Environment protections urged as part of LFUCG contracts

In light of the recently approved settlement agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, Lexington should consider adding environmental standards to the contracts it issues, Van Meter Pettit told the Urban County Council on Thursday.

Pettit is president of Town Branch Trail Inc., which wants to create an 8-mile trail following the Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek from Masterson Station Park through downtown. He addressed the council about a towing contract that the council unanimously awarded to Bluegrass Towing Service on Thursday.

Under the contract, Bluegrass Towing, which operates on Manchester Street by the Town Branch, will be called to tow or impound vehicles at the request of the police, code enforcement and the parking authority.

Pettit said his issue wasn’t with Bluegrass Towing or the contract it was awarded. His concern centers on improving environmental standards.

There are grandfathered businesses and properties all along the Town Branch — which is one of the most polluted waterways in the state — that are operating under standards appropriate when they were developed, Pettit said. “At a certain point, a community has to raise its environmental standards.”

The city could incrementally improve the environment by including items in its contracts such as not allowing certain operations in a flood plain or requiring activities to be a certain distance from waterways, Pettit said.

Bluegrass Towing’s facilities have been inspected twice in the last 60 days by two different state environmental divisions, said Andy Alphin, president of Bluegrass Towing. Neither inspection turned up any environmental violations, he said.

The city needs to do everything it can to improve the environment and clean up the streams, said Councilman Tom Blues, whose district includes the area where Bluegrass Towing is located.

But Bluegrass Towing has complied with every local and state law and the city should move forward with awarding the contract, he said.

In addition to Pettit’s concerns, the contract awarded to Bluegrass Towing is being disputed by A1 Winchester Towing & Repair, which contends it should have been given the contract because its bid was lower than Bluegrass Towing’s.

The city could save $100,000 if A1 Winchester gets the contract, said Justin Morgan, an attorney for A1 Winchester Towing.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader Friday May 23, 2008
By Michelle Ku
This post comes from www.Kentucky.com and the Lexington Herald-Leader