City approves parts of soccer park expansion

Published 10:27 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Winchester Youth Soccer League got part of its requested expansion approved but not without opposition from neighboring property owners.

WYSL officials wanted to add additional parking on the northern edge of the site on Van Meter Road, add practice fields to the southern part of the property and build a storage building to house maintenance equipment.

After an hour of discussion during the Winchester Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the storage building. The building was requested as the house on the property, which was for storage, is being converted to bathrooms and a concession stand.

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The commissioners voted 3-1 to  add practice fields, provided they are as far back from the road as possible and that practice be limited to 5 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and that WYSL continues looking for other practice sites.

Commissioner Rick Beach voted against it because there was no end date for the “temporary” agreement, and Commissioner Kitty Strode was not present.

The parking request was denied, since the soccer league had not installed the 240 parking spaces lined out in the agreement with the city and property owners ratified in 2007.

All three requests were approved by the planning commission as being in compliance with the comprehensive plan. Last week, the Winchester-Clark County Parks Board tabled any action until the city commission acted on it.

John Hendricks, an attorney representing WYSL, said there was a sense of urgency as the spring season starts in a matter of weeks.

“We’ve got to get this moving if we’re going to be ready for this season,” he said. League participation has doubled from about 250 children in 2007 when the complex opened to more than 500 in 2017, he said.

Mark Mayer, who farms property adjacent to the soccer complex, wanted the city to stick with the original 2007 plan, which was the result of extended negotiations between the league, the city, Winchester Municipal Utilities (which owns the land) and others. That plan did not include practice fields or parking on the north edge of the site. Mayer was also concerned about increased traffic on the road as well as not having a buffer between active farms and the fields.

Other property owners were concerned about the lack of proper notice that any changes were proposed. One of them, Earl Robbins, said he received no notice at all. Others said notices were sent to the property address, rather than their residential address.

Those against the project were also concerned about opening the door for future expansion of the soccer park.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said he understood both sides, but said circumstances have changed in the course of the last decade. Still, the original agreement and plat should be followed before seeking additional parking, he said.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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