Parks initiative kicks off comprehensive plan’s urban implementation

Posted on July 09, 2015
PDS staff embarked recently on an effort to help inventory and improve Kenton County’s urban parks. The project is a collaborative effort with the Cities of Covington, Ludlow, and Bromley and marks a major step forward for implementation of Kenton County’s Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice comprehensive plan.

The first step of the project involved identifying the location of all park facilities, inventorying the types of amenities provided at each location, and documenting the condition of all existing equipment and structures. This was completed in May.

The second phase of the project focuses on providing a website meant for use as an ongoing public resource and input tool.

“Throughout the Direction 2030 process, we focused on having conversations with citizens to learn what they wanted in the future. This input was a great asset to the plan and provided a springboard for what we’re pursuing now with this urban sub area parks project,” said Michael Ionna, AICP, a principal planner with PDS. “The new website will be a great way for us to continue those conversations and to learn how they feel about park improvements.”

The new website is dedicated solely to the urban parks project. One of its primary features is a survey to gather public input that will serve as a guide for future investment and improvements. Another is an interactive map that will display each park’s location, a corresponding picture, and a description and list of amenities and provided at that location.

“While the site provides a mechanism for collecting public input, it also provides information on the parks themselves,” Ionna elaborated. “We encourage residents to visit RiverCityParks.org to check out the features of the interactive map and to take the survey to “Help Plan Your Parks!”

Watch for future reports on the progress of the plan and be sure to visit the website for more information. For more details on the project, contact Michael Ionna at mionna@pdskc.org or 859.331.8980.


Direction 2030, new subdivision regulations awarded top honors

Posted on July 09, 2015
The Kenton County Planning Commission accomplished even more than it thought when it adopted a new comprehensive plan and new subdivision regulations for Kenton County earlier this year. PDS staff’s crafting and the planning commission’s adoption of the two documents garnered top honors at this year’s awards program of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-KY).

The 2015 APA-KY Outstanding Comprehensive Plan Award was given to Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice and the Outstanding Project/Program/Tool Award was granted to Kenton County’s Subdivision Regulations. Both awards cap off years’-long efforts by staff and the planing commission to replace documents that were adopted initially during the 1970s.

Earning both awards puts PDS and the planning commission in a unique position. To the best of recollections by current APA-KY leaders, this is the first time that a jurisdiction has taken home the chapter’s two top honors in a single year.

The September 2014 adoption of Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice put in place a new comprehensive plan for the county and did so while realizing several challenging achievements. This nearly-three-year effort was accomplished with the unanimous support of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions in the first update of the countywide Goals & Objectives in more than 40 years. It also accomplished what few communities (if any) have done before. Direction 2030 and its interactive mapping format is entirely web based; no single printed document was produced.

“Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan is the product of strong relationships—both pre-existing and newly-created—between PDS staff, members of the Planning Commission, and stakeholders from throughout the community,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Without the creative, diligent, and persevering efforts of these relationships, this plan and the recognition it’s received now wouldn’t have been possible.”

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice can be accessed here. A website dedicated to implementation efforts for the plan will be put online soon. Watch this space or the PDS website for news about that effort. Contact James Fausz, AICP, a PDS principal planner, at jfausz@pdskc.org or 859.331.8980 for more information.

The effort to rewrite Kenton County’s subdivision regulations—a document which impacts all 20 local jurisdictions—began in the fall of 2009. It concluded this past March 10th when the Kenton County Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt the new regulations. That action ended implementation of regulations that were adopted first in 1978.

This vote completed an arduous effort by PDS staff, KCPC, the Kenton County Mayors’ Group, and local development and home building interests to: produce a document that is efficient for use by both developers and staff; provide greater design flexibility for developers and ultimately the buying public; promote better coordination with governmental agencies that play a role in the subdivision review and approval process; and most importantly, to provide taxpayer protection to those who will have to maintain the streets that serve these developments. 

“The planning commission’s primary concern was to hear and consider every suggestion that was made,” said Gordon. “Members knew that they wouldn’t be able to incorporate all of the suggestions but were committed to making all of the groups that participated feel like they had had a voice and that their suggestions were given proper consideration.”

“To be recognized for this accomplishment is icing on the cake,” he concluded.

The newly-adopted Kenton County Subdivision Regulations can be found here. Contact Scott Hiles, CPC, PDS’ director of infrastructure engineering, at shiles@pdskc.org or 859.331.8980 for more information.


