A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Boone County Fiscal Court approves expansion of Creation Museum in Petersburg despite opposition

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

The Boone County Fiscal Court Tuesday approved a change in an approved concept development plan that clear the way for a major expansion at the Creation Museum in Petersburg.

Despite opposition from several nearby residents, both at a public hearing in December and at Tuesday’s meeting, the Fiscal Court voted 3-1 to approve the change with conditions.

Attorney Paul Darpel makes the case for residents opposed to the Creation Museum expansion at Tuesday's Boone County Fiscal Court meeting.

Attorney Paul Darpel makes the case for residents opposed to the Creation Museum expansion at Tuesday’s Boone County Fiscal Court meeting (photos by Mark Hansel).

Boone County Commissioner Cathy Flaig voted against the proposal, which the Boone County Planning Commission recommended for approval by an 8-6 vote.

The expansion would include a three-level 210,000 square-foot museum building and a separate 5,500 square foot services building on a 55 acre site. A total of 1,314 parking spaces, including 30 RV/bus spaces and 106 existing spots, are included in the plan.

Answers in Genesis, the Apologetics ministry that owns the Creation Museum, also plans to open the Ark Encounter, a full sized replica of Noah’s Ark, in Williamstown in July.

The expansion is requested, in part, to accommodate the expected increase in visitors to the Creation Museum that will be drawn from the Ark Encounter.

Other additions to the Creation Museum include a 25,000 square foot museum ticketing and store building, a children’s area and upgrades to the petting zoo. An additional sanitary treatment plant will be installed at the eastern end of the site and the septic system will be extended.

Up to 50 additional evening events will be permitted as a result of the change in approved concept development, with the condition that noise levels do not exceed 50 decibels. Planning commission staff described that level as similar to background, or typical neighborhood, noise.

The expansion has a pricetag of between $15 million and $20 million.

Commissioner Charlie Walton recommended approval of the change with three conditions, in addition to seven previously recommended by the planning commission, and Commissioner Charles Kenner seconded.

Answers in Genesis co-founder Mike Zovath said the Creation Museum will comply with all of the conditions for expansion identified by the Planning Commission and the Fiscal Court.

Answers in Genesis co-founder Mike Zovath said the Creation Museum will comply with all of the conditions identified by the Planning Commission and the Fiscal Court in the change for approved concept development plan.

“These decisions are tough, growth in Boone County happens, we’ve had to make a lot of tough ones and I think the eight to six vote…shows how close this is,” Kenner said.  “There’s no bad guys in this.”

The additional conditions addressed residents’ concerns regarding stormwater runoff, additional personnel to avoid traffic backups, and a traffic study in two years, which would include good-faith negotiations on cost sharing if roadway improvements are deemed necessary.

Flaig said she could not support the request because she believed it would create a disruption in what, except for the Creation Museum, is a rural, residential area.

“The impact on that area is awful at best,” Flaig said. “It almost needs its own exit off the interstate. Fifty decibels, I don’t know what that is, but I can tell you a thousand cars would make a lot of noise in a very quiet area.”

Answers in Genesis co-founder Mike Zovath said he was pleased and relieved that the project is allowed to go forward.

“One of the conditions is included in our concept development plan, so there is no surprise there,” Zovath said. “The other conditions are fine as well.”

Paul Darpel, an attorney representing several adjacent landowners, said the decision was disappointing.

“They had hoped not to have to deal with this development and tried to do everything they could within the rules,” Darpel said. “They are understandably disappointed in the outcome.”

Site preparation and construction is expected to begin almost immediately.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. John T. says:

    ““The impact on that area is awful at best,” Flaig said. “It almost needs its own exit off the interstate.”

    And that’s a bad thing? Does she hate economic growth??

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