2022 Candidate Q&A – Dave Sevigny

Dave Sevigny

Running for: Council District 10
Website: www.daveforlex.com

April 2022

Pensacola Park neighbors-

Thank you for allowing me to participate in your candidate survey. Your questions are thoughtful and help me understand some of the issues you are considering as your neighborhood matures.

I’m a successful small businessperson, and I have thrived on learning, relationships and continual improvement. I hope that we can have a relationship like that. To be truly successful, I’ve had to surround myself with people who are really good at what they do, but I also need to be smart enough to ask questions that create some tension and could be considered contrary.

My promise to you is that as a newly retired person, there is nothing greater that I want to achieve but to continue a life of service and good health. I want to listen, discuss and build consensus. I want to be available to the people I serve.

I love our city and I want to make it the best possible version of itself while I serve. I look forward to future discussions!

Warm regards-
Dave Sevigny
Candidate for 10th District Council

1. Nicholasville Road corridor is a major contributor to how Pensacola Park neighborhood interacts with the city, in fact only one of our routes from our neighborhood goes to a different location (Rosemont Garden); so most of our streets spill out onto Nicholasville road primarily. While the Imagine Nicholasville Road comprehensive plan focuses on the bus and car, aka the driving experience, our neighborhood often uses other forms of transportation, like walking and biking; as we make up UK professors, medical professionals, students, families, and elderly people. If you were elected to council, how do you propose to be our advocate in working to improve upon the Nicholasville road experience? For instance, how would you help work with us and the state to get a median installed so that pedestrians have a refuge to cross over to the other side? How do you propose to help widen walkways to be more ADA compliant? How do you propose to safely transverse bikers up the Nicholasville Road corridor?

Lexington commuting has been car centric for a long time, although glimmers of hope for change are emerging. The “Imagine Nicholasville Rd” report from the summer of 2021, described what a city corridor could look like. The study includes areas from Brannon Rd. to downtown Lexington-part of which includes Pensacola Park. The ideas include-Complete Streets (much needed specific bicycle, walking, vehicle and transit lanes). Widening of sidewalks (or dedicated walkways) along Nicholasville Rd. would end up being part of the plan. The first transformation toward complete streets can be seen on Vine St. downtown. While it might be far reaching, the study provided insight to how a corridor could be more amenable to different transportation modalities in Lexington to meet the vision of the Comprehensive Plan.

When you run a successful small business, you have a hand in all aspects of getting projects over the goal line-from creating vision, sales, financing and operations. Nicholasville Rd. is primarily managed and funded by our state. I recognize that a visionary project of this scale will take work with the Legislature, Governor and Transportation Cabinet (who will also change over the course of a project of this magnitude). It won’t be easy. I’d work with the mayor, other councilpersons (3, 4, and 9 all touch the corridor), and Jessamine County officials to approach our legislature and governor about setting aside the funds to start the process.

2. In February 2020, Louisville Metro Council passed the 100% renewable-energy ordinance setting out the goals of 100% clean electricity for Metro operations by 2030, 100% clean energy for Metro operations by 2035, and 100% clean energy community-wide by 2040. Similarly, Frankfort recently passed a resolution that calls for 100% clean renewable electricity for City government operations by 2023, 100% clean energy for City government by 2030, and 100% clean renewable electricity community-wide by 2030. At the moment, Lexington has no plans for transition to renewables despite having been named “BigFoot” for having the largest per capita carbon footprint in the nation. What will you do to remedy this situation? What renewable energy goals will you propose for Lexington (LFUCG and the community), and what actions and what policies will you implement to achieve those goals?

I do find that environmental challenges create the biggest long term global threat to life-and they pose a greater threat to those on margins. As a councilperson, I would support policy to improve recycling access (excited that we have brought back paper recycling curbside), encourage smaller amounts of garbage and increased composting, pursue biking and walkability, lower the footprint of public and private transportation, and have our city buildings running with the lowest carbon footprint we can. I think one thing that will get addressed in the next 5 years is either a renovation or replacement of city hall-which most agree is old and inefficient. A renovation is a perfect time to address issues that can help us care for our environment and create a long-term annuity. I believe the Comprehensive Plan is the place where a statement about carbon neutrality can best be made as this document seems to be one that most policy supports. Most of the plan will be in place before I take office, but I hope environmental health is part of it.

