The Lexington City Council will hold a public hearing Monday on the possible sale of city-owned property for development of an agricultural research center.
The hearing will be held during the council’s meeting which starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Council members will vote on a resolution to sell approximately two acres of property between South Salisbury and South Railroad streets and East Fifth and East Fourth streets to Southern Cross Management for $30,000.
William Fusselbough of Southern Cross Management has offered to buy the property.
The facility would be called the Green Works Innovation Center and focus on plant science research, developing and processing, with a concentration in areas of extraction and processing of hops and industrial hemp. It would include indoor agriculture cultivation of botanical, vegetable and other plants suitable for indoor vertical farming.
Lexington City Manager Terra Greene said the agricultural research center would not only support local educational institutions, but it would also attract younger residents to the area in support of more modern research practices.
Greene wanted to clarify the center would not be for the manufacturing of recreational marijuana, but for the research of best practices in developing industrial hemp, hops and other agricultural products. She said there may be some production of legal hemp products, such as CBD oils, and hops.
“It is going to be an agricultural research center with a concentration on industrial hemp,” Greene said. “Hemp is an agricultural product that is on the rise. We hope they will repurpose the building and create a higher-education type of center.”
The property was formerly the showroom at Lexington Home Brands, and has been vacant since it was purchased by the city in 2007 along with other properties in the area.
As part of the preliminary sales agreement, the management company would be required to submit a master plan to the Lexington Business and Development Office within six months and start construction within a year of the sale.
Also as part of the agreement, the company could not destroy the building, but must repurpose and reuse as much of the building as possible.
Green Works Innovation Center would also include demonstration rooms open to the public and include education activities for school children. It would also include university-based projects, which would be integrated with local community colleges, state universities, private universities and other educational institutions.
Greene said city officials are looking forward to the addition of a facility that appeals to younger generations and offers innovative educational opportunities.
“It is an incubator,” Greene said. “We wanted something that would appeal to students who have an interest in this kind of research. We are very excited and wanted something to encourage the youth and to create opportunity to embrace cutting-edge agriculture research.”
Also during the meeting, the council will:
• Hold a public hearing on the requested rezoning of a property at 2008 Cotton Grove Road owned by Snellings Oil from a traditional neighborhood district to a business district.
• Hold a public hearing on amending the local historical district design guide to increase the height regulation for fencing to four feet.
• Accept a $1,000 award from Uptown Lexington for placing third in the Uptown Lexington Window Contest at Christmas.
Sharon Myers can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDispatchSM