Collaboration on tornado aftermath

After the storms of March 2, efforts to facilitate the rebuilding of homes in that area of Kenton County began immediately. NKAPC staff began a comprehensive review of the area and of the Kenton County Zoning Ordinance to ensure that property owners would be able to rebuild their homes and barns with a minimum of red tape.

It was quickly discovered that many properties in this area had homes or barns that fall under a category known in the zoning code as a “nonconforming” structure. This means that these structures were most likely built prior to the adoption of the current zoning code and, as a result, do not meet one or more of the zoning regulations for that zone. It also means that these structures would have to go through an extra step in the process of rebuilding, with the possibility that they may not be allowed to be rebuilt as they were.

NKAPC staff quickly brought this situation to the attention of the Kenton County Fiscal Court and advised that there were options that might make this process less cumbersome for the property owners and could ultimately permit some reconstruction that would not have otherwise been allowed. The fiscal court instructed staff to work pre-emptively with the Kenton County Board of Adjustment to resolve the situation with the least amount of hassle to the affected property owners. The fiscal court also passed resolutions to support this effort and to instruct staff to halt all code enforcement activities in this area to allow property owners to get debris cleaned up without the risk of incurring code violations.

Planning staff used information gathered by NKAPC building inspectors to inventory damaged “nonconforming” buildings. Most of these were either too close to a property line or had more structures on the property than were allowed. This inventory was then presented to the Kenton County Board of Adjustment, who had the option of either discontinuing those nonconforming uses or allowing them to be rebuilt.

The Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to allow all structures on the inventory list to be rebuilt the way they were prior to the storms, provided that they would attain the appropriate permits and did not expand the nonconformity of the structure. The board also provided an 18 month window for attaining building permits. If a property owner seeks a building permit to rebuild a nonconforming structure after that 18 month period, then that request must be resubmitted to the Kenton County Board of Adjustment for further review.

It should be noted that any property owner who chooses to rebuild a structure but changes the specifications to meet the current zoning code will not be subject to the above review.

To date, 42 storm-related building permits have been issued by NKAPC in this area, 27 of which were nonconforming structures that were allowed to be rebuilt because of this process, initiated by NKAPC staff. All permit fees were also waived for these permits to help minimize the headaches involved in getting residents back to their lives.