Growing Successful Neighborhoods
Successful neighborhoods are the building blocks of a desirable community. Lexington’s neighborhoods, and more importantly the neighbors themselves, make up the foundation of the city. Creating diversity within these neighborhoods is key to their long-term sustainability and success. Diversity within housing types, housing affordability, land uses, transportation options, and recreational opportunities is crucial, as is creating welcoming spaces for people of all races, ethnicities, and age groups.
Lexington is undeniably a growing city, and it is important to ensure that this growth results in community. This continued urbanization needs to be properly managed, and great care should be taken to guarantee existing neighborhoods are enhanced by this growth. Consciously and carefully directed growth and development will strengthen already successful neighborhoods and create vibrant new ones with a high standard of design and a focus on community-building amenities.
Where are we now?
Lexington’s neighborhoods are among the community’s strongest assets. The historic downtown areas, the traditional suburban single-family neighborhoods, and the more recent mixed-use developments are all part of the landscape. Historically, Lexington’s neighborhood development has focused on the separation of uses in order to minimize potential conflict. However, many progressive and developing cities are starting to move past this traditional practice with the implementation of form-based codes, design criteria, and more modern mixed-use zones.
Recently, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods are popular among the two fastest-growing age groups in Lexington, young professional-aged residents and senior citizens. Imagine Lexington hopes to reinforce this trend to offer a variety of options to Lexington residents. Providing these mixed-use and mixed-housing type developments will supplement existing successful neighborhoods throughout Lexington and diversify the housing stock.
Vision for Neighborhoods
As Lexington continues to evolve, it is important to develop in a way that builds community. Development which may accomplish goals of infill, density, and utilization of underutilized property, but does not meet the other goals of the Comprehensive Plan, is not desirable, and would be a missed opportunity to simultaneously grow and enhance the community.
One of the major shifts in the 2013 Comprehensive Plan was the exclusion of a future land use map for the first time. While many were concerned, the Planning Commission thought it important to provide flexibility and allow innovative development solutions. Imagine Lexington further refines the concept and provides additional focus on the policies that will shape proposed developments. Design plays a large role in this and takes on additional emphasis in this plan. Ensuring context-sensitive design that follows best practices and provides quality opportunities to enjoy greenspace and open space will create successful neighborhoods.
Design Policy #1 - Utilize a People-First Design
People-first neighborhood design requires the provision of transit/transportation infrastructure that places pedestrians, bicycle riders and mass transit users on the same level as automobiles. Mass transit infrastructure should be considered essential.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #2 - Fire & Police Service Access
There is often opposition to connecting roads between developments, as residents believe that the increased traffic will negatively affect their property. However, it is important to note that there are many benefits to the increased connectivity that further the health, safety, and welfare of the community.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #3 - Multi-Family Design Standards
In the Winburn Small Area plan, design standards were created in order to address neighborhood concerns and to ensure that many of the problems historically created through poor design would not be repeated in the future. READ MORE >>
Design Policy #4 - Context Sensitive Development
Context-sensitive development is compatible and complementary to adjacent neighborhoods and communities. It enhances the existing neighborhoods through land uses and development patterns that are sensitive to the nearby built and natural environments.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #5 - Pedestrian Friendly
Street design matters. Creating a neighborhood environment that is not only able to be walked, but is actually inviting and walkable is vital to providing a safe way for people to move from place to place.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #6 - Lexington Area MPO Bike/Ped Master Plan
The 2018 Bike/Pedestrian Plan, called ConnectLex, envisions “a network of high quality walkways and bikeways that connects communities and fosters economic growth and regional collaboration. People of all ages and abilities will have access to comfortable and convenient walking and biking routes, resulting in true mobility choice, improved economic opportunity, and healthier lifestyles.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #7 - Parking Design Aesthetics
New residential development should minimize the visual appearance of parking lots on streets to preserve that space for use that will activate the front yards and sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists. This can be achieved by placing parking lots to the rear or interior of the site, so that the building fronts along a public street.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #8 - Provide Varied Housing
By providing housing choices within a neighborhood, residents of a community have greater options of where to live, particularly when the components of housing choice include access to jobs and schools, affordability, and housing type. Diverse neighborhoods feature town-homes, apartments,condominiums and duplex housing adjacent to and mixed with single-family homes. READ MORE >>
Design Policy #9 - Provide Adequate Greenspace
Greenspace is key to successful neighborhoods. It has the benefits of improving air quality, providing social interactions, and improving public health. An interconnected and accessible greenspace system consisting of vibrant and attractive public spaces, healthy natural areas and plentiful recreational opportunities create neighborhoods where people want to live.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #10 - Neighborhood Focal Points
Neighborhood focal points can be a gathering space such as a park, greenspace, a shopping center, a community center or public square. To the extent possible, new residential development should be developed with new focal points in mind by allowing for easy, multimodal access from the neighborhood instead of development that turns its back on the community hub. READ MORE >>
Design Policy #11 - Utilize Single Loaded Streets
Even passive greenspace requires clear, visible access in order to fulfill the needs of a neighborhood. A focal point should be clearly delineated from private lots in order to be welcoming to all residents. Development of focal points on single loaded streets removes any opportunity for them to be tucked away unsafely in the backyards of private homes. READ MORE >>
Design Policy #12 - Neighborhood Commercial
In many neighborhoods developed decades ago, the commercial areas designated to serve as neighborhood focal points have become poorly utilized or have slowly deteriorated and need additional investment. Proactively rezoning these sites from Neighborhood Business (B-1) to Commercial Center Zone (B-6P) would afford new flexibility at a neighborhood scale.READ MORE >>
Design Policy #13 - Connect to Stub Streets
Connected streets provide direct, continuous routes and multiple route options. This reduces response times for emergency vehicles and improves access and efficiency for transit, school buses, and service vehicles, including solid waste trucks and street sweepers. Creating a robust street system with multiple routes to neighborhood destinations is unquestionably a best planning practice.READ MORE >>
Lexington residents overwhelmingly prefer to maintain the Urban Service Boundary (USB) in its current location, requiring development within the USB to be more compact and efficient as the city grows. Roughly 90% of the area within the boundary is currently developed, so Lexington must make the most of the remaining 10%, as well as maximize redevelopment efforts.
