Entries for 2016

Regional ‘Food Summit’ to bring groups together on healthy food issues

Posted on March 04, 2016

Save the date Monday, March 28th! Eat Healthy NKY is holding a Food Summit at Turkey Foot Middle School from 3:00 to 8:00 PM showcasing healthy eating habits, local food production, and food preparation in our region.

“We’re really excited to be organizing this event,” said Michael Ionna, AICP, a PDS principal planner.  “Our guests can expect an open house with information booths covering a wide variety of topics important to our local food system—from production and distribution to consumption and food waste.”

The summit will cover several topics like how to eat healthy on the go, where to purchase local food, the benefits school and community gardens, and what is food policy and how can it improve our community’s quality of life. Speakers and panel discussions will be featured throughout the event.

“Attendees should plan on bringing their appetites,” explained Emi Randall, AICP, PDS’ director of planning and zoning. “Part of what we want people to see is that eating healthier can include eating delicious food. The cuisine provided will highlight food production in our region utilizing a variety of ingredients and products produced by local artisans and farmers.”

The event is also family friendly. A kids’ zone will be available from 5:00 to 8 PM and will feature a variety of fun activities including a seed starting booth hosted by the UK Agriculture Extension Office. Additionally, the Northern Kentucky Health Department’s mascot will be at the event and guests are encouraged to let the world know they are at the event!

“We have a full slate of events scheduled for the evening so no matter when you attend there will be something exciting going on,” Ionna continued. “Ultimately, the goal of the event is to reach as many people as possible and provide them with a positive experience where they can educate themselves about food system issues and of course, enjoy some tasty chow while doing so!”

Full details for the event and registration is available online at this Evenbrite.com webpage. Because of the large turnout expected, space is limited so make sure that you reserve your place by registering early.

The event is being sponsored by Eat Healthy NKY, an outreach campaign to educate members of the public about healthy food options. To learn more about this initiative, click here.

Planning Commission charges staff to craft ‘mini cell tower’ regulations

Posted on March 04, 2016

The meteoric change and growing demand of personal cell services has put a strain on local cell service providers to offer better and faster coverage to every corner of Kenton County. This has prompted the introduction a new distribution method called distributed antenna systems (DAS). A DAS is a way to deal with isolated spots of poor coverage and/or capacity within a community.

Kenton County communities are already receiving requests to install distributed antenna systems within their jurisdictions.

“Villa Hills was first approached for permission to install DAS sites in March of 2015,” said Craig Bohman, the Villa Hills City Administrator/Clerk. “The City Administration Office has received a couple of calls about low signal strength, both of which come from areas where proposed mini towers would be nearby.”

Distributed antenna systems are typically located within rights of way and provide coverage within a 300 to 400 yard radius of the tower. In most instances, the poles used are only slightly taller than typical utility poles. They can be very simple wood poles, but they can also be made out of other materials and in other colors so as to fit better into its surroundings.

“According to state law, new cell towers fall to the Kenton County Planning Commission to review and approve,” said Andy Videkovich, PDS’ planning manager who is overseeing the process. “State law was drafted at a time when large, freestanding towers (also called macro sites) were the norm. Distributed antenna systems are considered towers by the definitions of state law, but since the laws were drafted to regulate only macro sites, they do not do an adequate job regulating these mini cell towers.”

All the engineering, application submittal requirements, and notification requirements required by state law are overly prohibitive to allow mini cell sites into Kenton County’s communities, according to Videkovich.

“The initial confusion over whether or not the mini cell towers fell under the same rules as regular cell towers definitely slowed the process,” says Bohman, “Further, the lack of regulation on how to blend in these new towers into existing residential communities also delayed their installation.”

Distributed antenna systems can provide many benefits to a community. One benefit is public safety. As more and more homes in Kenton County give up their land lines, it is important that cell coverage and capacity throughout the county is strong enough so someone in their basement, for instance, can make calls to 911 in an emergency.

Just as important for first responders is finding your location. These distributed antenna systems will improve the accuracy of a cell phone’s GPS locator from within buildings so first responders can locate a person during an emergency more easily.

The Kenton County Planning Commission and PDS staff have been working to update the county’s regulations to address this new technology. In meeting with local elected and appointed officials, it is clear that Kenton County communities see the need to have these regulated.

At the same time, local cell service providers have expressed frustration that current state laws prohibit the deployment of these systems. Meeting all the current state law requirements is cost prohibitive for what is in essence the construction of a specialized utility pole.

“The design of the mini towers is important. While strong signal strength for wireless devices is an amenity that adds to a community’s quality of life, other amenities such as the look and feel of a community also add value,” according to Bohman. “There should be a way to deploy this new wireless platform without negatively impacting the planned aesthetics of an area.”

