2022 Candidate Q&A – James Brown

James Brown

Running for: Council At-Large
Website: jamesbrowncouncilatlarge.com

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?

In my current role on council, I have already been and will continue to be an advocate for your neighborhood. I know that improving traffic flow and public transportation opportunities are a focus on the Image Nicholasville Road plan but I continue to hear that pedestrian and bicycle facilities are top priority for families. In regards to working with the neighborhood to have a median installed, I would reach out to my contacts at the state transportation department to work collaboratively with the neighborhood to determine the most viable option to help pedestrians safely cross Nicholasville Rd. I would also continue to work with the state to identify funding sources, possibly with the new Federal Infrastructure funds to widen and make walkways ADA compliant, dedicate and protect bike lanes on the Nicholasville corridor.

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?

In the 2021 City Budget discussions, I supported a Sustainability Coordinator position for LFUCG. I believe this new position is focused on developing policies and initiatives that will help LFUCG and our community reduce its carbon footprint and become more environmentally responsible. I will work with my colleagues to review the Louisville ordinance and Frankfort’s resolution to see if we can pass similar legislation to set hard targets and aggressive goals for our community.

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 workers, 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 strongly believe in transparency and accountability, in addition to having good, diverse and equitable representation on all our boards and commissions. I am in support of a full review of our city’s charter to ensure that as our community continues to grow and develop we have the right designation and structures in place.

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 development 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 development integration into existing neighborhoods?

I know that neighborhood engagement is highly recommended and encouraged in the zone change process. We’ve seen the benefit of this effort and collaboration between developers and neighbors in regards to addressing concerns about the integration of newer developments and existing neighborhoods. Small Area Plans are another tool that can be used to establish and implement design guidelines and recommendations for future developments in specific areas. I believe we should continue to encourage and possibly incentivize collaboration in development, in addition to implementing small area plans in Lexington to better direct and coordinate smart development.

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

I do believe there’s a housing shortage. I also believe that it’s going to take
a multifaceted approach to address this issue in Lexington. I do think increasing mixed use residential opportunities in our city can help address our housing issue. I think
potential moratoriums on issuing commercial permits to address housing concerns
should be considered on a location and case by case basis.

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?

I believe Lexington has a lot of opportunity to improve in regards to urban
planning and our city planners are working hard to address our challenges. As a
growing mid-major city we can do a better job at increasing density in our urban
neighborhoods. We have to ensure that it’s not just density at all cost but that the new
developments integrate well and don’t overburden existing infrastructures. We have a
lot of opportunities to improve in regard to transportation whether public, pedestrian,
bicycles or automobiles in regards to safety, accessibility and affordability. Planning for
a variety of housing types could address some housing affordability issues we face in
our community, as well.