Greenspace Commission

The Lexington-Fayette County Greenspace Commission was established by ordinance in 1990 as a citizen-based advisory group to the Urban County Government to incorporate into policy the preservation, management and enhancement of the County’s unique and special character for the economic, educational and general health, safety and welfare of the public. As defined in the Greenspace Plan prepared by the Commission, greenspace possesses the essential physical characteristics of our community that give the Bluegrass its special identity and quality of life. 

Therefore, greenspace in Lexington-Fayette County encompasses more than the beautiful rural countryside and urban parks; it includes all of the Urban County’s natural, cultural, historic and visual resources that contribute to the Bluegrass identity. Greenspace includes the experience, in the city or countryside, from an automobile, bike or on foot, in a safe and pleasant atmosphere. The essential physical characteristics are qualities that citizens treasure and do not wish to lose as the community grows; or, for areas where these qualities are lacking, they could be transformed if properly guided. The greenspace system refers to all of these characteristics, that woven together, give a coherent identity that can be protected and experienced. 

Examples of greenspace include:

  • Rural cultural landscapes, including patterns of fields and pastures; houses and outbuildings; barns and fences; rural roads; rural settlements, etc. 
  • Farms, working lands 
  • Natural, undisturbed or re-vegetated natural areas and habitat 
  • Natural resource areas, including prime and soils of statewide significance, streams and floodplains, flora and fauna 
  • Forests, woods, tree stands, fencerows, riparian vegetation, significant trees, venerable trees 
  • Kentucky River and Palisades, urban and rural conservation greenways and other environmentally sensitive or geologic hazard areas 
  • Scenic rural roads and vistas 
  • Scenic urban streets such as boulevards and parkways 
  • Street trees and green medians 
  • Special Design Areas, Scenic Resource Areas (Expansion Area) 
  • Sports fields, golf courses 
  • Trails 
  • Parks 
  • Gardens, including community, ornamental, therapeutic; sculpture 
  • Cemeteries, arboretums 
  • School grounds, college campuses, church lawns, office parks 
  • Development patterns and structures that recall the County’s founding and history, including historic sites, districts and landscapes found in rural areas, traditional neighborhoods and downtown 
  • Some open spaces usable as greenspace, including landscaped plazas, courtyards, sidewalk furnishing zones; landscaping and public art, stormwater basins, reservoirs, amphitheaters and pavilions, rail and utility corridors, landscaped gateways and neighborhood entrances

How to become a greenspace commissioner

There are other LFUCG boards and commissions whose interest are for specific types of greenspace, such as the environment, parks, trees, history, corridors, bike/pedestrians and rural land. The Greenspace Commission advises LFUCG at the ‘big picture’ scale. An important task for the Commission is the updating of the community’s Comprehensive Plan every five years. Taking greenspace to a new level, the Greenspace Commission sponsored the Environment and Green Infrastructure chapter in the 2007 Comprehensive Plan. Green Infrastructure emphasizes that as infrastructure, greenspace is essential to the community’s prosperity and very existence. It is not an amenity; the ecological, community and economic services which natural resources and landscapes provide are key to achieving sustainability. 

Because of the importance of greenspace protection for our economic well-being and quality of life, the sixteen appointed Commissioners are not just environmentalists and farmers; they also represent citizens in business, planning, development/design, and tourism who have a background or special knowledge about greenspace. The Commission has bylaws that govern rules about attendance; regular meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month. To keep informed about greenspace, guest speakers often attend meetings and there are occasional field trips. The Commission occasionally takes on projects, such the 2013 rural land use windshield survey, development of LFUCG’s community garden protocol and the 2016 Greenspace Survey.

To be a Greenspace Commissioner, one should: 

  • Possess a general knowledge of and personal interest in greenspace. 
  • Separate personal and professional interests to support the initiatives of the Commission in an unbiased manner. 
  • Use professional expertise to guide and advise Commission initiatives. 
  • Volunteer for and participate in committees/work groups to further Commission initiatives. 
  • Follow the bylaws, including the meeting attendance requirements. 
  • Advise community leaders on greenspace (this is done as a body, not an individual; and covered under duties above). 
  • Promote Commission initiatives to the community when the opportunity presents. 

