Entries for 2014

Building codes department maintains strong ISO rating for community

Posted on August 15, 2014

Every five years ISO—the Insurance Services Office—assesses building codes administration programs in communities around the world and evaluates those communities’ commitments to enforce them. Kenton County’s most recent assessment came earlier this year when ISO personnel visited PDS and met with staff in its building codes administration department.

This program assesses the risk of buildings for insurance rating purposes. Any building constructed in the year ISO classifies a community, or in a later year, is eligible for the program. Buildings in communities with classifications of 9 and lower (down to 1) receive a rating credit. A classification of 10 receives no credit. Classifications of 1–3 receive the highest credit; classifications of 4–9 receive intermediate credits.

Since 2009 when PDS was reviewed last, ISO re-evaluated its program and changed its grading system to make it more challenging to get a lower score. In the ISO grading system a 1 is exemplary and 10 needs major improvements. There are two categories of scores: commercial and residential.

“A lot of data and effort that goes into the evaluation process,” said Brian Sims, CBO, PDS’ chief building official. “It takes a good number of man hours just to collect the data and fill out the survey from. Information from our building department, zoning, GIS, engineering, PVA, and our accounting department must be submitted to complete the survey.”

The result of this year’s assessment was a 3 for PDS on commercial construction and a 4 for residential construction. These are the same ratings the agency earned in 2009 and are among the very highest granted to jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“While on the outside this may seem as though no improvements have been made over the past five years,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director, “PDS maintained its scores during a period when the ratings assessment was made significantly tougher.”

Gordon says some categories are out of his staff’s hands and other local jurisdictions as the adopted building codes in the commonwealth are adopted as mini/maxi codes. That is to say that when the Legislative Research Commission adopts Kentucky’s codes, local communities by default get the score assigned to that category since they cannot make a certain section more or less stringent.

“I’m really proud of what these ratings signify for PDS and what they contribute to the communities we serve,” said Gordon. “PDS is a service organization and I can’t think of a better example of the services we provide than the financial benefits these ratings contribute to property owners.”

ISO is a provider of data, underwriting, risk management and legal/regulatory services (with special focus on community fire-protection efforts and building code effectiveness evaluation) to property-casualty insurers and other clients. The organization serves clients with offices throughout the United States, along with international operations offices in the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, India and China. Ratings earned by rated communities can have a real world impact on insurance premiums that building and home owners pay for coverage.

To read more on ISO’s program, click here.


Enlarged joint code enforcement board ok’d, is ready to hear cases

Posted on August 15, 2014

A new interlocal agreement for Kenton County’s Joint Code Enforcement Board has been signed by all parties and approved by state authorities, enabling the board to start hearing code enforcement cases from the two newest cities to join the board, Villa Hills and Park Hills.

Since enabling legislation was passed in 1996 by the Kentucky General Assembly, most jurisdictions in Kenton County have formed code enforcement boards to help strengthen their municipal codes and keep zoning enforcement issues out of the courts. Kenton Fiscal Court and six of the county’s cities formed the joint code enforcement board in 2006.

In late 2013, the cities of Villa Hills and Park Hills decided to disband their own code enforcement boards in favor of joining the joint code enforcement board. Their decisions to do so hinged largely on the facts that the cooperative effort costs each city much less money and means that each city only has to make one appointment to the board, rather than finding three or five volunteers for their own board.

Historically, many of the cities have found it difficult to find volunteers to keep their own code enforcement boards fully operational. This can result in code violation cases being delayed for several months or even dismissed altogether.

The interlocal agreement that was signed in 2006 forming the joint code enforcement board limited the number of participating jurisdictions to seven, which was the number of communities that chose to participate at the time. The new agreement was drafted to allow additional cities to join without requiring an entirely new contract. Now that all of the cities currently wishing to participate have signed this agreement, the addition of new cities to the board can be seamless.