3. Per the KRS Chapter 67C, fair, diverse representation is cited as a must when it comes to a planning commission, but Lexington has declared itself not a consolidated local government but an urban county government under KRS Chapter 67a, which means it has its own governing rules in this arena. Currently, they do not have governing bylaws that address a balanced governing body, nor mandates that only a certain amount of appointees sit on the commission that have direct financial interests in development; there are no restrictions on how long a district representation can sit on the commission, no real transparency on who is sitting on the board, and a lack of professional representation when it comes to the cities infrastructure (eg. social environmentalists, landscape architects, urban planners, civil engineers, professors, transportation engineers, traffic engineers, stormwater engineers, etc). While planning commission is appointed by the mayor, they are confirmed by Council. If you are elected for Council, how do you propose amending our current planning commission bylaws to be more transparent, equal, and fair?

I’ve reviewed the bylaws for the Planning Commission and they can only currently be changed by the Commission themselves. Lexington has a large number of diverse and talented people, and it would be helpful to further specify in the bylaws certain types of representation on the Commission. The current bylaws seem to handle ethics on the Commission in a reasonable way. It would be helpful to have the makeup of members of the commission have specific talents or requirements that would enable them to be able to question the LFUCG Dept. of Planning more credibly on cases that come before the Commission. Any commission or council should be used as a check and balance to make sure that staff and employees are presenting things thoroughly and fairly-and one of the ways to do that is to ensure your commissions and councils are equipped and confident to ask the right questions. I’m also in favor of term limits for everything because it’s only with those that we can proceed to get new and innovative ideas in place vs “we’ve always done it that way”.

4. Neighborhoods currently feel under attack when it comes to developmentally driven projects that are pushed through by LFUCG, with little regard to how they engage with their surroundings. This is often a result of there being a lack of smart developmental design guidelines in zoning texts that would ultimately help integrate newer developments into existing urban fabric. The original Imagine Lexington comprehensive plan proposed city design guidelines that would address this issue, but this was nixed on a council level. If you are elected to this position, how do you propose addressing potential design guidelines with planning staff as they amend current zoning laws to help for better developmental integration into existing neighborhoods?

I do tend to like thoughtful consistent design standards. I also like variety because it can do a lot to make a place interesting, but having a consistent feel like building heights, setbacks, design features and characteristics can create unity and a better sense of neighborhood. H1 overlays and their design guidelines are a typical example of that. Your neighborhood has opted to go that way and therefore you’ve done something that is going to create a look and feel that you want. When H1 overlays become too difficult for all people to live in a community though, with design standards that are too strict, they can push people out. Lexington should be a place for all. I will continue to support that with reasonable and thoughtful policy.

5. Do you believe there is a housing shortage? If so, do you support the downzoning of commercial properties to mixed use residential and potential moratoriums on issuing commercial permits to help address the current housing crisis?

Yes. Reasonably priced, diverse housing is getting very difficult to find. Commercial and international investors are gobbling up real estate as an investment-competing mostly with first time home buyers who are attempting to buy as a less expensive alternative to rent. But I do think we might be just experiencing a bubble. Baby boomers-the largest demographic with approximate age 58-72, represent a very significant population that will probably exit their homes within 20 years and the generations behind them are smaller. Low interest rates drive demand, but we’ve already seen the most rapid increase in interest rates in the last few months. This should cool off the market. Rents are very high and when the market cools investors may begin to ease that upward pressure. I’d love to see and would be supportive of more creative down-zoning of some properties which would better serve as housing for a large group of people vs. a retail big box that struggles to compete with online consumerism.

6. Do you think Lexington is a successful city when it comes to urban planning? If so, why? If not, why not, and what are things it can do to improve upon itself?

The Urban Service Boundary (USB) has probably had the most significant impact on our community as we strive to keep our unique value proposition of horse country at the forefront and I’m a supporter of using that as a guidepost to development. The wheel and spoke system in Lexington is a pretty tough design choice that was made many years ago-so it limits some of our options. Grid systems work better for movability, public transportation etc. I recently attended a webinar that had planners from Lexington, Charlotte, Greensboro and Louisville share their approaches to planning. I do think there is a huge value in sharing ideas and not operating in your own bubble because it breeds more innovation-I’m a peer group fan and would encourage our planning department to continually innovate and consider diverse opinions. I think that there are a small number of people who really care about details like our Comprehensive Plan, and the vast majority of our population isn’t engaged-so the voices that speak need to speak very loudly and very clearly. The Comprehensive Plan is the document that is leaned on for almost all planning decisions and directions- so impacting it is all of our jobs. 2022 input via “On the Table” is critical and I’m attending or hosting about 5 myself, yet I think that the plans and direction will be put in place and hard to change before I take office on 1/1/2023.