UC planning students crafting recommendations for KY 536 land

Posted on May 05, 2015
PDS planners are facilitating work by University of Cincinnati planning students to analyze some of the potential impacts improvement of KY 536 will have on adjacent communities. The roadway project, which has been planned for at least a decade, will provide much needed east/west connectivity in central and southern Kenton County.

“This project was meant to provide UC students real-world experience in planning issues that exist in our community. It was also designed to provide our community leaders with an insight into the possibilities for the corridor,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager at PDS.

Over the past several weeks, the class has presented its preliminary reports to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the Independence City Council, the PDS Management Board, and Kenton County Fiscal Court. These presentations were meant to update the boards on the progress of the project, to discuss a few of the preliminary recommendations, and to obtain feedback and thoughts about the project which will be merged into the final reports.

Based upon the students’ efforts and analysis, the class is formulating ideas now for the values, goals, vision, and mission for their final reports. Some preliminary ideas presented thus far include:

    •    creating a harmonious transition between the historic downtown Independence, suburban, and rural landscapes around KY 536, balancing the unique needs of each type of development;
    •    improving multimodal access to existing developments and amenities locally and regionally; and
    •    celebrating the unique character of Southern Kenton County through policies, programs, and activities that recognize and enhance the rural heritage.

As the class nears completion, students will be refining their recommendations and presenting their final reports to staff and faculty. Their final reports will be available on the project’s website.

“We’ve heard many positive comments that the students did a great job capturing the community’s sentiments,” said Reddy. “We hope this experience will help them when they start their professional careers.”

Direction 2030 implementation efforts continue to build momentum

Posted on May 05, 2015
Steps taken by PDS staff during the crafting of Direction 2030 paved the way for implementation efforts now underway across Kenton County. Breaking the citizen input received through the Kenton County Planning Commission’s aggressive public outreach into subareas of the county is paying off now as planners work with local groups to take steps towards accomplishing the comprehensive plan’s goals.

Current efforts are focused primarily on the urban and rural subareas. There are two major advantages to this approach. First, it promotes coordination and collaboration amongst multiple jurisdictions which share a common vision and are working towards implementing similar projects. Secondly, it allows for continued public dialogue around issues that have been identified in the plan as a priority and engages the community in finding solutions. The urban and rural subarea implementation efforts are doing just that.

“Our citizen partners are very enthusiastic about these projects since the focus is finally on implementation,” said Michael Ionna, AICP, a PDS principal planner. Ionna is facilitating implementation efforts being pursued in the urban subarea. “We anticipate that in six months we will have made significant progress on the recommendations.”

Following preliminary meetings with key stakeholders and examination of available resources, the urban subarea project team has identified three projects which implement recommendations of Direction 2030. The current list includes: an inventory and analysis of existing and potential park and recreation facilities; an evaluation and streamlining of zoning regulations and permitting processes; and, development of a tool for documenting current, completed, and potential development projects and initiatives within the urban core of Kenton County.

Work has begun on the parks and recreation project. Over the course of the next few months the project partners will work to inventory recreation facilities and locations to identify the types of amenities being provided as well as the area and population each facility serves.

This information will be put into a digital format to be published online as a public resource as well as a tool to provide input to guide new investments into the system. This project is a collaborative effort between PDS planning and GIS staffs and Kenton County’s river cities.

Work on rural subarea implementation continues with the work of the South Kenton County Citizens Group. Each committee (roads, agricultural heritage, services, and zoning) has met at least twice over the past two months. Ed Dietrich, PDS principal planner, is facilitating this subarea’s implementation efforts.

The services committee has met with the Northern Kentucky Water District to discuss water extension to the remaining residents of southern Kenton County. The committee has also met with the Telecommunications Board and learned about increasing the coverage of its broadcast. The roads committee met with Kenton County’s chief of police and public works director to talk about improving the safety of roadways.

The agricultural heritage committee has discussed various options to promote agriculture. The committee will discuss strategies to attract young people to farming at their upcoming meeting in May. The zoning committee is working with PDS on various zoning options to keep south Kenton County rural.

The citizens group is planning a public meeting on June 15th to receive the general public’s thoughts about the work that has been accomplished so far.

For more information about projects being pursued in these two subareas, contact Ionna at mionna@pdskc.org and Dietrich at edietrich@pdskc.org.
 
 

Demand for lots, spring weather prompt more subdivision plats

Posted on May 05, 2015
Developers have submitted three new preliminary subdivision plans over the last several months; each represents a significant addition to existing developments. Additionally, other developers have submitted plans for subdivisions that received approval in prior years.

