By Beth Musgraves
Wawa will soon be coming to Lexington. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council voted 11-1 Tuesday to approve a zone change from a highway business zone and agricultural zone to a community development zone for a Wawa, apartments, townhouses and a restaurant off of Athens Boonesboro Road near Jacobson Park. Neighbors of the 4075 Old Richmond Road project opposed the zone change, saying the apartments and townhomes were too large and traffic in the area was already problematic. Dozens of people spoke against the zone change during the four-hour meeting.
The Urban County Planning Commission voted 8-2 in August to approve the zone change for approximately 8 acres. The city’s planning staff recommended approval of the zone change. Anderson Communities’ proposal includes townhouses and five, four-story tall apartment buildings on the property for a total of 139 living units. The property, which also fronts Athens Boonesboro Road, would have a convenience store and gas station on the Athens Boonesboro Road side as well as a restaurant. The plans call for 184 parking spaces.
Wawa, which started in Wawa, Penn., is known for its food and coffee, selling more coffee per day than Starbucks, Wawa officials have said. Hoagies and sub sandwiches also are top sellers. There will be eight gas pumps.
A Wawa has been approved in northern Jessamine County. Another store has been approved in Louisville. Wawa has said it plans to open 40 stores in Kentucky over the next eight to 10 years, said Lisa Corpus, a Wawa representative. “We have a cult-like following,” she said. The apartment buildings would be located toward the center and back of the property, said Dick Murphy, a lawyer for Anderson Communities. The two-story townhomes will be on the perimeter of the property. A restaurant has not yet been named, he said. Murphy said they have reduced the number of apartments due to concerns from neighbors. There will be a swimming pool, dog park, indoor fitness facility, a central lawn and walking trails.
The 2018 Comprehensive Plan recommends more dense developments along major corridors, Murphy said. The roughly 8 acres is in the expansion area, which was part of the more than 5,000 acres added to the urban service boundary in 1996. The community center zone in the expansion area allows for a mix of commercial and residential development. TRAFFIC CHANGES The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which oversees Athens Boonesboro Road, is proposing putting an “R”-cut at the intersection of Athens Boonesboro Road and Aphids Way. The R-cuts are designed for right-turns only, city engineers said. People leaving Aphids Way will only be able to turn right toward the interstate. A signaled intersection not far from the Aphids Way R-cut will allow people to make a U-turn back to town. There will be two entrances into the Anderson development from Aphids Way, Murphy said. As part of the transportation cabinet plans, Aphids Way will be re-aligned and widened.
Alston Kerr, who lives in the area, said the neighborhood has pushed back against the state’s proposal to put in R-cuts. The traffic into and out of the development is based on those R-cuts going in. “I think it’s going to go on pause,” Kerr said of the state’s proposed changes at Athens Boonesboro Road.
‘ENCROACHMENT’ OR ‘NEEDED MIDDLE HOUSING’?
Daniel Crum, a senior planner, said the expansion area master plan can be changed. Many properties in the expansion areas have asked for different zone types than what was listed in the 1996 expansion area maps.
The 2018 Comprehensive Plan and the expansion area master plan must be looked at together, Crum said. Councilwoman Kathy Plomin said the area is a “gateway from the city of Lexington to our rural area.” Plomin was the only member to vote against the zone change. Plomin represents much of the area. “It’s an encroachment on the rural area,” Plomin said. Councilwoman Whitney Elliott Baxter said it’s an infill project within the urban services area. “This property has frontage on a major corridor,” Baxter said. Baxter said people want more housing but Fayette County can’t provide it because people are opposed to so many infill projects. “I won’t be intimidated by anybody,” Baxter said.
Councilman Preston Worley said the land is part of the 1996 expansion area that has not been developed. “This provides more housing while respecting the neighborhood,” Worley said, who lives in a nearby neighborhood. “We need housing of all types.”