"It's larger lots that bring quality development," he said. "It's green space in perpetuity. It's easy on the environment, and it's pretty to look at. It draws a certain people to a community who want to make it their home."
The city's comprehensive plan, which by Kentucky law must be looked at every five years for possible updates, attempts to prepare for future land needs and growth trends. It will only affect areas within Nicholasville's urban service boundary, but any land annexed would be subject to its jurisdiction. It was this fact that attracted many in the large crowd, most of whom live in that northwest corner near the Fayette County line.
Throughout the meeting, those citizens echoed Horne's concerns that the high-density, piecemeal devecreep up to their backyards.
"I want a place where my kids can play; a place where they can be safe," said Windom Lane resident John Osbourne.
Cramped development in northwestern Jessamine County could also cause problems with sewer service.
In 1995 the county met with Pam Miller, Lexington's mayor, to establish a sewer agreement in which Fayette County would serve a segment of northern Jessamine. The agreement is limited to a 2-million-gallons-per-day capacity, set at the time by a one-house-per-acre engineering need.
An on-going grant to service mobile home parks in the area will utilize 10 percent of that capacity. According to figures given by Magistrate George Dean at the meeting, recent residential and commercial annexations near Brannon Crossing will take up an estimated 40 to 50 percent.
"My concern, personally, is the loss of sewer capacity through high-density development," he said. "That capacity could be jeopardized."
The land in that area is a "blank canvas" in high demand, Horne said. Developers will come knocking regardless of the rules set forth by the plan.
"It is within our power as a community to decide how we want to grow. We don't have to let the complicated process wag the dog," he said. "It's up to our elected officials to stand up to the pressures that will come and to maintain what it is the plan says."
All of the controversy stems from the fact that Nicholasville and Jessamine County have separate planning and zoning commissions, and therefore by Kentucky law, must have their own 20-year comprehensive plan. Any conflicting details in the plans can create confusion for citizens and abrupt, unfair changes to land-use regulation if annexation takes place.
"There have been discussions about the possibility of having one comprehensive plan adopted by both bodies," said Nicholasville Planning Commission Director Greg Bohnett at the meeting. "That's been discussed, but there's been no decision made, so we have to, by state law, have our own plan."
Citizens at the meeting welcomed the proposed cooperation.
"Let me just say, as a tax payer in both Nicholasville and Jessamine County, do it together," said Bob Peterson. "It just makes no sense (to do it separate)."
The massive turnout was encouraging the committee, which is responsible for submitting an updated plan to the Nicholasville Planning Commission. The Nicholasville City Commission will decide whether to approve the goals and objectives set forth by the plan.
Committee member Pete Beatty, who is also the Jessamine County-Wilmore Joint Planning commission director, urged those in the audience to remain involved.
"Stay tuned. Stay interested. Don't say, 'Well, I had my say. I'm letting it go,'" he said. "Your comments will help to focus this committee, as well as the planning commission."
Another public meeting is scheduled for March 20.