Entries for 2013

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on December 17, 2013
The US Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have developed a "Location Affordability Portal" (LAI) which estimates the typical cost of housing and transportation as a percentage of household income in communities across the US including Kenton County. The bottom line is that walkable, non-car-centric areas tend to be more affordable.

You can access the portal here.

Because what is “affordable” is different for everyone, you can choose among a diverse set of family profiles—which vary by household income, size, and number of commuters—and see the affordability landscape for each one in your neighborhood, city, or region.

The housing and transportation cost estimates indicate how much a particular household profile would pay if they lived in a given block group between 2006 and 2010. To customize your housing and transportation expenses using current market costs, use My Transportation Cost Calculator.

The LAI can help individuals, planners, and researchers get a more complete understanding of the costs of living in a given location by accounting for variations between households, neighborhoods, and regions, all of which impact affordability

This portal provides some interesting scenarios regardless of whether you believe the basic premise of its existence. Check it out for whatever it’s worth.

Views expressed in this article do not reflect an official position or policy of the NKAPC. The article is presented here to provide input for those interested in land use planning issues.

Staff members burnish their skills in other professional roles

Posted on December 17, 2013
NKAPC staff members have a long history of giving back to this community and to their professions—and ultimately Kenton County—through service to organizations that help further NKAPC’s goals, improve their skills, and maintain their professional certifications. That history continues through to today.

“Our elected officials have expected us to be involved in local and state organizations since back in the early 70’s,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “These involvements—which have included serving as board members and officers, state presidents, and even as a national president—provide these staff with a wealth of experiences that ultimately benefit Kenton County. Staff get to burnish their credentials and gain leadership experiences that help them be more effective in their jobs.”

Five NKAPC staffers have been elected or appointed to leadership roles with outside organizations recently.

Martin Scribner, AICP, the agency’s planning and zoning director, was elected chair of the New Urbanism Division of the American Planning Association (APA). The APA provides leadership for citizen and professional planners in the development of vital communities. The New Urbanism Division provides planners, public officials, and other decision makers with the information, support, and tools needed to eliminate restrictive conventional development regulations and allow New Urbanism patterns to be incorporated in all communities.

Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager at NKAPC was elected chair of the Northern Kentucky Forum for 2014 after serving on the board for two years. The Forum is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy partnership whose mission is to inform, educate, and engage citizens of Northern Kentucky in free forums on topics, issues, current events, and policies that affect Northern Kentucky. As chair, she will oversee events scheduled to be held in 2014 and assist board members in planning and implementing events on topics that are pertinent to the Northern Kentucky community.

James Fausz, AICP, principal planner at NKAPC, was elected a regional representative to the board of APA Kentucky Chapter. In this role, he will represent citizen and professional planners in northern and northeastern Kentucky. Fausz looks forward to the opportunity of setting up and coordinating training events and networking sessions so that planners in our area can be engaged. Aside from representing planners and planning events, Fausz will be responsible for working on the chapter development plan, reviewing and adopting the annual budget, and helping set overall direction.

Principal planner Jenna LeCount, AICP, has served as a member of the Leadership Steering Committee for LEGACY for more than a year. LEGACY is a young professionals’ network in Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky which provides opportunities for YPs to develop professionally and personally and to contribute more fully to their community. LeCount was recently appointed as the Community Committee chair where she will focus her efforts on projects intended to impact and improve the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. Currently, LeCount is leading this committee to establish an annual Row-n-Run event to enhance LEGACY’s visibility and outreach in the community.

John Lauber, one of NKAPC’s senior building code officials, was re-elected to the office of Treasurer for Northern Kentucky Building Inspectors Association (NKBIA).  The NKBIA is an association dedicated to improving the standards of building code enforcement practices and establishing uniform interpretations of all applicable codes in Northern Kentucky. NKBIA’s mission is to bring together individuals engaged in the administration and enforcement of building and other related codes to share information, experience and policy, exchange ideas, discuss mutual problems, and establish uniform interpretation of all applicable codes.


Staff provides hands-on GIS support for NKU and TMC students

Posted on December 17, 2013
Helping users get the most of their interactions with LINK-GIS has always been a goal of NKAPC staffers. During the month of November, they stepped up their efforts and took to the road for several technical venues.

Christy Powell, GISP, senior GIS programmer, and Joe Busemeyer, GISP, principal GIS programmer led hands-on workshops for those wanting to expand their usage of linkgis.org. Morning and afternoon sessions filled quickly with employees from public and private entities. The two-hour sessions covered basic and advanced tips and tricks for the website and offered the attendees the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions of the website developers. Some of the suggestions from the workshop have already been implemented on the website.

