After the Madison County Fiscal Court voted to deny a zone change on Moberly Road in August, Jack VanWinkle, the owner of the 80-acre property he hoped to develop, is appealing the vote by suing the court, the planning commission and each member individually.
Although he received unanimous consent from the Madison County Planning and Zoning Commission for the change, the court overruled it, denying it last month from being rezoned from R-7 (rural/agriculture) to R-1 (single-family residential) with the potential of building a new subdivision.
VanWinkle, who has lived in the county his whole life, filed seven counts of violation in his appeal, arguing that the court's reasoning for denying the zone change was arbitrary, failed to meet the requirements of KRS 100.213, was not based on evidence and violates Louisville v. McDonald (1971), to name a few.
"I'm entitled to due process," VanWinkle said. "They singled me out, and I am entitled to do this development. … The magistrates decided to roll the dice, and now they have a lawsuit."
Magistrates Larry Combs, Roger Barger, John Tudor and Tom Botkin all voted to deny the zoning classification change with concerns back in early August, saying the property had extensive existing watershed issues and would increase traffic if developed. County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor voted in favor of the zone change.
VanWinkle had several representatives, including a surveyor and real estate attorney, present at the meeting supporting his proposal.
In addition to the above "findings of fact" as to why the magistrates voted no, members of the Madison County Fair Board spoke in opposition, asking why someone would want to develop homes near the fairgrounds, which is owned by the fair board.
VanWinkle stated in his opinion, there should be no reason for the fairgrounds to be involved as it is not county property.
"The fairgrounds have been there 30 years, and I am not doing anything to jeopardize anything they are doing there, and it would be there another 30 years," he said.
In the wake of the fiscal court trying to find any source of revenue to help fund a new jail, they opted to raise the property tax in order to do so. But VanWinkle said that with his potential new residential development, the county would have received $40 million in tax revenue once developed.
"I am all for development and that everyone should be treated equal. I am for any development anywhere," he said. "There should be rules set that they follow -- the same rules -- so no one should be singled out or treated differently than anyone else. In the 20 years that my engineer has gone through the zone change process, he has never seen one turned down that has had a unanimous vote from a planning commission.
"They had their mind made up before we walked into that room."
Perhaps VanWinkle's biggest argument is that the proposed development falls in accordance with the county's comprehensive plan and stated with the rising increase in population, the county will be forced to develop.
The county's 2015 comprehensive plan stated the county's then population of 87,340 residents "is projected to increase by more than 33,000 people over the next 30 years. As such that means some 13,000+ housing units would need to be constructed to meet this demand."
As of 2017, the county's population was around 91,226 people, documents from the lawsuit stated.
VanWinkle said that nearly 20 to 25 years ago, previous courts approved sewer and water lines to be built, which would make way for later development.
"I have water and sewer lines and road, I have multiple ways of ingress and regress, much more than other places," he said. "The area included is included in the comprehensive plan, and so is this property. They knew it would be developed in the years to come, and that is why the county set up sewer on this property. If they think that this 80 acres will not be developed, they are delirious."
Now that litigation is pending, VanWinkle said that the next step is to wait for a response from the county, and "the ball is in their court."
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.