Entries for 'independence'

Independence disbands adjustment and code enforcement boards

Posted on December 26, 2014
Following the decision by its City Council to join the PDS One Stop Shop program, the City of Independence has dissolve its Board of Adjustment and Code Enforcement Board in favor of joining the respective Kenton County boards.
    
Many of the cities in Kenton County find it difficult to maintain their own boards for several reasons. Keeping the appointed members on these boards can be problematic because of the thankless nature of the job, the time commitment, plus the requirement of ongoing planning education.

Many of the smaller communities in Kenton County have an ongoing problem finding volunteers, not to mention keeping those appointees compliant with the state-mandated education requirements. There is also a cost incurred by each city to support those boards in the way of staff costs, attorney fees, notification fees, and stipends to the board members.

Fortunately, cities have an alternative in the way of joining the boards that are maintained by Kenton County and PDS. These boards carry no costs to the cities themselves beyond the regular One Stop Shop program costs. For the board of adjustment, if a city chooses to dissolve its board, their community automatically becomes a participant in the Kenton County Board of Adjustment, for which, application fees and the Fiscal Court carry the cost.

The Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is enabled by an interlocal agreement between the participating local governments and supported by PDS and the fines collected by the board. Each participating government appoints one member to the board. The participating cities have not only eliminated the difficulty of managing the board and its members, but also see a real cost savings as well, which can be passed along to residents.

The added advantage to these boards is that, considering the small nature of many of the Kenton County cities, the county-wide boards offer a more diverse makeup and the reduced likelihood of a member actually knowing an applicant appearing before them, a relatively common occurrence in many of Kenton County’s cities.

“While our local BoA and CEB have done an outstanding job over the years, it became more cost effective to utilize the county boards when we opted to go with the One Stop Shop,” said Independence Mayor-Elect Chris Reinersman. “In addition, Independence is hopeful that, by virtue of the greater number of cases heard and frequency of meetings, board members will benefit from a broader knowledge base and level of objectivity.”

Independence has taken the necessary steps to utilize the Kenton County Board of Adjustment immediately and to participate in the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board beginning in January.

Residential street construction increases since end of the recession

Posted on December 01, 2014
Subdivision development and new street construction during 2014 showed an increase over 2013 and a dramatic increase when compared to levels of activity only a few years ago. What’s more, even with a colder than normal fall the activity is expected to continue late into the year.

“There’s always the risk that street construction will slow down or stop when temperatures drop sooner than expected. But as long as they remain above freezing we know of at least two developments that are working toward adding more street before the end of the year,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of PDS’ infrastructure engineering department.

Subdivisions in unincorporated Kenton County and the cities of Erlanger, Covington, and Independence all saw new street construction in 2014. The majority of streets were located in the City of Independence.  

“We haven’t seen this level of street construction since well before the recession,” said Hiles. “In looking back through our records, the amount of new street that was constructed this year quadrupled the amount we saw constructed just four years ago, and we’re not finished yet.”

Staff is also seeing signs that the upward trend in subdivision development will likely continue. In 2014 over 200 new lots were proposed and approved along new streets. In a few cases, construction was started this year on those new subdivisions but in no cases were any of these developments completed.

“Because we had more lots and street approved this year than was completed, we’re confident that this will carry over to next year and mean a busy 2015,” said Hiles.

One reason in particular to recognize the increase in street construction is its relation to the new subdivision regulations that are currently being written.

“A primary focus of the new regulations is better, longer lasting streets,” said Hiles. “It’s important to get these new regulations adopted so that all of the benefits to the community that they’ll bring can be incorporated into these new subdivisions.”

Hiles said that staff is continuing to work with a committee of engineers to reach consensus on a final recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“Everyone is in agreement with most of the important issues. We’re working to finalize the last of the outstanding items and tie up some loose ends at this point. We understand the importance of getting the process finished but more important is making sure the regulations are enforceable in the way staff needs them to be.”

Hiles said that he is confident that the new regulations will be finished and adopted by the planning commission before the beginning of the 2015 development season.

New Year starts off with application for 129-lot plat

Posted on February 04, 2014
The Kenton County Planning Commission approved a 129-lot addition to Williams Woods subdivision in Independence earlier this month. This marks the first time that the City of Independence has seen a new residential development or subdivision addition of this magnitude in several years.

Williams Woods lies along Bristow Road approximately 2,000 feet east of Banklick Road, directly across from Battleridge subdivision. When the original plat of Williams Woods was approved, the site was located in unincorporated Kenton County. That subdivision plat consisted of 178 single-family lots.

The newly-approved plat will bring the development’s total to 307 lots. It will also contain approximately 5,000 feet of new public streets that will be maintained by the City of Independence.

“The number of new residential lots we’ve approved in Independence over the last four years doesn’t equal the addition to Williams Woods that we just approved,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “Looking earlier than 2009 there was a mix of single and multi-family development in Independence that totaled 90 residences, but you’d have to go back to 2004 to see the really significant numbers that were off the charts. Literally, several hundred new lots were approved in that year.”

Hiles added that given the number of other new or established developments that were either just beginning construction or continuing established developments at the end of 2013, this addition to Williams Woods adds one more reason to be optimistic about continuing the steady residential growth the community began to see trending about a year ago.