Upcoming and previous work

For the remainder of 2017 through 2018, the Greenspace Commission’s meetings will focus on the following: 

  • 2018 Comprehensive Plan 
  • Updates to the Rural Land Management Plan; Greenway Master Plan, Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan, Parks and Recreation Master Plan 
  • Urban Forestry Master Plan (new) 
  • Adoption of the Greenway Manual and Handbook 
  • Begin work on the Green Infrastructure Master Plan (replacing the 1994 Greenspace Plan) 
  • Open space Zoning Ordinance text amendment 
  • Coldstream consent decree project (Greenspace Trust)

Since its inception, the Greenspace Commission has worked on all Comprehensive Plans, other significant planning documents, Zoning Ordinance text amendments, the creation of programs and staff, and public opinion surveys about greenspace. Highlights include: 

1992 Worked on the Greenway Plan Study (not adopted) 

1994 Greenspace Plan adopted 

1994 Reviewed and endorsed Stone Fence Ordinance 

1995 Reviewed Paris Pike Corridor Plan 

1996 Worked on Rural Land Capability Study/Maps for Comprehensive Plan 

1996 Spearheaded public meetings for Expansion Area Master Plan 

1996 Funded Downtown Streetscape and Landscape Plan 

1996 Contracted for the Greenspace and Parks/Recreation Telephone Survey 

1997 Greenspace Planner position created; staff to Commission 

1998 Funded S. Elkhorn Conceptual Plan 

1998 Funded Reforest the Bluegrass 

1998 Initiated hiring of Urban Forester 

1999 Initiated work on Rural Land Management Plan (adopted 2000); PDR ordinance 

1999 Reviewed Rural Corridor Overlay Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 

2000 Commission budget eliminated (balance moved to PDR) 

2000 Stakeholder for Greenway Master Plan and draft reviews (adopted 2002) 

2002 Created the Greenspace Trust* 

2002 Reviewed and endorsed the Greenway Master Plan 

2003 Attended a Commission retreat and action plan developed 

2004 Wrote and received Division of Forestry grant (Greenspace Trust) 

2006 Worked as a stakeholder for Greenway Manual and reviewed drafts 

2006 Worked on & sponsored Green Infrastructure chapter in the Comprehensive Plan 

2008 Participated in Destination 2040 

2008 Participated Downtown Streetscape Master Plan and Parks & Recreation Plan Update 

2008 Presented GTV3 segment on Coldstream SEP and Green Infrastructure 

2008 Entered into an agreement with LFUCG for a consent decree project (SEP) (Trust) 

2009 Conducted and wrote Annual Report on Status of Greenspace 

2009 Reviewed and endorsed Article 26 and Cemetery Text Amendments 

2009 Wrote letter of support for Equine Task Force recommendations 

2010 Conducted windshield survey 

2010 Reviewed of greenspace definition 

2011 Worked on Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives; began data collection 

2012 Worked on Comprehensive Plan Green Infrastructure element (through 2014 adoption) 

2013 Rural land use windshield survey 

2013 Formed work group to review LFUCG community garden protocol (through 2014) 

2014 Reviewed drafts & endorsed Recreation Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 

2014 Worked on criteria for Small Area Plans and reviewed plan drafts 

2015 Completed Community Gardens and Urban Ag; endorsed ZO text amendments 

2015 Began review of open space regulations, including site visits 

2016 Initiated an update to the 1996 Greenspace Survey; worked with consultant 

2016 Continued review of open space regulations and initial drafts 

2016 Reviewed the need to update the stone fence inventory, including site visit 

2017 Completed the 2016 Greenspace Survey 

2017 Reviewed 2018 proposed goals and objectives with an endorsement 

2017 Reviewed draft of Rural Land Management Plan 

* In 2002, the Greenspace Commission established itself as a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization as a funding mechanism for greenspace/environmental projects. The Trust is currently working with LFUCG on implementation of the consent decree for a water quality project at Coldstream Park.