Kyle Snyder, GISP, principal GIS specialist facilitated GIS training at Northern Kentucky University on November 21st and 22nd. The first day provided an introduction/refresher to those using Esri’s Arc Map and LINK-GIS data; the second day focused on editing in Esri’s Arc Map. Esri is the industry leader in GIS software. This training session focused on increasing familiarity not only the Esri’s products but also showing GIS professionals from around area data that is available through the LINK-GIS partnership. Participants attended from Tri-Ed, Kenton County Public Works, Northern Kentucky Water, Campbell County Planning, NKU’s Center of Environmental Restoration, Kenton County Schools, and the Campbell County Solid Waste Department.

Nick Brophy, manager of economic development at Northern Kentucky Tri-ED said, "I felt the ArcMap training session was very well organized and structured in a way where we gained relevant knowledge through practical application projects assigned to each topic of the course.”

Powell and Busemeyer visited Thomas More College later in the month to demonstrate the LINK-GIS website map-viewer capabilities to Professor Shannon Galbraith-Kent’s class. That class consisted of about 15 students (mostly environmental science and biology majors) in one of the available computer labs on campus. The students picked up the capabilities of the LINK-GIS website map viewer quickly and what it has to offer.

Students explored areas they are familiar with in Northern Kentucky. They compared current aerial photography with historic aerial photography. They also learned how to query multiple data layers to gather information about their community, including the intricacies of the many tools available on the interactive map.

The visit sparked additional interest with Thomas More College to acquire GIS software and begin providing classes to their students on how to use it. Feedback from this class was very positive and new relationships were formed.

If you are interested in attending a future workshop or would like the GIS staff to conduct a workshop at your location, contact a staff member for details.

Subdivision street construction still underway in Kenton County

Posted on December 17, 2013
Subdivision development and new street construction during 2013 showed a dramatic increase when compared to the last several years. What’s more, both have continued late into the construction season this year.

“We haven’t seen street construction continue this late in the year for some time”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of infrastructure engineering. “We’re even aware of a developer of a subdivision in Independence who wants to construct another five hundred feet of street yet this year if the temperatures cooperate.”

The majority of this activity is being seen in the cities of Independence and Erlanger, where development activity was most prevalent before the decline initiated by the Great Recession. New subdivision construction has also seen this year in Villa Hills and the unincorporated portion of the County.

Undoubtedly aided by the mild temperatures and relatively low amount of rainfall in the late fall, just over 3,000 feet of new pavement was constructed in November and the first part of December.

In years past it wasn’t uncommon for some asphalt plants to shut down asphalt production before the Thanksgiving holiday, and because of the cold temperatures, concrete streets weren’t able to be constructed much later than that either.

Overall, 9,000 feet of new street was constructed in in 2013. This represents more than twice the total of all street that was constructed in 2011 and 2012 combined.

“In looking back through our records, the amount of street constructed this year puts us close to the level of subdivision activity we saw in 2008 and 2009”, Hiles said. “It’s also a good sign for future activity that developers paid inspection fees later in the year that weren’t used this year. So it’s likely that this activity will continue into next spring.”


Input and collaboration move transportation plan forward

Posted on December 17, 2013
NKAPC and OKI staff knew that engaging Kenton County drivers was critical to the crafting of a new transportation plan for the county. So, they asked them for their opinions on mobility in the county including all modes from pedestrians to freight.

“We wanted to hear about issues from people who are traveling around the county every day,” said Robyn Bancroft, AICP, Strategic Planning Manager for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. “We created an online survey that was open for over two months and received about 500 responses. They included opinions about pedestrian and bicycle traffic, commuting patterns, and even freight transportation concerns. We’re currently reviewing them to make sure we consider all concerns as we begin drafting improvement recommendations.”

Planners from both agencies met recently with residents and officials in southern Kenton County to discuss the unique needs of that section of the county. The Southern Kenton County Citizens Group, which arose from interest stemming from a Direction 2030 public meeting, has been meeting regularly since that meeting in December 2011; its members participated in this meeting.

“The group has been very active on a variety of issues, and they were particularly interested in discussing transportation,” explained James Fausz, AICP, a principal planner for NKAPC. “We met, discussed their interests and concerns, and came away with a clear picture of what the attendees desired – safer and better maintained roadways.”

A cooperative effort was started as a result of the meeting to review maintenance issues and work to prioritize potential solutions for inclusion into the plan. The Kenton County Fiscal Court, Kenton County Public Works, NKAPC, and local residents are now joining forces to create real solutions for rural Kenton County.

Beyond the online survey and south Kenton County meeting, staff has worked with an Advisory Team to provide direction for the study. The team, comprised of local officials, transportation agency representatives, and citizens, meets at key points in the study process and provides insight to further refine areas and issues that need additional study. Input from this team, combined with public outreach efforts and the professional experience of NKAPC and OKI staff, is truly a collaborative effort designed to help make Kenton County multi-modal transportation systems as efficient as possible – today and into the future.

