Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Distillery. (file photo)

The Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission approved what is likely to be the conclusion of negotiations with a firm for the comprehensive master plan, but that wasn’t all that took place last week.

The commission also approved a significant expansion to the list of zones that would allow for residential recovery facilities and heard a hearing on a proposed expansion to the continually growing Buffalo Trace. 

An amendment to the zoning ordinance would allow for residential recovery facilities to take place in most residential zoning districts as well as office, commercial districts and industrial districts.

The request came from Mark and Melissa Deaton, of Deaton & Deaton Counseling in West Frankfort. Per the Franklin County PVA, a company they own holds a large rural tract in the far western reach of the county.

Mark Deaton described his intended use for the zoning ordinance change to be for such a rural setting.

“The patients can be involved in more therapeutic outdoor activities that involve raising animals, growing gardens, outdoor life in wooded areas,” Deaton said. "It’s about having them away from an inner city or a more populated setting in a less populated city so they can focus more on their treatment. They’re around fewer areas where there is increased crime or drugs or so many visitors.”

An attorney representing the Deatons, Josh Harp, said that one frustration with the current code was that the only heading for organizations like theirs to be allowed would be under “charitable, indigent limited care facility.” He indicated that the Deaton’s business would be for-profit, and not exclusively for those who are economically distressed.

“The war on substance abuse has taken many forms,” Harp said. “And there are a number of different kinds of organizations that have developed a number of different approaches. Some of those are by for-profit organizations, and some of those are very successful… And, I think we can all recognize that substance abuse simply does not plague only the impoverished.”

Though some members of the commission were at first puzzled by the laundry list of zoning districts, and the potential for a recovery facility to pop up in a home near other homes, the change got approval via 6-1 vote. In response to some of those concerns, Franklin County Planning Supervisor Ben Judah said that specific uses such as the Deatons’ would have to go before the Board of Zoning Adjustments for approval.

Sweger, who is the newest appointee on the board, was the only "no" vote. He said that he felt the amendment was “half baked.”

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace is looking to expand its warehousing operations north of Lewis Ferry Road, as a public hearing was held last Thursday to change a 53-acre property owned by Ellis Carter from from an agricultural district to industrial general zoning. The zoning change would allow for three new storage warehouses to be built near the site of the former Dobner farm, on which the company is completing its 15th warehouse.

Franklin County Planning & Zoning Director Robert Hewitt said that it appears that, because of the roughly 53-acre property’s topography, the company will only have space on the property for the three warehouses it’s currently planning to build.

Two property owners spoke up against the rezoning, claiming that the warehouse construction could hurt their property values as well as their rural way of life. Lisa Lee, who lives on Manley-Leestown Road, said that she bought her house because of the “peace and quiet” it afforded her.

“What I have an issue with is my peace and quiet being destroyed,” Lee said. “… I don't want those warehouses right in front of me when I come down the driveway. Nobody is gonna want to sit and look at those warehouses when they're sitting on their porch, and it's going to impact the resale value of my home.”

Bonnie Tracy echoed Lee’s points about property value and not wanting to look at warehouses.

When asked about the timeline for construction of new warehouses, Jones said that the three structures would take approximately a year. He added that it’s generally taken the company about three or four months to complete a new warehouse of late.

Planning Commission Chair Sherron Jackson said that the item for the zoning change would be placed for action at its next meeting.

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