Entries for 2014

South Kenton County residents speak up… “Keep it rural”

Posted on April 28, 2014
Citizen opinion surveys are often met with indifference in this age of electronics and instant polling. And yet, a recent questionnaire sent through the mail to more than 3000 South Kenton County residents sparked a good deal of interest and an unprecedented response. Over 1000 were completed and returned.

“I have worked with surveys on many topics around the state of Kentucky for 35 years and have never seen this level of agreement in responses to a survey,” said Dr. Lori Garkovich, Professor and State Extension Specialist in the Department of Community and Leadership Development at the University of Kentucky. “In analyzing the results it is apparent that the general message from the community to public officials is pretty straightforward - keep the area rural.”

Over 94 percent of the responses came from residents who live in southern Kenton County and more than 80 percent of those have lived in the community for over ten years. Garkovich calls this response “unprecedented.”

Respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a series of statements that presented conditions and issues in South Kenton County. Among the most telling responses were these.

"It is important to keep agriculture a viable part of the South Kenton economy."
Strongly Agree: 68.7%        Agree: 23.5%        TOTAL AGREE: 92.2%

"It is important to maintain the rural character of South Kenton County."
Strongly Agree: 70.7%        Agree: 19.3%        TOTAL AGREE: 90.3%

"I am satisfied with my access to commercial and retail stores where I live."
Strongly Agree: 49.3%        Agree: 37.5%        TOTAL AGREE: 86.8%

"Subdivisions and other residential development should be directed away from land which is being used for preservation or conservation purposes."
Strongly Agree: 52.2%        Agree: 31.7%        TOTAL AGREE: 83.9%

"Subdivisions and other residential should be directed away from land which is being used for agriculture."
Strongly Agree: 49.6%        Agree: 30.4%        TOTAL AGREE: 80.0%

"If residential and retail development occurs around these existing communities, it should maintain the small community character of these places."
Strongly Agree: 41.8%        Agree: 38.0%        TOTAL AGREE: 79.8%

On the other hand, when presented with a set of statements that describe development patterns the respondents see as unacceptable, they clearly express their disagreement.

"Subdivisions should be allowed in undeveloped areas."
Strongly Disagree: 36.2%    Disagree: 26.3%    TOTAL DISAGREE: 62.5%

"South Kenton County needs to have more employment centers (e.g., clusters of large employers)."
Strongly Disagree: 28.5%    Disagree: 32.1%    TOTAL DISAGREE: 60.6%

"If the opportunity arose to sell my farm for development, I would take it."
Strongly Disagree: 42.9%    Disagree: 16.0%    TOTAL DISAGREE: 58.9%

Detailed survey results of all questions are available for viewing at on the NKAPC website or in the community section of the Kenton County's Fiscal Court website.

“This survey provides us with a clear message from the community. Citizen responses will have implications on the recommendations we’re crafting for the Direction 2030 comprehensive planning effort,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, Planning Manager at NKAPC.

Additional focus group meetings are being planned to extend the conversation beyond the scope of the survey.


...for whatever it's worth...

Posted on April 11, 2014
Who would ever have thought that Walmart shoppers could sleep upstairs and shop downstairs, but that is exactly what residents of the building housing a new Walmart in downtown Washington, D.C., will be able to do. In December, Walmart opened its first two stores in the nation’s capital, and they illustrate the lengths to which brick-and-mortar retailers will go to get into rapidly growing urban markets.

The 80,000-square-foot store, built in partnership with JBG Rosenfeld Retail, is in a mixed-use building topped by four stories of apartments. Parking is located in a garage directly below the store. Another 10,000 square feet of retail space is wrapped around the outside of the Walmart; initial tenants include a Starbucks and a bank.

Could this concept work in Kenton County, perhaps as an anchor in one of the new form-based code districts adopted by Covington and Independence, or soon in Erlanger? Check out an article that appeared last month in UrbanLand published by the Urban Land Institute… 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.