The study is currently wrapping up research into existing and future conditions and is beginning to move into the analysis and recommendations phase of the plan.

There is still time to participate by in the online survey by visiting www.oki.org/kenton/ and sharing your comments through the form at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to receive information regarding the plan via email newsletters, contact James Fausz at jfausz@nkapc.org. For the latest information on the plan, check the NKAPC and OKI websites.

Senior GIS specialist speaks at KACo regarding NextGen 9-1-1

Posted on December 17, 2013
How does Next Generation 9-1-1 differ from our current Enhanced 9-1-1? Why do we need to understand the difference? These questions are what NKAPC staff member Tom East was asked to explain to the 39th Annual Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) Conference held last month at the Galt House in Louisville.

East, a senior GIS specialist, was invited to present to because of his GIS experience, his history of developing address point databases and road centerline layers for LINK-GIS partner organizations, and his understanding of the steps necessary to prepare for the transition to the new technology.

“Explosive growth of cell phone usage and the concurrent decline in land lines is driving this change,” said East. “Enhanced 9-1-1 was designed to work with land lines and callers with fixed locations. The cell phone has completely changed the rules of the game. Add to that the additional capabilities of smartphones—texting, messaging, cameras, video and internet connectivity—and the limits of Enhanced 9-1-1 are quickly exposed. Younger generations in particular expect dispatchers to be able to use these new technologies.”

East continues, “The decline in land lines is reducing the funding stream for dispatch centers, while county and city general funds have been pressured for several years by the state of the economy. All these factors have come together, feeding the ‘perfect storm’ that is driving the change.”

East explained to the attendees that Next Generation 9-1-1 has been designed to handle the new technologies and capabilities while also solving some of the problems Enhanced 9-1-1 cannot.

“Next Generation 9-1-1 is designed with GIS, or computerized maps, at its core. It won’t function without this map which must include roads, dispatch service areas, cell tower locations and address databases. Fortunately, a great deal of this information is already available, but the electronic infrastructure required still needs to be developed and built, along with a solution for the funding issues.”

East participates in a National Emergency Numbering Association (NENA) work group developing recommendations for the creation of address point databases to be used in emergency dispatch systems. Last month he co-chaired the national “Locating the Future” Conference, sponsored by the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and NENA in St. Louis.

Staffer recognized for service to the Kentucky GIS community

Posted on December 04, 2013
The Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP) presents three awards during the annual Kentucky GIS Conference: Exemplary System, Service to KAMP, and Service to the GIS/Mapping Community.

In 2013 the Service to GIS/Mapping Community award was presented to Christy Powell GISP, Senior GIS Programmer at NKAPC. In the peer-submitted nomination it was noted that Powell had performed tremendous service to KAMP’s community-of-practice.

Powell helped review the various iterations of these documents resulting in better and streamlined KAMP governance – positively affecting KAMP’s functionality in serving its community. Most importantly, she has consistently and diligently maintained and improved the public-facing aspect of KAMP. Christy has responded and affected every change requested over the years; this being particularly true during hectic times.

Powell has been in KAMP since its inception in 2003 and was presented the Service to KAMP award in 2006. She has served as a member of two KAMP committees and was the President of KAMP for 2009-2010. Her goal is to continue improving the LINK-GIS system to win the final KAMP award, Exemplary System.

New sirens- A welcome sound to a scarred landscape

Posted on December 04, 2013
On October 23, 2013 in southwestern Kenton County, a siren could be heard echoing over the rolling hills of Kentucky for the first time. The Rotary Club, city officials, representatives from Duke and Owen Electric, Homeland Security, Piner Fire and Police departments, and representatives from the NKAPC were gathered on a Carlisle Road hillside for the new siren dedication.    
        
Not all of the 34 sirens in Kenton County have a plaque, nor was there a special ceremony for them. However, this siren is important because it was needed on March 2, 2012, when an F4 tornado ripped across the Northern Kentucky area destroying 213 homes, damaging another 550 structures, and taking four lives.

In November 2012, Steve Hensley, Director of Kenton County’s Emergency Management contacted the NKAPC GIS department asking to create a map that pinpoints all 33 existing warning sirens across Kenton County. This project utilized software which not only located the sirens, but also illustrated 1- and 2-mile buffers around each one. This map helped determine how well a siren could be heard if it was visible from a certain site and distance.

When the map was finished in December 2012, NKAPC staff members began travelling to specific locations around the county to see if the audibility estimations were correct. Individuals would be ready to conduct a field check during the existing sirens’ monthly tests. Their reports included feedback as to how many sirens could be seen and heard, and the wind direction at that time.

