Youth soccer fields approved by Lexington’s Board of Adjustment

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The Lexington Sporting Club has approval to make 12 soccer fields between Newtown Pike and Interstates 75 and 64

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – After nearly 6 hours of debate from those in the horse industry and those in support of the soccer fields, 12 youth fields were approved by the urban county’s Board of Adjustment with a 6-1 vote.

Susan Straub with the city of Lexington says the 12 youth soccer fields are now fully approved, but the Lexington Sporting Club’s (LSC) soccer stadium and lights text amendments will move through the Planning Commission and Urban County Council later this summer.

The land that LSC wants to use for its youth soccer fields includes many horse farms and training areas off Russell Cave Road as well as being a stone’s throw from Fasig-Tipton. The proposal included 60 acres between off Newtown Pike and Interstates 75 and 64.

Tuesday, much debate was had over the use of agricultural land for commercial use. Harry Clarke on the board giving impassioned remarks regarding the sanctity of Lexington’s bluegrass.

“Our precious identity says to the world that we do not value growth for gross sake, rather we value the special land we have been deeded by history,” says Clarke.

Some farm owners say the proposal is only a few short amendments away from being something that will disrupt their operations, amendments they say could add things like lights in parking lots which would be needed at night. Others in the equine industry say beyond disruption, the soccer fields could have an economic impact on Lexington’s horse industry, particularly the land.

“Any loss of agriculture land rezoning like in this proposal would reduce the amount of farmland available in Fayette County and central Kentucky, driving up costs for farmland for everybody,” says Will Glasscock with the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

LSC says soccer is growing in popularity and the addition of these youth fields would give a reliable place for kids to practice and learn as well as be able to host soccer tournaments for kids.

“We’ve never had a good spot to play in Lexington, all the fields have been bad over the years. It’s hard finding a good, flat field you can consistently go on without being kicked off of,” says Jack Hayden, a coach with LSC.

“This gives kids an opportunity to do something and it keeps them out of trouble,” says Max Nusbacher, an LSC coach.

The word ‘commercial’ also in hot debate. LSC says by definition, the soccer fields would be recreational non-commercial as they would only be available to members of the club.

LSC issued a statement on Instagram saying:

“We agree with the decision made today and applaud the Board of Adjustment for considering the positive impact of this project, which is much needed to support the infrastructure of our robust youth academy.

More than 1400 kids are registered with our youth club, making this decision not only an impactful one for hundreds of families, but necessary to give those kids adequate field space not found elsewhere in Lexington. This site allows us to meet that demand in one centralized location with the added benefit of having all age groups and teams at the same venue.

Agriculture is paramount in Central Kentucky, and we are fully committed to being worthy neighbors to the community and stewards of the site itself.”

The Board of Adjustment made some changes to LSC’s proposal to include extending daily hours of operation to be 7:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. and removing the limitation on the number of tournaments that can be held per month.

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