The goal of these new regulations is to make sure that there are practical and reasonable safeguards in place that will help protect the community from a proliferation of unsightly poles. The Planning Commission has also recognized that there is a need for better coverage, and a complete exclusion of distributed antenna systems will not provide the citizens of Kenton County with the best coverage possible.

“As more and more wireless devices are placed in use, there will be a greater demand on signal use. Having the mini cellular technology would address low signal strength in some areas,” concluded Bohman.

PDS Council elects new officers, fills four seats on management board

Posted on March 04, 2016

The PDS Council—the governing body for Planning and Development Services of Kenton County—met for its annual organizational meeting the last week in January. Representatives of most Kenton County governments were present. Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman was elected the council’s president for 2016; Lakeside Park Mayor Dave Jansing was re-elected vice president and Elsmere Mayor Marty Lenhof was re-elected secretary. All terms run through January next year.

In another voting procedure, councilmembers elected four individuals to serve two-year terms on the PDS Management Board. Elected were former Fort Wright mayor Tom Litzler, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Independence Administrator Chris Moriconi, and Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone.

Litzler, Meier, and Moriconi serve on the Board currently. Mattone will replace long-time board member and former Fort Mitchell mayor Bill Goetz who chose not to run for re-election.

Three other individuals serve on the Management Board, having been elected in 2015 to two-year terms. They are Covington Mayor Sherry Carran, Kenton County Commissioner Beth Sewell, and former Taylor Mill mayor Mark Kreimborg.

As directed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the PDS Council provides a forum in which Kenton County planning issues can be debated and consensus achieved. With a membership of elected officials only, the Council is also responsible for final review of the organization’s annual budget and the tax rate that funds it.

True to its name, the seven-member Management Board oversees the professional staff, sets policy to achieve the Council’s direction, and provides oversight for the daily operations of the organization.

Others included on the ballot for seats on the Management Board were Fort Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman, Elsmere Administrator Alex Mattingly, and Park Hills Councilman Monty O’Hara.

Edgewood disbands its code enforcement board to join joint board

Posted on March 04, 2016

The Edgewood City Council voted unanimously during its December 7 meeting to disband its code enforcement board and join the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board. Edgewood becomes the 11th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, an alliance of local jurisdictions staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Edgewood City Administrator Brian Dehner stated, “Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, the City of Edgewood will benefit in getting these concerns filled.”

“If property owners decide to appeal their case we know the Joint Code Enforcement Board members will be trained, have legal representation present during all meetings to provide them with legal advice and an experienced board that hears cases every month. Another benefit is our city administrative staff will no longer have to administer the city’s Code Enforcement Board, allowing the staff to work on other job duties,” said Dehner.

Membership of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction. The Board provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Board meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

Done! OKI Board approves final section of KY 536 corridor alignment

Posted on March 04, 2016

The KY 536 Scoping Study, begun by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments in fall 2014, was adopted last month on a unanimous vote by the OKI Board of Directors. The vote was the last action step necessary to identify the full alignment for improvement of the corridor across Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties.

OKI launched this study to identify the transportation issues in this corridor that need to be addressed in order to improve access, mobility and safe travel while enhancing the economic vitality of the region. The goal of the KY 536 Scoping Study was to reach consensus on a recommended alternative for the corridor from KY 17 to the Licking River.

The improvement plan recommended by the study’s project development team—which echoed the public’s responses—is the off-alignment option. This alternative follows the existing KY 536 east from KY 17 and shifts north onto a new segment as it approaches KY 16 to realign with KY 536 near Maverick Road. This shift redirects traffic north of White’s Tower Elementary School in accordance with feedback received from the public.

The alternative then follows the existing KY 536 until one-half mile west of Staffordsburg Road where it veers north onto a new alignment connecting directly with the existing Visalia Bridge. Between KY 17 and Staffordsburg Road Connector, this alternative is a three-lane road. From the Staffordsburg Road Connector to the Campbell County line, this alternative become a two-lane road, with the exception of an 11-foot climbing lane that would be constructed to assist trucks traveling westward from KY 177 to the crest of the Visalia Hill west of Mann Road.

To accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel, this alternative includes eight-foot multi-use paths on both sides of KY 536, from KY 17 to KY 16, and a ten-foot multi-use path on one side of the roadway east of KY 16. The estimated cost of this off-alignment option is $86.5 million.

Public input was integral to this study. Through three open houses, three online public comment periods, and input from residents and stakeholders shared by the project development team, a good deal of feedback was received from the public.

Robyn Bancroft, the study’s project manager, believes the “entire KY 536 Scoping Study process has resulted in a recommendation that balances the concerns of local property owners who will be most directly impacted by future improvements with the transportation needs of the region at large.”

The identification of an improvement plan for this regionally-significant corridor prepares it for the future phases of development, engineering, design and funding.

The KY 536 Scoping Study Final Report and supporting documents can be found by visiting the OKI website
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