This more compact development pattern has inherent benefits to the community, beyond simply preserving agricultural land. It provides for more efficient use of infrastructure, walkable spaces, enhanced transit options, affordable housing opportunities, and numerous environmental benefits.
Infill, which occurs when vacant land is developed within the Boundary, is often met with resistance from adjoining neighborhoods; residents cite traffic, density, and loss of greenspace as some of their reasons for opposition. While many of the concerns are legitimate, this plan seeks to correct those issues through design.
Density Policy #1 - High Density Corridors & Downtown
Given Lexington’s ever-increasing population, the community’s expressed desire to create exciting walkable places, and the goal of preserving valuable agricultural land, density is very important. However, high density development is not appropriate in every context. As stressed within the “Design” vision and policies, density should address the context of its surroundings.READ MORE >>
Density Policy #2 - Infill Residential & Context Sensitivity
In areas where the preservation of existing neighborhood design characteristics is of high importance, infill residential should apply the recurring building patterns of the area. It is wholly possible to add residential units while matching the consistent rhythm of existing development, so that the new seamlessly blends in with the old. READ MORE >>
Density Policy #3 - Supportive Neighborhood Uses
Ideal neighborhoods include not only a mix of housing types, but also a mix of uses, including neighborhood-serving businesses and opportunities for work and leisure. Incorporating more of these uses into existing neighborhoods as well as new developments should be encouraged.READ MORE >>
Density Policy #4 - Density to Support Transit
This plan recommends that the highest density development should be concentrated toward the major corridors and downtown to facilitate transit-oriented development that would begin to support Bus Rapid Transit opportunities. READ MORE >>
Density Policy #5 - Accessory Dwelling Units
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is defined as a second, smaller detached dwelling on the same property, or one that is attached to an existing single-family house, such as a basement or over-the-garage apartment. As Lexington continues to grow, ADUs can play a role in meeting the overall housing demand.READ MORE >>
Density Policy #6 - Compact Single-Family Housing
Lexington needs more housing of all types as its population continues to grow. The 2017 Housing Demand Study shows that single-family residential options continue to be popular and will be for the foreseeable future.READ MORE >>
Equity and equality sound similar, but are different concepts. Equality means sameness, while equity refers to access and opportunity. To the extent that public policy can eliminate the opportunity gap for Lexington’s underprivileged, it should, acknowledging that the private market does not typically address it unless incentivized or regulated.
Lexington’s housing policies can and should address displacement caused by the market forces of gentrification. Because regulations are unable to react at the pace of these market forces, efforts are best focused providing housing for everyone, in all areas of the city. Ensuring an adequate supply of units, and more importantly, creating the regulatory framework to allow it, should help alleviate the effects of market-driven gentrification.
Equity policies also address transit, code enforcement, and providing at-risk citizens access to needed services: essential community facilities, age-friendly residential options, and walkable neighborhoods.
Equity Policy #1 - Housing for All Income Levels
This Comprehensive Plan does not seek to be antagonistic toward growth and new residential development; on the contrary, continued growth is vitally important and Lexington should encourage intense (re)development in the most appropriate areas to provide housing for all.READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #2 - Affordable Fair Housing
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) is a legal requirement that federal agencies and federal grantees further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act.READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #3 - Up-Zone near Transit
In transit opportunity areas identified in subsequent corridor studies, the government should consider up-zoning properties to allow and encourage more intense uses that support transit. Where neighborhoods already exist along these corridors, appropriate transitions and step-downs should be used, but should not otherwise deter development of additional housing. READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #4 - Land Bank, Community Land Trust, Vacant Land Commission
Previous Comprehensive Plans laid the groundwork for the currently existing program infrastructure to serve our affordable housing needs. Subsequent steps need to address the ongoing funding and identify methods for making sure these programs reach the critical mass of assets needed to become self-sufficient. READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #5 - Improve Code Enforcement Policies
A rental property registration program to proactively address substandard housing conditions would help alleviate the current culture where residents are wary of contacting Code Enforcement to report violations for fear that they may lose the roof over their head. Louisville, Covington, and Erlanger have all taken this proactive approach to this serious issue.READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #6 - Senior Housing though ADUs
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) provide significant opportunities for older residents to age in place. They allow them to retain their properties through subsidizing their incomes with rental revenue, while they continue to inhabit the property.READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #7 - Integrated Community Facilities
School sites should be appropriately sized for the needs of the community and designed to be an integral part of the community, rather than sequestered and closed off. Ensuring neighborhood access to these sites is important, so they can act as community-building entities.READ MORE >>
Equity Policy #8 - Universal Design Principles
In order to support aging in place and recognize the increasing senior housing need, Universal Design principles should be incorporated into neighborhood developments where possible. Seven principles were developed by a diverse group of professional designers to create environments that are easily accessible, understood, and used by as many people as possible.READ MORE >>