Current participating member jurisdictions:

City of Crescent Springs
City of Crestview Hills
City of Fort Wright
Kenton County
City of Kenton Vale
City of Park Hills
City of Ryland Heights
City of Taylor Mill
City of Villa Hills


Direction 2030 text is complete; community public hearing next

Posted on August 15, 2014

The three-year effort to develop a new comprehensive plan for Kenton County--Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice--is complete. The recommendations and associated tasks has been finalized and reviewed by the task force; work on the web-based plan is being wrapped up and preparation of necessary documentation is underway for presentation to the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC). That hearing will take place on the evening of September 4th.

State statutes require a public hearing be held prior to action and adoption of the comprehensive plan to allow one last review and public comment.

“This comprehensive plan boasts a brand new set of goals and objectives, after functioning under the same ones for 40 years,” said Paul Darpel, KCPC chairman. “The new plan provides a roadmap and a list of planning priorities for Kenton County. But the most important aspect of this three-year process is that it provided everyone multiple opportunities to participate; and engaged community leaders, residents and elected officials in capacities like never before. We are also excited about the final product that has been produced which is completely web-based – one that may be the first of its kind in the region.”

Comprehensive planning is required to be carried out every five years in Kentucky. A comprehensive plan must be in place to enact zoning and subdivision regulations.

“We take this process very seriously and invest time into it not so much because it is required by state statute. We undertake this because it gives us a chance to interact with the people we serve – the residents of Kenton County. There are so many thoughts and opinions about the future of Kenton County in terms of planning needs; this was a great way to bring it all together,” concluded Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director.

More information about the project can be found at the Direction 2030 website.


STEM: Ripe for the Picking

Posted on August 15, 2014

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Girls Day Out,” Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outing for girls of junior high age on June 27th. Six companies in the area along with PDS participated in the event: ATech Training, Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, Duke Energy, Delta, Messer Construction, and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, NA. Over 70 girls participated with an average of eight girls visiting per site.

STEM is an acronym used in curriculum referring to academic disciplines in K-12 and college. The term is used in the US when discussing competitiveness in technology development across the nation. The idea was first introduced in 2006 with an initiative to increase America’s workforce talent toward engineering and math.

“June 27th was a great day to be at PDS!” said Trisha Brush, GISP, PDS’ director of GIS administration. “We introduced our ten girls to what a day in the geosciences career would be like, gathering data with GPS units and trying their hands at geocaching.”

“We showed them LINK-GIS maps and how local geographic data can be used in the decision-making process. Chris Gephart, a principal at Bayer and Becker Engineering and Kentucky registered land Surveyor, helped the group find a survey pin in the field by using GPS and paper map.”

The day ended with lunch, questions, and answers with the geoscience and survey professionals.

STEM Girls Day Out was a free experiential learning opportunity for female students across Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati. The Girls Day Out program was designed to promote interest in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math). The workshops allowed for personal and in-depth career exploration.


OKI adopts new Kenton transportation priorities into regional plan

Posted on August 15, 2014

PDS and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) staffs began updating the 2003 Kenton County Transportation Plan last summer. The project included a completely-new examination of mobility issues and recommendations for Kenton County. Upon its formal adoption in June, the new plan became the official transportation planning document for the county and part of OKI’s transportation priorities for the metro area.

The study encompassed numerous phases throughout the yearlong effort. Some of the key points of the project included: technical analysis of GIS data; outreach to the public via an online survey; working sessions with planners and transportation professionals from around the county; key-person interviews with stakeholders; a public meeting; and, direction from a multidiscipline advisory team.

The plan also involved an in-depth review of areas where land uses were expected to intensify and assess their implications on future transportation needs.

“We knew a stronger connection between land use and transportation was needed before we even got started on the plan’s text,” explained James Fausz, AICP, PDS’ lead on the study team. “A lot of transportation plans look at where development has occurred and make plans to retrofit wider roads. Our idea was to consider where future development is anticipated and use that information to help rank projects.”

The effort resulted in a Future Land Use Demands map that identifies areas where commercial, industrial, and residential uses are likely to intensify. Transportation engineers then interpreted the uses and acreages to produce trip generation figures and show how many additional vehicles might be expected in an area.

