Council has worked for approximately four years to determine appropriate recreational uses for Lexington’s rural area. The challenge for Council has been balancing the need for action with the need to protect Lexington’s agricultural zones. I believe we have achieved a responsible outcome with the Recreation and Tourism Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment (Rec ZOTA).
The issue reappeared before Council when Councilmember Susan Lamb brought it before the June 14, 2016 Planning & Public Safety Committee meeting. The discussion focused on whether the following six uses should be classified as conditional or principal:
- Educational classes related to agricultural products or skills
- Commercial hiking & bicycling trails
- Tree canopy tours
- Equine trails
- Canoeing & kayaking launch sites
- Nature preserves
A work group convened by then-Vice Mayor Linda Gorton had recommended these uses be conditional. The city’s planning staff concurred with this recommendation. The Planning Commission voted 6-5, however, to change those recommended uses from conditional to principal.
At the Planning & Public Safety Committee meeting, I moved to amend the Planning Commission’s recommendation so that the activities are classified as conditional uses, to reflect the work groups initial recommendation. The amendment passed 7-2 and the ZOTA went to the full Council as amended. At the June 28, 2016 work session, following some debate, Council voted unanimously to place the legislation on the docket. The Rec ZOTA as amended received a first reading on July 5, 2016, a second reading on July 7, 2016, and passed without objection. I am pleased that Council passed legislation that allows expanded recreational uses and protects our hallmark rural area. For additional background on this complex issue, you can view my earlier blog posts on this topic here and here.