Update on Nicholasville H-1 Overlay: Denied

Jessamine County Courthouse - Nicholasville, Ky.
Jessamine Co. Courthouse -
Nicholasville, Ky.
On July 22, the Nicholasville Planning Commission voted 8-1 to deny an application by the Nicholasville Historic Preservation Commission which sought to apply a zoning overlay over certain properties in Nicholasville’s downtown core which includes residential, commercial, and religious structures.

It was the second hearing on the matter as the June hearing saw the motion tabled.

Opponents to the zoning overlay outnumbered the proponents at each hearing, though each side was passionate. Opponents derided the potential loss of their property rights. Several property owners sought to “opt out” of the proposed zone.

From this preservationist’s perspective, however, the zoning overlay did not extend far enough. The boundaries should have included more properties that have historic integrity and contribute to the fabric of our county seat. (Disclosure: I spoke in favor of the zoning overlay at the June hearing.) Both meetings were contentious.

Additionally, the restrictions on the properties in the proposed overlay did not go far enough in preserving architectural features and components.

Even so, the proposed overlay was a good step forward toward establishing a meaningful layer of protection over Nicholasville’s historic center.

The zoning restrictions, if enacted, would have required a review by a commission of appointed persons for issues related to demolition, structural additions, or property relocation.

Despite the hyperbole, the zoning overlay would not have required approval for a change of paint color or the installation of “giant styrofoam pyramids” in a front yard.

The ordinance would have, however, been a small but necessary step to prevent future gaping holes in our streetscape like the one on the eastern side of the 100 block of South Main Street.

But in the end, a handful of procedural issues may have damaged this attempt at a zoning overlay beyond repair.

But that doesn’t mean it is down for the count. As was best said in a letter to the editor in support of the overlay, “downtown Nicholasville is unique to Kentucky and worth preserving.”

It is because of this uniqueness that I would expect to see another push for the zoning overlay in the future.

When it does, I hope that it will be successful and that it will include a larger footprint as well as more restrictions geared toward retaining the architectural heart of our town.

This column originally appeared in the Jessamine Journal
It should not be republished without permission.