Direction 2030 seeks input from university population

Posted on April 11, 2014
In response to a growing concern with the exodus of well-educated people from the region, and the lack of participation in past public meetings, NKAPC planners focused a recent online survey on university populations to gauge their preferences in the character of the community in which they live. It also sought preferences on the importance of amenities available to them in the surrounding area.

Those who participated were students and educators attending Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College, and Gateway Community and Technical College.

The results are intended to offer a snapshot of the way young people in Northern Kentucky view our area and how they assess its benefits and shortcomings as a place to live, work, and raise their families. One-hundred one people took the survey, including 47 men and 54 women.

A slight majority of participants (54) reports that they are planning to stay in Northern Kentucky, while 16 plan on moving away, stating reasons such as not enough amenities in the area or not enough employment opportunities. Thirty-one survey participants report that they are uncertain as to their future plans for leaving or remaining in the area.

The majority of participants (54) report that they prefer living in an urban setting; 29 prefer the suburbs; and 14 report that they prefer living in a rural environment.

Participants were asked to rank a series of amenities in categories of importance. Participant responses indicate that these individuals feel very strongly about the amenities listed in the survey.

Category                 Important            Unimportant
Earning potential            83%                     10%
After-hour options          88%                      7%
Green living                    68%                     17%
Walkability                      75%                     14%
Mass transit                   59%                     19%
Outdoor rec facilities     74%                     13%

Unfortunately, Northern Kentucky did not fare well in the respondents’ assessments of the area’s provision of these amenities.

Category                 Favorable             Unfavorable
Earning potential              52%                    38%
After-hour options            54%                    45%
Green living                      23%                    65%
Walkability                        24%                    71%
Mass transit                     30%                    54%
Outdoor rec facilities       47%                    44%

Results of this survey support the conclusion that young adults desire amenities such as after-hour options, walkability, and outdoor recreation facilities. To ensure that Northern Kentucky is a desirable place to live and attracts people to the area, planners, civic leaders, and government officials need to give more attention to the amenities that appeal to the vibrant, young, and highly educated people we want to attract to and retain in this area.

The information obtained through this survey will be incorporated into Direction 2030 along with other public input gleaned throughout the planning process.

Spring brings daffodils, orange barrels, and Envista

Posted on April 11, 2014
As spring approaches, the warmer weather brings daffodils, orange barrels, and traffic slowdowns to Northern Kentucky. To local public works and utility officials, this spring brings the continued opportunity to coordinate pavement and roadway maintenance activities planned for the next six to seven months.

The online LINK-GIS tool called Envista will aid to increase communication and coordination for street cuts and paving projects in Kenton and Campbell Counties. This is the fourth construction season that the online tool will be available. The result will cut down frustrations felt by the motoring public and decrease the need for pavement cuts. Currently Envista shows 211 pavement projects slated for the upcoming 2014 construction season.

Representatives from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, 22 cities, the water and sanitation districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6, Duke Energy, Owen Electric, Insight Cable and Cincinnati Bell are using the software-as-a-service tool to manage projects.

“All participating entities can see current and upcoming projects through the central communication dashboard and can identify conflicts and opportunities to work together,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, NKAPC’s director for LINK-GIS administration.

“The system is only as good as the data that are put into it,” said Brush. “So, in order to make the tool function effectively, NKAPC staff is aiding local governments and utilities currently with project updates and checking their data for information that would be pertinent and useful to others who might be looking at the same street segment.

“Besides the fact that we’re working to save money through coordination, we’re also working to cut down on traffic aggravation and total construction time,” Brush said. “The tool will also help participating entities to use their road construction and maintenance dollars wisely, allowing significant cost savings for rate- and tax-payers.

NKAPC has hosted an Envista user’s group regularly for the past several years for all jurisdictions participating in the program. The user’s group meetings show enhancements to the software and offer face time with the Envista representative for a question and answer period. The user group offers an open environment to provide feedback and best practices, while allowing users to put a face with a name for those with whom they’re coordinating.

