Community Economy

The Louisville Metro Council cleared the way for a proposed affordable housing development in the Okolona neighborhood by passing a requested zoning change Thursday night.

In a 16 to 7 vote, council members approved the Planning Commission’s recommendation to change the zoning for a piece of land in the 8000 block of Shepherdsville Road to allow multi-family housing.

The project, called Unity Place and first proposed in 2016, could include affordable units as well as housing for refugees. Nearby property owners have expressed concern and opposition as well as some support for the project since it was first introduced. Those who were against it cited issues such as traffic, density and the perceived effect the complex would have on their property values.

Councilwoman Madonna Flood of District 24, which includes the project site, voiced her opposition to the zoning change and related development but declined to introduce alternate findings of fact on the floor Thursday evening. That would have been a necessary step to attempt to stop the project; Flood said she was concerned that if she tried and failed to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision, it would result in her losing amendments she proposed to adjust conditions on the development.

Flood, who is the chair of the Metro Planning and Zoning Committee, said she is worried about public safety in the area, which lacks sidewalks and experiences high traffic. She voted against the zoning change.

“I really don’t support this because of … [the] public safety issues that were brought up during the meetings,” Flood said, referring to public hearings.

City officials, including Metro Council members, are required to make zoning decisions based only on the formal record that includes public feedback to determine whether a proposal fits with the Louisville Comprehensive Plan.

Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith of District 4, who supported the measure, said expanding affordable units throughout the city could help mitigate the affordable housing shortage and possibly lower the number of people experiencing homelessness in Louisville.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.