of life in urban areas. A tree’s shade and beauty contributes to the community’s health and softens the often hard appearance of urban landscapes and streetscapes.

Theme B - Restoration Policy 2 - Greenspace Infrastructure & Network

Use green infrastructure to bridge gaps in the greenspace network.

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.

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 11 - Green Infrastructure

Require green infrastructure elements for new development, and require during redevelopment where appropriate.

Since 2016, the stormwater manual has required the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management for both volume and water quality control.

Theme B - Sustainability Policy 12 - Encourage Green Building Practices

Encourage and explore incentives for green building practices for new development and redevelopment.

Incentives should be explored to encourage new development or redevelopment to achieve green building standards.

Theme B - Sustainability Policy 13 - Sustainability Programs & Implementation

Develop an overarching entity / organization for existing environmentally-focused agencies to collaborate on sustainability programs and follow through on implementation.

Lexington’s neighboring cities have excellent examples for sustainability partnerships.

Theme B - Sustainability Policy 4 - Accessible Greenspace

Make recommendations to locate new development within walking distance of existing greenspace / community centers, or create greenspace / community centers within walking distance of residential uses.

Development should provide greenspace or other community gathering spaces within walking distance of residents, especially if these amenities are not otherwise provided.

Strategic and walkable placement of amenities and greenspace is important as it provides for a high quality of life, but also because it reduces the vehicle miles traveled.

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 - Livability Policy 3 - Regional Athletic Field Complex

Create a large regional athletic field complex for economic development and to enhance Lexington’s existing facilities.

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 7 - Multimodal & Mixed-Use Community

Continue to create a true multimodal and mixed-use community with safe and quality access to community facilities, greenspace, employment, neighborhoods businesses, shopping, and entertainment.

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

Promote quality of life aspects, including greenspace, as an attraction to new businesses and residents.

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 - 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 D - Connectivity Policy 3 - Multimodal Access Equitability

Provide equitable multimodal access for those who do not drive due to age, disability, expense, or choice.

Mobility, social interaction, and physical activity enhance the quality of life of children, the aging population, persons with disabilities and the economically disadvantaged. The removal of barriers to independent travel reduces the need for more costly alternatives such as paratransit, private transportation services, and ‘hazard’ busing for school students.

Theme D - Placemaking Policy 1 - Town Branch Commons Strategic Master Plan

Implement the Town Branch Commons Strategic Master Plan as an element of the Comprehensive 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 13 - Downtown Master Plan

Update the 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 14 - Regional Park System

Pursue a regional park system.

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.

Theme D - Placemaking Policy 2 - Retrofit Incomplete Suburbs

Retrofit incomplete suburban developments, incorporating elements that create complete neighborhoods.

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

Establish design standards for placemaking.

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 4 - Quality Useable Open Space

Create quality and useable open space for all developments over one acre.

Open space is key for livable, sustainable communities. Whether a commercial development or residential neighborhood, how people will interact and move within a space needs to be considered. Successful, usable open space requires both private and public open space areas, designed and incorporated intentionally into the fabric of all development.

Theme D - Placemaking Policy 9 - Enhance Lexington's History

Honor Lexington’s history by requiring new development and redevelopments to enhance the cultural, physical, and natural resources that have shaped the community.

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 2 - Natural Components in School Sites

Incorporate natural components into school site design to further the goals of Theme B (Protecting the Environment), but also to provide calming elements that reduce student stress and anxiety.

With many Fayette County schools due for expansion and/or renovations in the coming year(s) and the additional group of new schools slated for construction, consideration must be given to the significance of site design that extends beyond the building and into the natural landscape that immediately surrounds the property.

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 1 - Infill & Redevelopment Area Regulations

Revisit Infill and Redevelopment Area regulations to ensure they are compatible with Imagine Lexington and are encouraging desired development.

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 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 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.