“Envista staff are incredibly approachable, and have provided a level of personal service and contact that has enabled us to make good use of Envista,” said Jessica Moss, GIS specialist in Covington’s Community Service Department. “Each time I’ve had a question or an issue, they have been very responsive, usually walking me through every process step by step.”

“When I first started using Envista, it was somewhat overwhelming, but the customer service and technical feedback has allowed me to put it into good use quickly. He takes all of our feedback, questions, and suggestions seriously, finding ways to customize Envista to our specific needs.”

Contact NKAPC staff at 859.331.8980 if you would like to learn more about Envista and how it can assist in saving tax dollars for your community.

NKAPC work prepares Covington for sidewalk repairs

Posted on April 11, 2014
Sidewalk reconstruction began last week in Latonia. The city’s contractor began replacing sidewalks with the lowest condition rating based on a citywide assessment of sidewalks that was conducted by NKAPC staff. The assessment prioritized sidewalks with significant tree root damage, cracking, and crumbling.

The Latonia portion of the project is estimated to be completed during early summer, pending weather conditions. The contractor’s contract also includes work on sidewalks in South Covington, where construction initially began in November. Due to weather delays after a particularly harsh winter, construction is expected to be completed in South Covington in May.

“We’re proud to have been a part of this effort in Covington,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “The pursuit of these data amounted to a win-win for both the city and NKAPC. The city got highly-accurate information and we were able to utilize infrastructure inspectors to pursue the work during their down time. Our GIS system made it all so simple.”

The focus on improving sidewalks is part of Covington’s five-year community investment plan which culminated from citizen requests. It is meant to facilitate the city's commitment to being a walkable community and improving property values.

The Community Investment Plan, which was adopted by the city commission in June of 2013, will invest more than $30 million in infrastructure improvements alone over the next five years. Covington's Community Services Division kicked off its $2.4 million sidewalk replacement project in southern Covington in November of 2013. The project is just one of the $72 million Community Investment Plan projects planned over the next five years.

Villa Hills readies for new development

Posted on April 11, 2014
The first new subdivision in Villa Hills in a decade was approved for construction in April 2012. Named Stillbrooke, the subdivision encompasses nine acres along the east side of Collins Road, approximately 1,700 feet north of Buttermilk Pike. Residents could be moving into their new homes there before Christmas.

The development includes 26 single-family lots and three small areas set aside for park space. Click here to view this preliminary plat.

Construction of the proposed infrastructure continued relatively steadily after subdivision approval throughout 2012 and 2013 and included just over 1,000 feet of new public street and associated public utilities such as water main, fire hydrants, and sanitary and storm sewers.

A unique feature of this subdivision involves sidewalks. In conjunction with support from the city, the developer proposed providing sidewalk along just one side of the new street. Normally sidewalk is required along both sides of all new streets. In exchange the proposal included the commitment to fill in a gap in the sidewalk network along Collins Road.

Subdivision regulations already required new sidewalk to be provided along the portion of the subdivision that fronted Collins Road, which totaled about 500 feet. But from that point, heading toward Buttermilk Pike, there was a gap in the sidewalk network for another 500 feet.

“It was important to the city that this gap in the sidewalk get completed”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “So with the city’s support, the developer obtained a waiver from the Kenton County Planning Commission that allowed him to put sidewalks on one side of the new internal street in exchange for filling this sidewalk gap”.

When this gap is filled, residents will be able walk to nearby amenities such as the community park at the corner of Collins Road and Buttermilk Pike, and shopping and restaurant accommodations as well. Discussion with the developer has recently resolved that this sidewalk gap will be constructed sometime this year.

The recordable plat that will create the 26 lots is pending approval from staff. This approval is required before lots can be transferred to new owners. A few outstanding items have yet to be completed but it appears that the plat will be able to be approved soon. Staff understands that once that approval occurs, builders will be ready to obtain the necessary permits to break ground and begin construction.

