FAR ZOTA Questions for Council 9/24/2020

The FCNC has sent the following list of questions to the Urban County Council regarding the proposed FAR Ordinance.  It comes up for Council consideration this Thursday.  Contact your Council Member should you have any questions or concerns.

September 22, 2020

Dear Council Members,

Please find below key questions that the Fayette County Neighborhood Council has regarding the FAR ZOTA that you will be considering this Thursday:

Key Questions Regarding FAR ZOTA

  • Are the existing R-3, R-4, and R-5 zones really located close to existing infrastructure, services, transit, and jobs? Infrastructure in a broad sense would include parking, greenspace, public transit, schools, grocery stores, focal points, functional sewage and stormwater facilities, etc.
  • Will the ZOTA increase our affordable housing supply and encourage equitable development in Lexington? If so, shouldn’t the ZOTA include an affordable housing provision?  Is the ZOTA consistent with the recent recommendations from the Gentrification and Housing Subcommittee?  FAR has advocates.  However, are there data showing actual results?
  • Multi-family and apartment zoning has been in place for decades in Lexington. Shouldn’t the ZOTA consider if the locations of the zones created decades ago are appropriate for an increase in population density and impermeable surface? Shouldn’t new sites be added to the ZOTA, particularly in underutilized commercial zones?  One of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic likely will be a decline in the need for activity in physical locations, whether for shopping or offices.  Shouldn’t affordable apartment zoning be required in larger, new developments?
  • A strong advocate for the ZOTA has cited Houston, Texas as an example of a community utilizing the FAR concept. That’s  a peculiar example given that Houston is known for not having  zoning and approving construction in areas with known groundwater flooding problems.  Is this an acceptable example that Lexington should follow?
  • Will the ZOTA require development that is compatible with surrounding residences as recommended in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan? If so, how will that be accomplished?
  • Why was there not more transparency and public participation as the ZOTA moved through the planning process? The ZOTA is significant.

The FCNC does not oppose an increase in FAR or the proposed ZOTA per se.  However, what is built and where can be very detrimental to neighborhoods, particularly when the result is unplanned spot zoning.  Is this our future?

Walt Gaffield, President
Fayette County Neighborhood Council, Inc.