Somerset Council passes SPEDA grant resolution
Mar. 14—Somerset City Council helped out with a grant application for SPEDA, approved a zone change to pave the way for work in the new industrial park, and heard the first reading of an annexation request, all at its Monday meeting.
In helping the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), the council passed a resolution to aid in securing a Kentucky Product Development Initiative Grant worth $1.5 million.
During a SPEDA board meeting held earlier this month, President/CEO Chris Girdler called the grant a "huge deal" for the area and said it was SPEDA's third attempt at applying for the grant.
"This is going to help us almost get all of SPEDA Commerce Park developed, Girdler said. "When we're sitting here this time next year, SPEDA Commerce Park is going to look entirely different."
The park is a new development in the area of Barnesburg Road and Ky. 461, earmarked for several different developments.
One of the first projects announced — back in 2020 — is the creation of a Kentucky National Guard regional center and field maintenance shop.
At Monday evening's City Council meeting, Mayor Alan Keck called the grant a tremendous opportunity. "It's going to allow us as a community to speed up the development of the SPEDA Commerce Park," he said.
The resolution said, in part, that the project will have a "positive impact on the local economy" as it will create jobs and will bring new residents into the area and inject income into the local economy, improving the quality of life.
Somerset Council also passed an ordinance to change part of the undeveloped land in the same area — between Barnesburg Road and East Ky. 80, from industrial zoning to business (B-2).
And while the council voted unanimously for the change, the prospect of further development in that area brought up the question of emergency services for Councilor Robin Daughetee.
Daughetee turned to ask Somerset Fire Chief Bengie Howard, who was in the audience, a question about response times to that area.
Howard said that firetrucks are rated for "a mile a minute," and said that the subject weighs heavy with his crews.
"I know your concern," Howard said.
Daughetee said that isn't opposed to expansion and development of the area, he only brought up the question because he had previously been on a safety team and knows that response times affect insurance rates.
"I'm just curious as to eventually, as we expand these areas, that our services are going to have to expand to meet certain time frames and needs," he said.
Keck said he does not present these options without consulting with the heads of the emergency response departments.
"Long term ... I would love to add a facility on that end of town," Keck said. "I think we're going to continue to have that type of development and growth. Right now we can't afford it."
He added that Chief Howard is working on a grant that would help fund extra personnel.
Also at Monday's meeting, council heard the first reading of a request for annexation into the city limits for a business at the corner of Ky. 461 and Tommy Road. City Attorney John Adams said that the council had already heard the first reading of a corridor annexation along Ky. 461 that would run up to the business, and that both second readings will be conducted in a future meeting.
Carla Slavey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org