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Proposed Louisville ordinance seeks to halt development around Floyds Fork

Courtesy of Jeff Frank
Algae blooms in Floyds Fork have been concerning to local environmentalists, who worry about their negative effect on oxygen in the creek.

Local environmentalists are concerned about projects near Floyds Fork, which they argue contribute to erosion and poor water quality.

Floyds Fork is 62 miles long and travels through four counties in Kentucky, including the far eastern part of Jefferson County. It leads into the Salt River, which itself reaches the Ohio River.

While the creek may be best known to Louisvillians who use the expansive public parks system that runs along its twists and turns, it’s also a source of concern for neighboring residents who worry about how development impacts it.

Metro Council Republicans Anthony Piagentini and Stuart Benson represent Districts 19 and 20, respectively, which each contain portions of Floyds Fork. They’re co-sponsoring an ordinance that would impose a six-month moratorium on various kinds of construction around the creek.

The ban would affect the Floyds Fork Development Review Overlay District, which was created in 1993. It promotes and regulates projects in the surrounding area, such as building large parking lots and clearing more than 5,000 square feet of forest, with the goal of protecting the environment.

But not everyone agrees with the current regulations.

Jeff Frank has lived by the creek for nearly 30 years. He’s the founder of Friends of Floyds Fork, a group advocating for safe and sustainable growth around the waterway.

He recommends changes like limiting how much impervious surface is built, because developments like driveways prevent water from being absorbed by the ground and contribute to runoff into Floyds Fork. He also thinks development in the creek’s floodplain should be avoided entirely.

“We have the tools. It's whether we have the political willpower to put regulations that are truly protective in place, on a big enough area to make a difference,” Frank said.

Last year, Metro Council passed a resolution requiring the city’s Planning Commission to review the overlay district and present recommended changes to council members. The resolution came after the body approved a Vision Plan for the South Floyds Fork Area in 2020, which promoted sustainable growth and updating district guidelines.

However, the commission did not meet its December 31 deadline and is still working on its review.

The proposed ordinance aims to block new developments while the review continues. It would not affect developments that are already approved or have scheduled public hearings.

But it would prohibit new applications for rezoning and for projects like building five or more single-family residential lots and creating 25 or more off-street parking spaces.

The ordinance language says “developments passed while waiting on the recommendations based on the Vision Plan are pending may not comply with the eventual recommendations, potentially resulting in irreversible damage to Floyds Fork.”

Neither Piagentini nor Benson responded to requests for comment.

Juva Barber is the executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville. She said her group is opposed to the ordinance and argued that moratoriums have a “negative impact on the community overall.”

She said her group supports changes going through a process like the Planning Commission’s review, instead of an immediate ban.

The ordinance is scheduled to be discussed at Metro Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting next Tuesday.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.