The Berea City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday night that would annex approximately 27 acres into city limits.
The property was once owned by the late Ruth J. Jacobs and is located at 1112 Mayde Road.
Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley explained that if the ordinance is approved in a second reading at the February 15 meeting, the item would be taken up by the Berea Planning Commission, which would then determine a zone classification for the land and make a recommendation to the city council. Currently, the property is classified as agricultural.
Once the land is annexed into city limits, it can receive city services. In other action, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance that amends parking regulations in city limits.
For example, curbs in front of fire hydrants would be painted red, parking within five feet of a driveway would be prohibited, parking within 12 feet of a residential mailbox would also be prohibited, along with the prohibition of parking on bridges or overpasses. Additionally, the ordinance repeals a 10-hour parking limit in some areas of town.
“The 10-hour parking [rule] that we’re looking at removing is on streets that the 10-hour parking, to my knowledge, has not been enforced, and being that’s it’s a 10-hour rule, it would be very difficult for law enforcement to enforce,” Councilman John Payne said, explaining that police only work in eight-hour shifts. “The others were just items we saw as safety items,” he added.
Officials said the ordinance will be further fine tuned between now and February 15, when the measure comes up for a final vote.
Also Tuesday night, Mayor Fraley made three appointments to the Berea Planning Commission, including two returning commissioners and one new member. Betty Olinger and Martin Richards were approved to serve additional four-year terms, while Stephanie Hembree was appointed to a four-year term to replace Katie Berry, who is likely to move on to the Board of Adjustments, according to the mayor.
Turning to COVID-related relief funds, the council adopted a resolution enabling the mayor to designate $4.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as lost revenue in the city’s financial reporting. The city has already received approximately $2 million in the federal funds, and will receive the balance in June, Fraley said.
The council also unanimously approved a measure to classify certain obsolete municipal property as surplus property, allowing it to be sold. The complete list of available items will be forthcoming.
In a report to the council, Economic Development Committee Chair Jim Davis emphasized that the city is continuing its campaign to attract a major grocery store to the city.
Berea Business and Economic Development Director Donna Angel said recently in an interview that she is actively courting Kroger and Publix grocery stores, and that the changing economic outlook and demographics continue to make Berea a more attractive destination for a major grocery retailer.
“I know that Donna is still working on a grocery store,” Davis said. “I think with all of these others businesses coming here it shows that we can support a grocery store, so hopefully we’ll get something before long.”
Davis was referring to two national businesses that recently announced store openings in Berea, including Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken and Scooter’s Coffee. KFC recently opened on Paint Lick Road, and Waffle House is expected to located on Highway 21 West as well.
Angel recently remarked that the first place she takes prospective business owners is exit 77, where there are encouraging signs of economic development. A franchisee has signed on to reopen Huddle House, 160 apartments are being constructed behind Tractor Supply Co., an entire new subdivision is being built just around the corner near Angel Road, and a new veterinary office opened. The increasing population in the area, combined with close access to I-75, could be the lure that attracts a major grocery retailer, officials said.
During the mayoral report and city administrator’s report, Public Works staffer Steve Collins and Berea Police Officer Sam Shearer drew praise for relief taking supplies to Dawson Springs, which was devastated by a December tornado. Collins and Shearer took supplies that were collected as part of the Berea Police Department’s Berea Cares initiative, delivering food, water, clothing, toys, as well as generators and stop signs that were made by the Public Works Department. Mayor Fraley noted the collection effort was coordinated with the help of the Kentucky League of Cities.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Lainhart of Hope’s Wings announced that Mayor Fraley and Police Chief Eric Scott will be “jailed” soon, as part of the organization’s annual bail and jail fundraiser. The organization serves people who have suffered spousal abuse, and there is a current need to fund repairs for the emergency shelter, Lainhart said.