This data was charted to reflect the areas protected and unprotected by the warnings, and the location for Kenton County’s 34th siren was chosen. Through the collaborative efforts of everyone involved, the siren now stands ready.

Click here for WLWT’s coverage of the dedication.

While there is no way to stop tornados from entering our region, it can be made certain that the warning goes out to those communities in danger.

A tribute to an NKAPC Navy veteran

Posted on December 04, 2013
Thanksgiving time in 1968 a young 17-year old Dennis Richard Uchtman took advice from his older brother, who was on leave from the Navy for the holidays, “Join the Navy now!”

After forging his mother’s signature on a required Navy form Uchtman joined the Navy Reserves by signing a six-year commitment.

His first challenge was boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base in the middle of winter. Afterward he did two years on active duty reporting to the USS Wright CC-2 in Norfolk, Virginia. That ship was decommissioned several months later and he was assigned to the USS Belknap DLG 26, the first in its class of guided missile destroyers and to carry the SH-2 helicopter on deployment.  

While on active duty Uchtman traveled to Athens, Greece; Naples, Italy; and his favorite port, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

On ship Uchtman would stand watch on the bridge and volunteer to paint the hull. Many seamen were afraid of heights, but he did not mind sitting on a 12-inch board and dangling over the side of the vessel. He was at home with this job, and liked the peace and quiet.

Uchtman was proud to serve his country and enjoyed his time in the Navy. The best gift he received on Christmas Eve in 1974 was his honorable discharge papers, signed by President Richard Nixon. Thank you for serving, Seaman Uchtman. Anchors aweigh!

Uchtman works in the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department as Codes Administrator, and has been serving the citizens of Kenton County for eight years.

Mayors, engineers come to agreement on street standards

Posted on December 04, 2013
In July 2013 a third roundtable discussion was held between The Kenton County Planning Commission’s Subdivision Regulation Committee, the Mayor’s Group, the NKSPE, HBA and Henry Fischer in an attempt to reach consensus on issues primarily surrounding street design, testing and subsurface drainage. For nearly three years each of these groups had varied recommendations regarding what standards should be included in the Draft Subdivision Regulations for Kenton County.

Unfortunately, the third roundtable meeting failed to find common ground between the groups. However, the Sub Reg Committee used this result as an opportunity to present the groups with a challenge. They asked the groups if they would be willing to form their own committee in one last attempt to find design solutions to these issues that all of them could support together. The groups accepted the challenge and began the task of scheduling meetings.

Within a short time after the last roundtable meeting, representatives from the Mayor’s Group, the NKSPE, HBA and Henry Fischer began meeting twice a week, and by their account they ultimately met a total of 28 times. Their discussions also included various public officials, engineers, representatives from the asphalt industry, local contractors and concrete producers. The results of their efforts culminated in a presentation of their conclusions to the Sub Reg Committee on the evening of November 21, 2013.

As the group began presenting their findings, one of the first statements made was that all of the representatives within the group had reached consensus on all of the recommendations that were about to be discussed.

“I thought it was great when I heard that,” said Paul Darpel, Kenton County Planning Commission Chair. “That was the challenge we gave them; Take the time you need, meet at your own pace and try to find solutions that will result in better infrastructure for Kenton County. It looks like that’s exactly what they did.”

Some of the presentation’s highlights included:

•    A Geotechnical Engineering report required for all projects that would determine if standards needed to be increased.
•    Increased subgrade and pavement cross-slopes to increase water flow to the outside edge of the pavement.
•    Concrete curb and gutter that is supported by an asphalt or aggregate base to increase stability and reduce the penetration of surface water.
•    New concrete curb design and jointing details for concrete streets to lesson maintenance requirements and increase joint durability.
•    Edge drains required at the curb along both sides of the street to facilitate subsurface drainage.
•    New expansion material and installation locations to reduce street creep.
•    An improved concrete and asphalt mix design to increase overall pavement life-span; and
•    New standards for asphalt testing to ensure the material conforms to the new mix design.

These represent only a partial list of the recommended improvements to the street design issue. The group stated that there are a few issues where final design parameters are still being hammered out, but that they expected to finish these details soon. Based on the presentation, the Sub Reg Committee directed staff to begin working with the group to incorporate whatever recommendations could be incorporated now in the Draft Subdivision Regulations, and help establish the final specifications for the issues still being discussed.

“It looks like we’re moving close to adoption,” said Paul Darpel. “Once we make the final revisions to the Draft Regulations and work out the final specifications for the remaining issues, we should be on track to get these adopted in the first quarter of next year.”

The committee concluded by thanking the participants for their dedication to the effort and congratulating them on their ability to find common ground on all of the issues.  

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