UDF Project in Taylor Mill Subject of Another Confrontation at City Meeting
For the past couple of years, Phil Peace has fought publicly with the City of Taylor Mill over his wishes to sell a piece of property along Pride Parkway to United Dairy Farmers which would build a gas station and convenience store with its famous ice cream. However, the the company's design plans and property use do not match the image that the city has adopted for its efforts to construct a downtown.
The UDF project has appeared before the city commission multiple times, and has been rejected each time.
During a rare Friday evening special meeting of the city commission, Peace returned to the city building to discuss a recent article published in The River City News about Taylor Mill's commitment to its vision for the downtown district.
Peace took issue with comments made by City Administrator Jill Bailey in the article that said that the new Trifecta development which houses Skyline Chili, LaRosa's, Greater's Ice Cream, and Golf Exchange as being the example of what the city looks for in terms of meeting the zoning regulations of Taylor Mill. Peace claims that Trifecta could not meet the minimum acreage requirements, did not provide enough parking spaces, or have 30 feet of spacing across the rear line of the property. He said that the city allowed the zoning amendments so that the project could proceed.
No one, he said, ever came before the commission to ask for the zoning changes.
Bailey disputed the claims that the Holland Rosen Restaurant Group, which developed the Trifecta property (the first of the new Districts of Taylor Mill), did not have enough acreage for the project, that they did not have enough parking spaces, and that they did not ask for the variance of a 30-foot buffer on the rear line.
Peace's main qualm on Friday was that he has enough acreage for development on his property in Taylor Mill, but he believes that the city is intentionally not directing developers to him in order to build on his plot after the UDF showdown that transpired during multiple commission meetings that ultimately prevented the gas station from being approved for the zoning amendments he needed.
“Ms. Bailey used to send developers to me regularly, but then UDF happened. All lines of communication have gone dead,” he said. “She's even told me not to speak to the commission and that I should only do it through attorneys.”
In terms of speaking through attorneys, Bailey said that once Peace brought his attorney into the situation, the city had to do likewise and allow legal representation to communicate between the two sides. She called Peace argumentative and adversarial as part of the reason why communications broke down in the zone amendment hearings.
“Unfortunately, when you drag attorneys into it, that's just the nature of the beast after that,” Bailey said. “That was a safety guard for us, as well as for you.”
Bailey said that she still refers developers to Peace, but that she thinks that they find him difficult and argumentative as well.
“I can't make developers contact you,” she said. “I give your information just as readily as anybody else's, but they're telling me they reached out to you and have been unsuccessful in negotiating with you.”
Taylor Mill resident Mike Blackburn independently researched the possibility of the city using solar-powered lights for their project to install 56 streetlights along Kentucky 16. Some of the benefits of using solar-powered lights that Blackburn cited include the lack of electrical costs of the 25 years that the lights would last, which would equate to over $100,000 of utility cost savings, he estimated, and the ability of the city's maintenance department to perform repairs rather than an electrician. Additionally, he argued, solar-powered lights would stay on during a power outage and would not require underground wiring.
Blackburn installs solar-powered electric apparatus as part of his business.
Taylor Mill's lighting consultant Laurie Emery said that the LED lights that the city chose are well below normal streetlights in both voltage and power. The selected lighting also follows all of the specifications put in place by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and solar-powered lights do not. In addition to the KTC requirements, Taylor Mill is also within a flight zone which means the Federal Aviation Administration had to approve each light pole.
Another drawback that Emery cited was that this area of the country does not harvest enough available sunlight in order to adequately power so many streetlights.
Permits for the streetlights are only required for state-owned roads, so Mayor Dan Bell said that adding solar-powered streetlights on city-owned posts remain a possibility in the future.
City Engineer Mark Brueggemann said that a crew has completed a topographic survey of Rust Road to stem the severe erosion of Cold Spring Creek. It was reported that the water is as close as four feet from the pavement. Brueggeman anticipated that construction would begin in May and hopefully be completed by the end of summer or early fall.