Mayor’s veto comes a week after unanimous vote

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By Laura Hagan

 After a unanimous vote at the La Grange City Council’s March meeting approved the comprehensive zoning ordinance, the mayor decided to veto it more than a week later.

According to a copy obtained by The Oldham Era, Mayor Elsie  Carter sent a veto of the ordinance to council members and Stuart Ulferts, attorney for Oldham County Planning and Zoning. In the veto, Carter alleges the ordinance contains invalid provisions, is inconsistent with current state law as written and interpreted by courts and requires a rewrite. Carter said she vetoed the ordinance to give the council another chance to review it – though the council already voted unanimously to pass it at their March meeting. Carter said one council member told her they  thought the council approved a revised ordinance but Carter said “they had approved the original ordinance.” She declined to comment on the council member’s name. “Even though it’s been passed,” she said, “I want them to look at it and make sure that’s what they want to do.” She said the way things work now with the comprehensive ordinance is that issues going from P&Z to the City of La Grange take several steps. First, they must be reviewed by P&Z, approved, and don’t move to the city for approval until minutes are approved at the next P&Z meeting. Often that’s not in time for the monthly meeting of the La Grange City Council, who have to put the item on the agenda quickly and host a public hearing before they vote on the property or zoning change, etc. She said it takes too long to reach the council, which doesn’t give the council enough time. “State law limits us to 90 days (to deny or approve the issue from the Planning Commission),” she said. “It’s a timing issue.” In addition to a copy of the veto, The Oldham Era has also obtained a memo on the issue from Ulferts to Oldham County Planning and Zoning Director Louise Allen, Chairman Kevin Jeffries and Judge-Executive Duane Murner. In it he said that what the mayor is proposing “is impossible under well-established law in Kentucky – not to mention detrimental to the zoning process.”  He submitted three cases with the memo to show the mayor’s veto isn’t legal.  Carter said she wants to get the information to the city quicker on any zoning ordinance going through the commission and said she vetoed the ordinance so the council could look at this issue – likely at April’s city council  meeting. “If they review it again and want to pass it again, that’s fine,” she said. “That’s what the veto is about – to give them another chance to look at something and make sure that it’s the way they want it.” La Grange council member Debbie Pollard is the chairperson of the city’s ordinance committee and said she doesn’t know what comes next in this situation, since the council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance already. Pollard said she just wants the mayor to “be honest” with the council. “(We) had no clue she was going to veto it,” she said. “If it was a problem, something should have been said at the meeting.”   E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com