Proposed UDF Has Mixed Success at Taylor Mill Meeting. "Maybe It's Not the Right Fit."

A proposed United Dairy Farmers in Taylor Mill does not look hopeful after the city commission spent almost four hours hashing out the details with the potential owners, Phil and Laurie Peace during a public meeting on Tuesday night.

The couple have wrestled with city officials for over a year on the issue of whether or not Taylor Mill should allow a UDF to be built on their land along the new Kentucky 16, even though the plans for it go against the city's zoning codes for the new Districts of Taylor Mill.

The proposed spot owned by the Peaces is located within Zone 2, which prohibits the store from being built with a setback from the street and also doesn't allow parking or gas pumps in front of the store. The lay of the land, argues Peace, is not suitable for a store to be built along the sidewalk and UDF is unwilling to move the location of their gas pumps to the back of the store.

A large crowd filled the modest meeting room to the point where capacity issues were raised and some residents were kept from entering the meeting once the room was filled. There were multiple times when applause broke out after those who spoke publicly in support of the notion of a new UDF in Taylor Mill. Mayor Dan Bell more than once sternly corrected angry outbursts from the crowd and one man teetered on the edge of police attention when he at first refused to sit down from the podium when the time for public comments had long passed.

To start his presentation, Phil Peace showed video of the Taylor Mill City Commission meeting from May 21 where the mayor and four commissioners unanimously approved that desired text amendments be drafted for submission to the Planning and Zoning Commission. He then said at the meeting on October 15, he was told that the commission no longer supported the changes to the city's zoning text, and wondered publicly what had changed during that time.

“I just want the city to do what they said they were going to do,” Phil Peace said. “I'm trying to get off the dime on this and get rolling with UDF.”

After many lengthy explanations and countless reiterations of the facts, Mayor Bell announced he was moving on to the next agenda item for the night's meeting and did not appear intent on ending the discussion with any kind of ruling, but Mr. and Mrs. Peace demanded an answer on whether the commission will indeed submit his application to the Planning Commission as voted on May 15. Many in the crowd wanted the same action. Peace said that he has spent $18,000 in legal consultation and permits.

Commissioner Dan Murray also stood up for Peace.

“I think we need to give them an answer,” Murray told the Mayor. “I think he deserves an answer tonight. We cost this man $18,000 and I'm willing to cut him some slack because I think we owe him a little bit.”

City Attorney Frank Wichmann clarified the legal language for everyone at hand, and the issue came down to two votes.

The first vote was to determine if Taylor Mill would submit the application of amending text to its zoning code in order for UDF to build its gas station on Peace's land. Before the commission voted, it was emphasized again that once the Planning Commission has reviewed it and either gives a recommendation for it or not, the city could then vote again to actually approve the text amendments to go into effect. The opportunity to review it again should the application arrive on the city commission's desk was enough to convince Commissioner Debby Kreimborg to vote yes and break the 2-2 tie. Bell and Murray voted yes, while Commissioners Ed Kuehne and Roger Reis voted no.

The next vote was to allow the small area of land which the UDF would sit to become its own separate business district within the city. That way, it could have its own zoning codes which UDF could work around. Again Bell and Murray were on board with this and voted yes, but Kreimborg joined the dissenting voice on this one and shot the vote down.

UDF representative Tim Kling was on hand and said that his company may give up the pursuit due to the political climate the commission has fostered around the issue.

“Maybe this isn't the right fit,” he said at the meeting. “Maybe UDF isn't going to fit in Taylor Mill.”

The city's apprehension to allow the text amendments stems fom the fear that if they make special changes for a UDF, they would then set a bad precedent for other businesses to come into the community and disrupt the city's planned downtown. Sustaining a walkable community has become a heavy priority for Taylor Mill and is just one of many concerns it wants to address through their specialized zoning codes.

The downtown is broken up into four distinct business districts, each with its own set of codes.

Kreimborg expressed her anxiety over allowing too many small districts like the one the Peaces sought for their land where the UDF would be built.

“No on District 5, because soon will have District 25,” she said.

Murray was easily the most popular of the panel with the crowd by simply reinforcing the fact that they had already voted to allow the process to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and he couldn't understand the hesitancy to allow that vote to stand.

“UDF is another iconic brand. The same with the two we got down here now (Skyline Chili and LaRosa's Pizza). It's an asset to the city. Do we want to make all of our citizens to go to Latonia for gas?,” Murray asked and received applause from the crowd.

Wichmann, the city attorney, expects the Planning and Zoning Commission to take approximately three months to conclude a public hearing and a recommendation to submit to City Council which they will then vote once and for all if a UDF will someday be built on Peace's land.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Phill Peace talks to the Taylor Mill City Commission