Taking Root initiative in tri-state region

Posted on April 09, 2014

Taking Root is an initiative to replace, retain and expand trees in the eight-county Greater Cincinnati tri-state region. The campaign is ramping up to educate the public on the need for trees, to value and care for them, and to plant them — by the millions!

Here’s how to join in:
  • Sign the Taking Root pledge as an individual.
  • Encourage your community or organization to sign the Taking Root pledge, too.
  • Plant a tree and register them to count toward the 2 million tree goal.
  • Donate to help advance the Taking Root campaign.
Visit Taking Root today to learn more!

Social media initiative aims for an informed citizenry

Posted on February 26, 2014
Keeping citizens informed and encouraging public dialog is always a challenge, however technology is playing a growing role in addressing those issues. Since late last year, NKAPC has expanded its online communications and initiated a new social medial strategy.

From the seemingly endless list of social websites, NKAPC is utilizing five familiar avenues now—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. “This isn’t a permanent list, necessarily,” said public information coordinator Pete Berard. “As the popularity, target audiences, and usefulness of these services change over time, so will our use of them.”

These online connections were established to invite discussions regarding local topics and relay information to the public in a more effective way, according to Berard. The posts will include topics such as upcoming meetings, interactive maps, current events, and opinions about new plans for the community.

Berard suggests these outreach efforts will also enhance the functionality of the organization’s website. NKAPC.org already houses thousands of important and useful documents, plans, reports, and forms. It also includes webpages for newsletter registration, discussion forums, and information requests. Adding social media will highlight the website and encourage its use as an informative resource.

Check out these links and stay connected.

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on February 26, 2014
Over the last half century, many debates have centered on which land use is of greater importance, agriculture or development. Several new case studies from the Urban Land Institute show that this debate could now be a thing of the past, at least for some locations.

One such case study looks at Willowsford, a master-planned community in suburban Washington, D.C., with a range of luxury single-family housing and a wealth of amenities, including a working farm that grows more than 200 varieties of produce for residents.

Could it work in Kenton County? Check out the article here… 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.


Inspectors implement new building code requirements

Posted on February 26, 2014
January not only brought on a new year, it also brought the commonwealth new building code regulations. NKAPC building inspectors are administering those new building regulations now as required by law.

Kentucky moved from the 2006 model of the International Building Code to the 2012 model code. This code remains a mini/maxi code, meaning no local jurisdiction can enforce a code more or less restrictive than the model code. And for the first time since its printing of the 2002 Kentucky codes, Kentucky printed its own code with the help of the Code Administrators Association of Kentucky (CAAK), which can be purchased online.

“This is great a thing for all code users in Kentucky,” said Tim Tholemeier, one of NKAPC’s senior building officials. “No longer does one need to read the code and then go to Kentucky’s changes to see if a section has been modified.”

For a complete list of the current codes in Kentucky, click here.

One of the major changes in this new edition is that Kentucky included definitive language relevant to tents and permitting procedures for them. Tents not only need local site placement permits, but must also have model approval from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction. All tents larger than 400 square feet need to be permitted for installation with the exception of private tents.

If you have questions on whether or not a permit is needed, call NKAPC at 859. 957.2408, or you can view the code sections here.

Previous upgrades to the residential code have tried to get automatic fire suppression systems installed in all residential structures. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not adopted this method yet, but other factors now have been added to protect a home.

For instance, floor systems now require a ½ inch gypsum wallboard, 5/8 inch wood structural panel or equivalent applied to the bottom side of all floor framing member unless the building is suppressed, over a crawlspace or the floor assembly uses dimensional lumber equal to or greater than 2-inch by 10-inch nominal lumber.

With more home builders using engineered wood framing members to help with labor costs and use less construction material, other factors which would help ensure the home’s integrity under fire conditions are needed soon.


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