Kenton Co mayors take unanimous stand for subdivision regulations, with changes

The Kenton County Mayors’ Group recently endorsed the new, draft Kenton County Subdivision Regulations crafted by NKAPC staff. The group’s unanimous endorsement includes 13 modifications that its members want to see adopted by the Kenton County Planning Commission. Among them are tougher street standards that provide underdrains beneath all curbs and a full drainage mat beneath the street pavement.

Underdrain systems and drainage mats have been used in other jurisdictions for years to relieve subsurface water problems. Kenton County’s mayors believe that subsurface water is a major cause of streets that fail long before their expected design life.

“Most lots that are created today are graded to drain toward the street,” said Scott Hiles, NKAPC’s deputy director for infrastructure engineering. “Over-watering lawns, discharging sump pumps, and rainfall drain to the street and destroy the integrity of the street’s foundation. Underdrain systems can relieve this problem by giving the water a way to drain into a storm sewer and away from the street.”

New subdivision streets are designed and built with the expectation that they will last at least 20 years before needing major repairs. Many cities in Kenton County have reported that a significant number of new streets aren’t lasting half that time before requiring thousands of dollars of repairs. Because cities own these failing streets, repairs must be funded with tax dollars.

Kenton County’s Mayors’ Group believes that developers should pay to construct these streets to a higher standard in the first place rather than the entire community paying to rebuild them later with limited tax dollars. The group says that constructing to a higher standard will produce streets that last which will ultimately save taxpayer dollars for more critical needs.

The November 19th vote by the Mayors’ Group represented a culmination of work that began late last winter. Since July, a committee of Mayors’ Group representatives worked with representatives of the Home Builders Association to reach consensus on the 13 recommended additions to the draft document. Other recommended modifications included increasing flexibility with respect to curbs and multi-use paths and eliminating old design practices that have proved problematic for street maintenance and snow removal. With the exception of the street underdrain issue, the Mayors’ Group reached consensus with local builders on all of the other recommended modifications.

The Mayors’ Group recommendation is now in the hands of the Kenton County Planning Commission, the group that is ultimately responsible for adopting the new regulations. The Planning Commission is well into a several-month process of its own to review the staff’s document and recommendations from a number of groups including homebuilders and mayors.

A public hearing and final action on the draft document is slated for the spring of 2012. Copies of staff’s draft regulations are available on nkapc.org.