Sixty-six recommendations were crafted by the professionals and advisory team and incorporated into the final plan. Projects were multimodal in nature and included recommendations such as: sidewalk construction to fill gaps in the existing network; bicycle amenities; transit enhancements; and, new/improved roadway facilities. The recommendations also included cost estimates for design, utilities, rights of way, and construction to help provide a guide for prioritization.

“The plan does a great job of addressing the needs for Kenton County moving forward,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, who is both PDS’ executive director and a member of the OKI Board of Directors. “Not only will the recommendations be used to make our projects eligible for funding through OKI, the document also serves as the basis of the mobility section of the new Direction 2030 comprehensive plan.”

The Kenton County Transportation Plan was adopted by the OKI Board of Directors on June 12, 2014, becoming the county’s official transportation planning document. Furthermore, the plan is completely web based and available online here.


Progress for Tuscany Condominiums

Posted on August 08, 2014
Work is underway on the last sections of the Tuscany Condominiums in Covington. Major slope stabilizations and re-routing sewer lines will continue through the summer. When this phase is completed an additional three condominium buildings will be ready to build. Currently, from work done in previous phases, two buildings are in various stages of construction.

View the preliminary plan

NKAPC completes review of operations effort with name change

Posted on July 01, 2014
In a move that more effectively describes the scope of services it provides, the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) is changing its name to Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, or PDS.

The change is effective July 1, 2014 and will bring clarity to an organization that while important to the community is often misunderstood.

“Planning and Development Services of Kenton County reflects the true mission of the organization as a service provider on behalf of the county’s 20 local governments,” said former Fort Wright Mayor Tom Litzler, Chairman of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission.

“The new name truly reflects the service area of the organization, not the greater Northern Kentucky community, which was the original mission of the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission as envisioned by Northern Kentucky’s legislative delegation in 1960,” Litzler said.

The name change to PDS will put an end to the confusion created by two connected organizations that both used the term ‘planning commission’ in their names: the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“The confusion that surrounded those two names was always present,” said Dennis Gordon, executive director of the organization. “That unfortunate fact seemed to always cloud the real story which was that as parts of a team, the planning commission and staff were working together to serve the citizens of Kenton County as the law intended.”

Responsibilities assigned to the two bodies by state statute never overlapped over the years, said Gordon. They actually complemented each but “you’d never have known that based on public perception,” he asserted.

A communications assessment conducted for NKAPC in 2011 found that the public’s number one problem with the organization was confusion about the services that NKAPC provides and how they differ from those provided by the Kenton County Planning Commission.

Two other planning bodies will also have new names:
•    The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council—the agency’s governing body made up of one elected official from each of the County’s 20 jurisdictions—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Council.
•    Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission—the seven-member board selected by the Council to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the agency and staff—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Management Board.

The name of the Kenton County Planning Commission will remain the same since it is this body charged by state statutes with pursuing planning and zoning responsibilities for all Kenton County communities.

Consideration of the name change began following a 2011 petition drive focused on eliminating NKAPC. The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council launched a comprehensive look at the organization and how it was operating.

The agency’s finances, staffing, administration, operations, and more were included in the assessment, and 16 recommendations to improve the organization’s efficiencies and effectiveness were made.

After a two-year effort completing the objectives set forth in those recommendations, officials turned to the confusion and false perceptions created by the NKAPC name. In the end, they decided that the name needed to be changed.

“The operational changes were made to make the organization more efficient, understandable, accountable, and transparent,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Vice-Chairman of the newly-christened PDS Management Board. “They provide a more responsive way of providing services to residents, communities, and businesses… and the name is reflective of that fact.

“Accountability is a hallmark of PDS,” Meier said. “These changes were made in part to ensure that the organization continues to be responsive to the concerns of the community as it has for the past 53 years.”

PDS offers a wide array of services – planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, building codes administration, GIS mapping, and a One Stop Shop program for codes enforcement. It also provides technical support to first-responders in times of emergency, all of which makes the community better, safer, and more professionally planned and developed.

PDS also facilitates economic development by working closely and professionally with elected officials, economic development professionals, real-estate developers, utility providers, and the construction industry in general.

