The Lexington Sporting Club wants to remove 147 acres from Newtown Pike and Highways 75 and 64 and turn them into 12 youth soccer fields that can host area youth soccer tournaments.
In addition, the group is also requesting a zoning enactment amendment to allow its proposed $20 million football stadium to be built on land adjacent to proposed youth sports fields that are currently zoned for economic development. The current zoning ordinance does not allow a stadium in an Economic Development Zone.
The land – between Newtown Pike and Russell Cave Road – is owned by Anderson Communities.
But horse trainers and landowners near the property say they are concerned about traffic and noise so close to horse farms.
The Urban County Board of Adjustment will decide whether to grant a conditional use permit for the youth sports fields at 2501 Russell Cave Road at a meeting at 1:30 p.m. on June 28. The council postponed a decision after a hearing lasting more than two hours June 13 where more than 20 people who opposed sports fields for young people were present.
On June 2, a subcommittee of the Urban County Planning Commission postponed the amendment to the zoning law that would allow a stadium in an economic development zone. A second amendment to the zone text that would allow lighting and concessions on the youth sports field was tabled on June 6.
The Planning Commission, which is separate from the Board of Adjustment, will decide whether or not to approve changes to the zoning text. These text changes must also be approved by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Board.
Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities said the town has long needed a youth sports complex. But various attempts over the years have failed. This will also help activate areas near Interstate 64 and Interstate 75.
“It will be clean, safe and well-maintained,” Anderson said. “It will promote health and fitness and sports for young people and promote social interaction. After COVID and social distancing, this will help build community. “
Dick Murphy, a lawyer for Anderson Communities and the Lexington Sporting Club, told the council that the 12 youth sports grounds would host weekend tournaments once or twice a month. People were entering the field from Newtown Pike via Providence Place Parkway.
There will be a second access road to the property, but only for emergency vehicles, he said.
There will be 750 parking spaces, more than the amount required under the zoning ordinance.
Murphy said they needed so many spaces to accommodate multiple teams playing at the same time. Also, teams often show up early before the game, requiring extra parking.
“We won’t be using Russell Cave Road,” Murphy said.
The city master plan, which guides development, provides for a large sports complex for young people. However, previous attempts to locate one in Fayette County have failed, Murphy said.
Vince Gabbert, chairman of Lexington Sporting Club, said the group was looking extensively for a location that could accommodate the youth sports grounds and stadium. The Newtown Pike location was the only one that worked. The group had also responded to a request for proposals to develop the High Street car park opposite the Central Bank Centre. The group ultimately withdrew its proposal from consideration.
Murphy said coach Kenny McPeek, who owns property adjacent to the proposed youth sports fields, supports the project.
But neighbors at the property said they had too many worries and unanswered questions at the June 13 meeting.
The property is currently a training center for horses.
Mort Shirazi said trainers who have horses on the property were only told last month that their leases would be terminated. It’s too late to find room to move these horses. Additionally, there are personnel who live on or near the property who will be uprooted.
“We were given no explanation,” Shirazi said. “We were misled by this group.”
Murphy said Anderson Communities has a lease with a third party for the training facility. This third party then rents the space to the trainers. Due to various legal issues, Anderson Communities was going to terminate the lease with this third party regardless of what happened with the youth sports fields, he said.
Murphy said the location was ideal for the youth sports fields and stadium due to its proximity to two major highways.
But neighbors said traffic was already problematic.
Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm said traffic at the Newtown Pike interchange and I-64 and I-75 “is nothing short of dangerous” right now.
“The amount of traffic this will generate is prohibitive,” Lourie said.
Barbara Poole owns Newton Station Layover, a “horse hotel”, on Newtown Pike. Poole said traffic came to a halt on Newtown Pike around 4:30 p.m. when commuters tried to get onto the freeway.
“We had to stop traffic to get our trailers in,” Poole said. Poole said that in the event of an accident on the freeways, traffic clogs the Newtown and Iron Works pikes.
Other neighbors said things were going too fast.
Jay Ingle, an attorney who represents Fasig Tipton, asked the council to postpone a decision at the June 13 meeting. Fasig Tipton is adjacent to the proposed youth soccer fields. The horse auction house is concerned about various aspects of Lexington Sporting Clubs’ plans, he said.
Anderson and Lexington Sporting Club filed a new site plan on June 10. It also contains various text changes regarding the stadium and youth sports fields that have not yet been considered, Ingle and others said.
“It’s not a small change. This is a major shift in this area,” Ingle said. Ingle said Fasig Tipton was concerned about the lighting permit on the property and wanted more details.
Brittany Roethemeier, executive director of Alliance Fayette, which represents the interests of farmland owners, said the proposed youth sports grounds and stadium are too commercial for an agricultural area.
“Furthermore, while outdoor recreation facilities are listed as a conditionally permitted use in the AR (agricultural) zone, the language, notably, does not include football pitches,” Roethemeir said. “This is a significant concern for surrounding farms.”
Mike Owens, a former member of the planning commission, agreed.
“There is now a viable training center. This is not underutilized land,” Owens said. “Horses and intensive non-agricultural uses do not mix.
Anderson said it will take months for zoning changes to the youth sports field and stadium to go through the planning commission.
“There will be plenty of opportunities for audience participation,” Anderson said.
Murphy said that if the board of adjustment approves the conditional use permit for the youth sports grounds, Lexington Sporting Club hopes to start using the grounds as early as February. Lexington Sporting Club recently took over two youth football programs and has over 1,500 children in its program.
This story was originally published June 21, 2022 10:40 a.m.