City’s comprehensive plan clears one hurdle, more legal challenges likely

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington’s 16-month-old comprehensive plan has cleared one legal hurdle but more challenges likely loom.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove dismissed a federal lawsuit, saying home builders couldn’t claim harm when they hadn’t tried to abide by the plan, which was adopted in February 2019.

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The comprehensive plan is meant to guide growth and development in the city and county for the next five years, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

According to federal court documents, the Building Industry Association of Central Kentucky — the Home Builders Association — challenged the plan in state court in March 2019, the newspaper reported.

According to court documents, the suit argued the plan didn’t coincide with state law governing zoning, was vague, confusing, and “ambiguous.” The association said the language made it difficult for its members to understand how to file zoning change requests, which could delay or block projects.

The association cited a case where Ball Homes couldn’t file a zoning change because of the confusing language. Ultimately that change was approved, according to court documents, and according to Van Tatenhove’s ruling, the company never tried to apply for a change using the new rules.

After initially being filed in Circuit Court, the case was moved to federal court.

“While the BIA is disappointed in the court’s ruling, we must stress that the federal court did not address the BIA’s claims that the Comprehensive Plan is unlawful,” Nick Nicholson, a lawyer for the Building Industry Association, told the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper. “Instead, the court simply determined it couldn’t review the legality at this time.”

“The federal court’s decision likely ensures that another legal action will be filed in state court as regards the lawfulness of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan,” Nicholson told the newspaper. “The 2018 Comprehensive Plan does not serve the best interests of the community.”