Entries for 'apa'

PDS hosts autonomous vehicle seminar for area wide audience

Posted on January 03, 2017

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” -Yogi Berra

PDS and the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association hosted an autonomous vehicle seminar earlier this month. The session began a discussion of how this advancing technology might change planning practice in Northern Kentucky. More than 30 city officials, planning professionals, and citizens from the eight-county region attended.

The event was one of the first in the region to look at how today’s vision of the future is starting to change how we interact with automobiles.

The discussion was facilitated by three professionals from Columbus, Ohio who have researched the topic extensively and presented to groups across the country. Two planners from OHM Advisors, Justin Robbins, AICP, and Jason Sudy, AICP, along with Rick Stein, AICP, of Urban Decision Group, formed the Urban Mobility Research Center to study the impacts that autonomous vehicles will have on our cities.

 “We’re nearing the end of a massive 70-year development experiment, with a new one about to begin,” said Justin Robbins, AICP. “We’ve created our cities around a specific transportation model, and the introduction of autonomous vehicles will fundamentally disrupt how that current system functions.”

The new technology will have an effect on every person who either drives or rides in a vehicle to get from place to place. With such a high potential impact, the subject is starting to gather the attention of decision makers as well.

“This technology is coming, sooner than later, and it has the potential to impact how we design our infrastructure,” said Brian Dehner, City Administrator for Edgewood. “We could construct narrower streets and not require as many parking spaces. This frees up land for additional economic development and green space. We need to get ahead of this and begin to evaluate this technology and be a region that invites the technology.”

“Autonomous vehicles will not only change how we get from place to place, but also how our cities function. And it will be happening a lot sooner than people think,” said Jason Sudy, AICP, one of the presenters at the event. “For example, significant changes to our roadway infrastructure, public transit services, and our development pattern will all come from the widespread adoption of this technology.”

The well-attended event indicates people are starting to accept the concept and take it more seriously.

“Three or four years ago when we were working on the Kenton County Transportation Study and Direction 2030 comprehensive plan, there were a lot of blank stares or chuckles when I brought up the idea of autonomous vehicles,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager for PDS, APA-KY Region 4 Representative, and organizer of the event.

“People used to think this technology was in the distant future at best, but just a few years later that isn’t the case. Today there are cars with driver assist features that are semi-autonomous and Teslas have been able to drive themselves since 2015. Within ten years we very well may see more autonomous vehicles on the road than those being driven by people,” said Fausz.

“What people tend to forget is that technology progresses on an exponential scale. You can’t get a good sense of its trajectory by looking backwards, because the pace of innovation is always accelerating,” said Rick Stein, AICP, during the presentation.

Autonomous-style features like forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure correction, and blind spot monitoring are available now on numerous auto brands and are precursors to full automation.

“As people become more familiar with these technologies, full automation will likely seem like a small step rather than a giant leap,” Sudy added.


Planners pick up national award for Direction 2030 plan

Posted on June 07, 2016

PDS’ planning and zoning director Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, and senior planner James Fausz, AICP, brought home a very special souvenir from the recent National Planning Conference of the American Planning Association (APA): a national award for the county’s recently-adopted comprehensive plan.

Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice—was the 2016 recipient of a national Award of Excellence in the Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction category. The award was one of several accolades granted to planning projects from across the nation by the American Planning Association (APA), County Planning Division, and its sister organization the National Association of County Planners.

The award was presented April 4 during the APA National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“This recognition was a nice surprise,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS). PDS provides professional staff support to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the board ultimately responsible for crafting and adopting the county’s comprehensive plan.

“The award recognizes the hard work by members of the planning commission, citizens and interest groups from across Kenton County, and of course staff who put in countless months on the project. This plan was truly a collaborative effort,” said Gordon.

The Kenton County Planning Commission adopted the community’s first comprehensive plan in 1972 and incorporated updates every five years thereafter according to Kentucky law. The combined 26.2-pound, 12.5-inch-thick behemoth influenced land use decisions until the Great Recession established a ‘New Normal.’

The diverse group of participants developed its replacement—Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice.—through an aggressive three-year public engagement process. That process accomplished what many thought previously would be impossible: to build consensus among all 20 of the county’s local governments, their 126 elected officials, and their 20 planning commission members.

They grounded the plan in research provided by a national market analyst, most of it from sources bankers use for reviewing development-financing strategies. This established the plan as a unique resource for near-term development proposals and a baseline for state-mandated five-year updates.

Stakeholders played a critical role in crafting a number of its innovative policies. Their opposition to broad recommendations prompted planners to divide the county into four subareas—urban, firstring suburb, suburban, and rural—to reflect the community’s diversity. Policies are based now on the differing lifestyles found across these subareas.

