Empower Lexington: A plan for a resilient community

The 2023 Empower Lexington Plan will be Lexington’s guide for a sustainable, resilient future. It will help Lexington-Fayette County adapt to both natural and manmade changes. This is a plan for the entire community, not just local government.

Working groups reviewed the 2012 plan and updated the recommendations as outlined below.

Public input via the online survey and input kits has closed. Thank you to everyone who participated in the process!

Natural systems and ecology

  • Preserve land with vegetative and tree cover, in both rural and urban areas.
  • Preserve and develop additional greenspace within Fayette County.
  • Increase equitable park and greenspace access, meeting the goal of 70% of the dwelling units having access to greenspace within 1/2-mile (800 meters) walking distance. 
  • Complete a comprehensive ecosystem assessment that includes the following: topography, soils, vegetation & habitat, hydrology & aquatic ecosystems, tree mapping, endangered species, flood zones, and hydrology.
  • Promote awareness and appreciation of the unique qualities of soils in Fayette County and the importance of agriculture at local, regional, and national levels.
  • Continue to support the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program.
  • Explore innovative land preservation and conservation concepts (in addition to PDR) with a focus on the protection of Lexington-Fayette County’s bluegrass soils.
  • Implement information and engagement efforts to support existing programs that facilitate sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Promote practices and policies that maintain vegetation, sequester carbon dioxide, preserve soil, and reduce surface water runoff for agricultural, residential and commercial lands.
  • Provide funding for the development of a resilience plan that identifies vulnerabilities and risk capacity related to climate change and other natural and man-made hazards.
  • Reduce light pollution and glare.

Transportation and land use

  • Reduce reliance on cars and trucks by enacting the Lexington Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
  • Develop a plan to provide more sustainable transportation options and reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles.
  • Identify areas in need of infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, etc.) to encourage walking, scooting and biking.
  • Leverage existing and future reports and plans to improve transportation options, safety and efficiency. 
  • Integrate green infrastructure into high quality public streets, in line with the Complete Streets Action Plan and based on the Complete Streets Design Standards.
  • Implement practices that will shorten travel times for commuters using the public transit system such a signal priority for busses and/or dedicated bus lanes.
  • Develop a Long Range Transit plan for the future of high-quality transit service in Lexington, complete with a funding and implementation strategy.
  • Add zoning ordinance requirements for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations.
  • Encourage the transition of large vehicle fleets to EV and alternative fuels.
  • Assess electric vehicle (EV) and alternative fuel needs in Lexington. Develop an action plan to address any deficiencies.
  • LFUCG support the creation of an organization to coordinate efforts for strategic planning and development in Lexington. The organization would pursue federal funding for equitable redevelopment in high-priority areas.
  • Analyze the effects of the Urban Service Boundary on transportation and land use.


Water efficiency

  • Continue infrastructure improvements to reduce sanitary sewer pipe leakage and overflows.
  • Reduce drinking water use (gallons per person).
  • Manage stormwater with functional green spaces in new and redeveloped areas.
  • Protect and enhance stream buffer zones throughout Fayette County.
  • Build infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change.
  • Reduce pollutants entering Fayette County waterways.
  • Increase tree canopy coverage to improve water quality and reduce rainwater runoff.
  • Reduce or eliminate drinking water loss by updating aging infrastructure.
  • Improve water efficiency in built new and redeveloped areas.

Energy and greenhouse gas emissions

  • Request utility companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2035 and reach net-zero by 2050.
  • Use LEED Certified Criteria (national sustainable building standards) to set LFUCG building standards.
  • Set community-wide renewable energy goals as a percent of total energy used (5 years, 10 years).
  • Conduct an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions every 2 years.
  • Create additional, elevated sustainability positions within LFUCG including one focused on researching, applying for and implementing sustainability/resilience grants.
  • Develop a list of local companies and individuals who are leaders in energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Utilize that list to coordinate a sustainability-focused business network group and establish a high-profile sustainability awards ceremony to unite the community and boost awareness.
  • Fund and implement a Climate Change Vulnerability Report focused on both mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
  • Allow large energy users to directly enter into long-term contracts with renewable energy developers.
  • Establish a Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance for large and medium-size buildings.
  • Develop a Green Bank to expedite funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
  • Create and utilize renewable biogas through organic waste collection.

Materials and resources

  • Reduce the amount of textiles/clothing sent to the landfill.
  • Reduce the amount of food waste and/or organics sent to the landfill.
  • Divert 35% of Construction and Demolition Debris away from landfills.
  • Increase education and engagement opportunities to increase residential recycling levels and decrease contamination in the recycling stream.
  • Increase community programs that encourage reuse/reduction, such as tool libraries.
  • Consider establishing Extended Producer Responsibilities (ERP) policies for some items, such as batteries. Under EPR policies, producers of materials (e.g., batteries) pay the cost to collect and recycle.  
  • Explore opportunities to improve waste collection route optimization.
  • Expand types of material that are accepted in the mixed comingled recycling stream.
  • Establish programs that discourage the use of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags.

Quality of life (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion)

  • Plan for safe, affordable, accessible housing to meet the needs of all Lexington residents
  • Enable all existing and new neighborhoods to flourish through thoughtful (re)development. This includes connectivity to other neighborhoods and key businesses/services, safe biking, scooting and walking options, natural features, green infrastructure, neighborhood-level services and businesses and other assets. Emphasis should be placed on keeping current residents in place.
  • Ensure equitable development and rectify Lexington’s segregation by race and socioeconomic status.
  • Strengthen efforts to develop a variety of job opportunities that support a living wage and lead to prosperity for all.
  • Enhance job training and career connection opportunities for all residents seeking better economic options.
  • Improve opportunities for small business development with focused support for minority businesses.
  • Create opportunities for low, moderate and middle income residents to access affordable and equitable home financing options for those who desire to own a home.
  • Enhance opportunities for robust public outreach and engagement, particularly for issues that affect quality of life.


Now that public input has been gathered, a contractor will:

  • Review all recommendations.
  • Collect data on impacts, risks and opportunities.
  • Propose a final plan, complete suggested priorities and details on resources required to implement the various recommendations.

Once the plan is finalized and adopted, the city will begin working with community partners to implement the various recommendations as resources and opportunities allow. This is expected to happen by summer 2024.