Planning Commission acts on Villa Hills planned unit development

The Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) issued two favorable recommendations last week on a proposed mixed-use development in the City of Villa Hills. The applications will be heard next by the city council at its February meeting, where council members will have final authority over the application.

The two requests seek to amend the city’s zoning text and to place the new zoning classification on the 86-acre site. In its action to approve, the KCPC found the development will implement goals, objectives, and recommendations of both the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan and the 2017 Villa Hills Study.

A marathon public hearing lasting over five hours preceded the KCPC vote. It included presentations and testimony from dozens of people. Over 350 people attended. Those who spoke on the record included the current property owner, applicant team, proponents of the project, representatives from an organized opposition group, and opponents of the project.

The property, currently owned by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, was the subject of a recent comprehensive planning analysis conducted by PDS on behalf of the Sisters and the City of Villa Hills.

“The Villa Hills Study examined multiple existing conditions, marketplace trends, and future projections to provide guidance for potential uses on the site,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager.

“The study’s task force reviewed the site’s physical attributes, gathered and assessed public input from two open forums, considered findings of an independent market analysis and a traffic study, evaluated interviews of local and regional development experts, and contemplated fiscal examinations of different land use types before making recommendations. Those recommendations were unanimously approved by the city and KCPC, making the study the official comprehensive plan for the area.”

After the plan was approved in March 2017, the Sisters issued a request for proposals from developers.

“It was important to us that we use the study that had just been approved as we looked for someone to develop the site,” explained Sister Mary Catherine Wenstrup, Prioress of the St. Walburg Monastery. “We initiated the project for the purpose of funding our retirement liability then shortly learned this [development] could be a way to do something new and special for the area. Of the proposals we received, Ashley's met all our goals. We are grateful to all who worked so hard to implement the study.”

Ashley Commercial Group’s Sanctuary development proposal encompasses 86 acres of mostly vacant land in northwestern Villa Hills. The company’s design incorporates elements of traditional neighborhood design such as varying housing types, houses oriented closer to the street, alleyways, neighborhood commercial that adds value to the development, active transportation amenities, and recreation and open space that is accessible to everyone in Villa Hills.

The project’s approved plan includes single- and multi-family residential, detached and attached housing, senior cottages, two buildings totaling approximately 43,000 square feet of mixed commercial and residential uses, over 17 acres of open space, and a public overlook of the Ohio River. Ashley indicated the anticipated price points will range from $250,000 to over $1M.

The date, time, and location of the Villa Hills City Council meeting to take final action on the plan are yet to be determined. Visit the city’s website for the latest information.