OP-ED: Planning Commission Vote Falls Short of Council’s Mandate for Including Land to be Developed for Homes & Jobs

By Ray Daniels, Lexington For Everyone Board Chair

The Lexington Urban County Council, our elected local lawmakers who represent every neighborhood in our community, voted 13-2 to make available 2,700 to 5,000 acres for homes and jobs. This overwhelming consensus is a legally binding mandate from the most diverse council in our community’s history.

Instead, a majority of Planning Commission members approved an expansion map of less than 2,200 acres once land with floodplains, existing businesses, and homes are removed from the total.

These members ignored the expert direction from planning staff, who advised them that already developed industrial land (Blue Sky) and other land not adjacent to the current land use boundary could not be counted as part of the 2,700 minimum acres required.

As a result, the expansion map contains 20 percent fewer acres than the minimum required by the Council’s mandate. It also removed dozens of acres that were ready to be developed for housing along the Interstate and Winchester Road, where two large health-care facilities are locating. That land was an ideal location for people to live in close proximity to hundreds of newly created jobs.

The Planning Commission vote also discounted the overwhelming agreement by the workgroup created by that same Planning Commission. The workgroup, which included affordable housing advocates, agriculture and horse farm owners as well as building and business representatives, spent weeks analyzing data and hearing from experts about where best to expand.

The drastic reduction in new land undercuts the stability and well-being of our families and our community.

The median home price in Lexington is $322,000, which has risen 100 percent in 10 years, according to Bluegrass REALTORS. That puts home buying, which is the best way to build generational wealth, out of reach for a majority of Lexingtonians.

In addition, Lexington had the seventh highest rent increase in the nation in 2022. If people can’t afford to buy a home or rent here, where will they go? They’ll move out of Lexington and take their tax dollars with them.

It’s no wonder Lexington recently lost population for the first time in our lifetimes. This alarming statistic is often an early signal that a community can be on the decline. It also will result in city budget troubles in the near future with tax increases or cuts in essential services.

We urge Council members to maintain close scrutiny over the process to ensure it follows the law they passed and leads to a community that truly is a Lexington that provides opportunity and advancement for everyone.

Ray Daniels serves as the chair of Lexington for Everyone, which promotes equitable and affordable living and working opportunities for all by advocating for sensible and inclusive land use policies that protect our scenic beauty, strengthen our workforce, foster economic vitality, and advance Lexington’s unique history and cultural diversity – so that it becomes a place where everybody belongs. He is president of Equity Solutions Group and a Thoroughbred horse owner. Visit for more information.