“This collaborative services model saves taxpayer dollars by providing planning and development services on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments, which don’t have to hire staff individually to provide these services,” Litzler said. “PDS works in concert with these local governments to provide services, answer questions and concerns, staffs their planning commission, and ensures that these communities are developed (and redeveloped) in a healthy, safe, and effective way.”

Steve Hensley, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Kenton County, said PDS plays a vital role in public safety, including planning for and responding to natural disasters.

As an example, Hensley points to the 2012 tornadoes in Southern Kenton County that took four lives, destroyed 88 homes, and damaged 257 more.

PDS building inspectors arrived immediately after the storms subsided and assisted the relief effort by ensuring that storm-damaged buildings were inhabitable.

“At one time we had 15 building inspectors, checking on structures that were damaged,” Hensley said. “We needed to know if the buildings were safe or unsafe and if they needed to be condemned. They were there without hesitation, and stayed until job was done. To me that shows dedication to the community.”

PDS also assists local emergency planning and response efforts by helping identify storm warning siren locations, mapping flood plains, and using its GIS system to help first responders in emergency situations.

“Most people don’t realize all that (PDS) does in this community,” said Hensley, the former police chief and city administrator of Fort Mitchell. “They are very, very good when it comes to planning and zoning, but they also make our community safer and they make local government more efficient.”

Direction 2030 Public Open House

Posted on June 11, 2014
Major Milestone Approaching for Kenton County’s Future

Planning for Kenton County’s future is approaching a major milestone. The area‐wide comprehensive plan, Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice, is nearing completion. The citizens of Kenton County are invited to review the components of the plan a final time before a formal application is submitted to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

What: Public Open House
When: There will be two sessions on June 18, 2014; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.   Rain Date: June 23, 2014
Where: The Clock Tower at Crestview Hills Town Center; 2791 Town Center Boulevard, Crestview Hills, KY
Why: This plan is important! The world is a different place than it was 10 years ago, and research indicates that it will continue to change. Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a strategy to address the challenges and possibilities of the next 20 years and aimed at making Kenton County competitive in the local, national, and global economies.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice
is a community planning initiative centered on public input. Over 70 meetings were held with the public, small groups, and business and civic leaders. From this input, several themes emerged:
  • Different generations have different, and sometimes competing, desires.
  • Different areas of the county have different needs and desires. While Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice paints broad brush strokes over the entire county, more focused planning efforts are needed for the Rural, Suburban, First‐Ring Suburban, and Urban Core areas.
  • It is important to seek out ways that resources can be used more wisely and efficiently to serve the residents of Kenton County.
  • Jobs and economic competitiveness are paramount issues that need to be addressed for Kenton County to be a desirable place to live for all generations.
Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice makes recommendations on eight specific elements that are important for growth in Kenton County. These recommendations are based on brand new Goals and Objectives for the county. This is the first time in over 40 years that a new set of Goals and Objectives are guiding the recommendations of the plan.

Another new concept that Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice introduces is that it will be an entirely web based plan. Gone are the days of massive documents that are difficult to navigate and hard to find relevant information. The streamlined web‐based plan will make it easier for everyone to locate the information they seek without paging through a document or sifting through large PDFs.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a plan that reflects the values of the residents of Kenton County. This plan is the quintessential way that residents can have a say in how local resources are used, and determine how future growth occurs in Kenton County.

More information is available on the project’s website: www.direction2030.org.

NKAPC senior planner receives KAPA award

Posted on May 27, 2014
NKAPC senior planner Andy Videkovich (right) receives this year's Young Planner Award from Kentucky American Planning Association (KAPA) president Ryan Libke. This distinction goes to a 35-year old or younger candidate in Kentucky who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to leadership, professional development and the advancement of the field of planning.

Congratulations, Andy!

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on May 23, 2014
We hear a lot about the growing demand for communities where people can walk and bike safely. Urban Land, the online magazine of the Urban Land Institute, asked developers working in Houston, London, Memphis, Nashville, and Seattle to share their experiences with the market for walkable and bicycle-friendly development.

Read these developers’ experiences on accommodating walking and cycling into their new developments. As always, they’re provided here for whatever they’re 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 today’s land use planning issues.
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