The participants advocated for an easy-to-use final product. Planners responded with an online comprehensive plan (direction2030.org) that documents the plan’s creation, delivers guidance to anyone anywhere 24/7/365, and incorporates GIS technologies to entice users to interact with its contents.

The groups also called for accountability to assure that the plan’s objectives would be implemented. The PDS staff created a second website (action.direction2030.org) to keep participants and stakeholders up to date with information from the various implementation efforts being undertaken by the planning commission and others across the community.

This national award follows an Award of Merit for an Outstanding Comprehensive Plan given last year by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Each year the American Planning Association’s County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners gives out County Planning Project Awards. There are two types of awards, Awards of Excellence and Awards of Merit. There are seven categories of awards; Planning Project, Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction, Comprehensive Plan – Small Jurisdiction, Best Practices, Grass Roots Initiative, Small Area/Special Area Planning, and Special Focus Planning Initiative – Senior Livability.

Only one Award of Excellence and one Award of Merit may be granted per category each year. If the awards jury finds that none of the nominations in a particular category meets the desirable standards, they may withhold the award in that category for that year.

“This recognition, without question, goes ultimately to the countless residents who came out to express their hopes and dreams for Kenton County’s future. Much more than merely a title, Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. really did represent the ultimate goal for our process and our final product,” concluded Gordon. “We couldn’t be prouder that our collaborative efforts are being held up as a model.”

“Thank you, Kenton County!”


Direction 2030 comprehensive plan earns national award

Posted on March 24, 2016

Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan—Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choiceis the 2016 recipient of a national Award of Excellence in the Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction category. The award is one of several accolades granted to planning projects from across the nation by the American Planning Association (APA) County Planning Division and its sister organization, the National Association of County Planners. The award will be presented on April 4 during the APA National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“This recognition was a nice surprise,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS). PDS provides professional staff support to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the board ultimately responsible for crafting and adopting the comprehensive plan.

“Being acknowledged with the respect of your peers is outstanding. In this case, though, it recognizes the fact that this plan was the result of hard work by members of the planning commission, citizens and interest groups from across the county, and of course our staff. This plan was truly a collaborative effort,” said Gordon.

Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. was crafted through an aggressive three-year public engagement process. The plan was grounded in research provided by a national market analyst, most of it from sources bankers use for reviewing development-financing strategies.

Planners and technical experts from PDS’ GIS team then went to work crafting an entirely new concept for content delivery. The final plan (direction2030.org)—there is no printed product—documents its creation, delivers guidance to anyone anywhere 24/7/365, and incorporates GIS technologies to entice users to interact with its contents.

Shortly after the plan’s adoption, PDS planners and GIS professionals created a second website (action.direction2030.org) to keep participants and stakeholders up to date with information from the various implementation efforts being undertaken by the planning commission and others across the community.

This national award follows an Award of Merit for an Outstanding Comprehensive Plan given last year by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Each year the American Planning Association’s County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners gives out County Planning Project Awards. Only one Award of Excellence and one Award of Merit may be granted per category each year. If the awards jury finds that none of the nominations in a particular category meets the desirable standards, they may withhold the award in that category for that year.

“This recognition, without question, goes ultimately to the countless residents who came out to express their hopes and dreams for Kenton County’s future. Much more than merely a title, Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. really did represent the ultimate goal for our process and our final product,” concluded Gordon. “We couldn’t be prouder that our collaborative efforts are being held up as a model.”

“Thank you Kenton County!”


Planner elected officer of APA’s New Urbanism Division

Posted on October 12, 2015

Michael Ionna, AICP, PDS principal planner, was notified recently that he was elected treasurer/secretary of the American Planning Association’s (APA) New Urbanism Division. The division is one of the APA’s core groups aimed at bringing together communities of professionals who have shared interests in the many issues related to planning and land use.

The division also provides an area where members have the opportunity to discuss ideas, contribute to national policy work, develop conference sessions, and build beneficial partnerships. The purpose of the New Urbanism Division is to provide planners, public officials, and other decision makers with the information, support, and tools needed to eliminate restrictive conventional development regulations. It also encourages new urbanism patterns to be incorporated in appropriate communities throughout the country.

Ionna ran on a platform centered on promoting the goals and objectives of the division, increasing networking opportunities for members, collaborating with other divisions to establish meaningful relationships, promoting opportunities for continued education, and working to increase division membership.

Following release of the election results, Ionna stated, “During my one year term I look forward to the opportunity to interact with exceptional individuals from all over the country to develop solutions and policies that have an impact on a national and local level.”

“I’m proud of Mike for deciding to pursue this opportunity for service,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “We encourage all staff to become engaged in the professional associations to which they belong—if they’re willing to commit the time necessary. It’s a great way to burnish their professional skills while gaining information and contacts that can help them do their jobs in the best way possible.”

Whichever the case, Gordon concludes, Kenton County benefits from their involvement.