In a civil discourse, two attorneys who often find themselves on the opposite sides of planning and development matters debated the merits of appeal bonds and major mixed-use development One Park at the Louisville Forum.
The pair, Steve Porter and Nick Pregliasco, also weighed in whether Jefferson County Public Schools should have a say in development and on the makeup of the Planning Commission, along with its chair Vince Jarboe, who refrained from commenting on specific projects to avoid interfering with the city planning process.
One project of particular interest that will land before Jarboe and his fellow Planning Commission member is One Park, a proposed $450 million to $500 million development at the intersection of Grinstead Drive and Lexington Road that will include multifamily housing, offices, retail, restaurant space
Pregliasco, whose firm Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts is representing One Park developer Kevin Cogan, said the location is perfect the proposed development because of its proximity to downtown, Interstate 64 and the 389.13-acre Cherokee Park.
“It can really put Louisville on the map,” he said.
Porter, who has his own practice, told the crowd that he wasn’t opposed to One Park, though he also didn’t say he was in favor of it.
“It is a great location for something to go there,” said Porter, who already represents one of the neighborhood associations near the project. “The question
He added that he hopes a compromise can be struck between the neighbors and developer.
Jarboe did not comment on how One Park fit with the city’s new comprehensive plan, which is a guide for how Louisville should be developed, but he did make one prediction.
“All I can say is it is going to be a complex case, and it will probably be a night hearing,” he said. “Chances are this will go very, very late into the evening.”
During the question and response session, one person asked if allowing people to file lawsuits in Jefferson County Circuit Court to challenge the approval of a project was the right process.
The query comes shortly after Porter filed a lawsuit in that court challenging the validity of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve plans for a Topgolf entertainment center at Oxmoor Center.
“The loser, if you want to use that word, has that choice,” Porter said, citing a study he read that found that more than 90 percent of applications for development are approved. “It is not very often that applicants get turned down.”
Pregliasco countered that statistic, stating that his law firm often works with developers to impacts on the surrounding area and the cost-effectiveness of mitigation. If they don’t believe a project fits the comprehensive plan, he said, then it’s killed before starting the planning and design process.
Pregliasco also noted that a recently passed law allows judges to require plaintiffs in development cases to post a bond if they appeal a lawsuit to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The state lawmaker who drafted the law, Republican Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville, said it would cut down on frivolous lawsuits that kill or delay development.
Under the law, judges can set a bond as high as $100,000 for an appeal that the judge thinks has merit or as high as $250,000 if not. There is no minimum bond requirement.
“It is absolutely unconstitutional,” Porter said, adding that he and others are waiting for the right case to challenge the appeal bond law in court, though they’ve struggled to do so as developers have backed away from requesting an appeal bond.
Despite that, Porter assured the crowd,“that will be extinguished.”
He argued that it violates the state constitution, which gives residents access to the legal system at reasonable expense. “$250,000 is not inexpensive to my clients.”
Pregliasco countered that while a court could find the bond amounts to be too high in the future, that doesn’t mean the law will be completely thrown out.
The Planning Commission and school system
While Jarboe couldn’t weigh in on some questions, he did address one about the diversity of the Planning Commission.
Jarboe noted that there are five African-American commissioners and five white commissioners; there also are four women. However, Jarboe noted, that is not a great amount of diversity in terms of where commissioners live.
He added, though, that people who complain about the make-up of the Planning Commission are not willing to volunteer their personal time to being a member of the board. The position, like many other city boards, is unpaid.
Another person inquired about giving JCPS a say in the fate of proposed developments that could put a strain on individual schools like subdivisions, which would increase the number of people living nearby.
“It is just not something we can take into account,” Jarboe said.
Both Porter and Pregliasco chimed in that school systems, which are state agencies, shouldn’t be able to have a say.
“Otherwise, you are allowing an unrelated party — in this