Industrial concerns dominate city commission meeting

Published 8:56 am Friday, September 23, 2022

In a meeting that drew local and out-of-town attention, the Winchester Board of Commissioners met at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday for an earlier-than-usual meeting.

Each room seat was filled largely by a contingent of Winchester residents who had signed a petition raising concerns about the property bought by Stuff Recycling at 101 7th Street.

“We, the residents and other adjacent neighborhoods, strongly disagree with the opening of the Stuff Recycling Plant,” said Patrick Yocum in an opening statement. “Stuff [Recycling] has chosen to be detrimental in promoting high-pollution environments which may cause respiratory illness and other ailments.”

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Other individuals addressed not only potential health concerns but issues surrounding the effects on local businesses, streets, and more. They suggested operations should not take place in a residential area.

Addressing the concerns was Jerry Joiner, owner of Stuff Recycling.

“Stuff Properties purchased the property as what we were hoping would be a great business opportunity to do something with the future of that facility,” he said. “As I’m sitting in front of the board today … we have zero intentions of running any truck traffic or anything up and down 7th Street. We had zero intentions of opening up a scrap yard … At this point, I have no idea what we’re going to do.”

Robert Jeffries, director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Winchester, spoke of how he would not currently recommend a full recycling plant at the location.

The property at 101 7th Street is currently categorized as an I-1 Light Industrial Zone, whereas the conditions associated with a recycling plant would fall under an I-2 Heavy Industrial Zone category.

Clarifying, Mayor Ed Burtner added, “The property is not zoned for an industrial center, which would require an I-2 Zone. It would require a zone change which would have to be ratified by the Commission after a public hearing, and that change would then have to come over here before the City Commission. There has been no application that I’m aware of.”

The city commission has not taken action on this issue as of this writing. More updates will be provided as this story develops.

Real Estate Taxes

Bob Casher, a public administration specialist for Bluegrass Area Development District, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

Because of real property growth, the tax rate has been reduced from 13.8% to 12.6%.

“That’s a benefit to the taxpayer. Their taxes will be less this year on their real estate”, said City Manager Mike Flynn. “What it means for the city is [that] the revenue generated will be just a few thousand dollars more than what it was last year, but the increase in the revenue is due to the fact…[That] the tax assessment was larger than the previous year.”

As the community has developed, the total amount of real property has grown by about $140 to $150 million, registering at approximately $1.5 billion currently. In effect, this drives down the tax rate.

Main Street Winchester

Main Street Winchester will change as it looks to serve the community as it withdraws from the Kentucky Main Street Program.

Rachel Boyd, the executive director of Main Street Winchester, wrote a request to do such.

The motion passed with unanimous approval.

The following steps will require additional changes. Some considerations thus far have been reducing the size of the board, having event-driven committees, and serving roles similar to that of an event marketing coordinator for the city of Winchester.

Further plans and ideas continue to be discussed, and the code of ordinances will be amended accordingly.

LED Lights

LED lighting is going to be installed at several downtown crosswalks.

Seven different streetlights will be impacted by the project in the name of increasing safety.

“The bulkheads at the top of the light…they’ll be changing those bulkheads out from the current sodium-type fixtures and putting LED fixtures there”, Flynn said. “I think it illuminates about seven to eight thousand more lumens of light compared to what’s there.”

The action is also designed to address bulb-outs, which have been noted at locations including Wall Alley and Lexington Avenue.