“We’re seeing more residential development activity right now than we’ve seen in years,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of infrastructure engineering with PDS. “Based on what’s already been submitted and what we’re hearing is on the way, we’re planning for a very busy year.”

Much of this new activity is centered in the Cities of Taylor Mill and Independence. Taylor Creek Subdivision, whose entrance is along Pride Parkway in Taylor Mill, will gain 20 lots. This preliminary subdivision plan is the first submitted since Kenton County’s new subdivision regulations took effect last month. The approximate 400 feet of proposed new street will be the first built under the county’s new street construction standards.

The second new development—also in Taylor Mill—is a 60-lot addition to High Ridge Park. The entrance to High Ridge Park is along Wayman Branch Road very near to the point at which Wayman Branch intersects Pride Parkway. This development, which is just south of Taylor Creek Subdivision, will result in almost 2,500 feet of new public street.

The other of these newest new development plans is for land in the City of Independence; it will add 23 new lots to the Spring Meadows Subdivision. Its entrance is along Lakefield Drive just east of Taylor Mill Road. The infrastructure for this addition is already in place so this will include an addition of lots, not street.

In other recent submittals, Ashford Village, whose original preliminary subdivision approval dates back to 2002, will soon see the addition of approximately 350 feet of new public street and ten new lots. The entrance to Ashford Village is along Mills Road, opposite Mills Park. The entrance to Ashford Village is what prompted the city to make this new intersection a three-way stop controlled intersection.

Staff has also spoken with developers about two additional subdivisions in Independence that have yet to be submitted but are expected in the next couple of months.

Independence and Taylor Mill are not the only cities seeing new subdivision activity. Other previously approved subdivisions are moving forward in Covington and Erlanger, and most notably, Crestview Hills. Although a subdivision plan hasn’t been submitted yet formally, staff is aware of a new 43-lot subdivision that will include over 2,000 feet of new public street, all of which will be constructed to the new street standards.

Subdivision activity last year in Kenton County showed a marked increase over the last several years and the activity PDS is seeing early this year is a good indication that it’s likely to continue.


PDS, partners receive grant for health provisions of comprehensive plan

Posted on May 05, 2015
A newly-formed partnership that includes PDS received notice last month of a $135,000 grant award from the American Planning Association (APA) through its Plan4Health program to combat two elements of chronic disease – lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods.  The grant will fund activities outlined in Kenton County’s recently-adopted new comprehensive plan.

PDS and its partners will work over the next 12 months to lay the groundwork for a county-wide Food Policy Council to ensure that healthy and accessible food efforts continue into the future. Partnering organizations include the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, Inc.; the Northern Kentucky Health Department; OKI Regional Council of Governments; and, Planning and Development Services of Kenton County.

“I’m really pleased that our proposal was selected for funding; I understand the competition was fierce,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS executive director.

“The basis for the project proposal came from the aggressive public engagement we pursued for Direction 2030.org, Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan. Residents told us for the first time that health should be an important factor in future land use planning. These funds will help our partnership take positive steps toward implementing that goal,” he said.

The Kenton County Plan4Health coalition (KCP4H) will work to provide access to nutritious food across the county. Efforts will include a county-wide assessment of underserved neighborhoods in addition to a series of actions addressing affordability of and access to healthy food.

The grant will facilitate an opportunity for the KCP4H coalition to map the area’s full-line grocery stores, locate neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods, and increase the supply of fresh produce for residents in need. The foundation for long-term efforts will also result from this grant project.

APA’s Plan4Health program is implemented in partnership with the American Public Health Association and represents a major new collaboration between planners and public health professionals. This is the first time that APA, via funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has offered grants to promote healthy living.

For more information on the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition or grant projects, contact Jenna LeCount, AICP, PDS principal planner, at jlecount@pdskc.org or 859.331.8980.

 

 


PDS Director of GIS discusses Big Data in article

Posted on May 01, 2015

April issue of CIO Review magazine Review magazine

- Cover and article


Grilling Safety

Posted on April 02, 2015
With warmer weather comes the opportunities for cook-outs. Here's just a quick safety not from the National Fire Protection Association:

Done! County Planning Commission adopts new subdivision regulations

Posted on March 25, 2015

On March 10 the Kenton County Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt new subdivision regulations for all Kenton County jurisdictions; those new provisions became effective at midnight that night. This is the first time a comprehensive rewrite of the regulations has been pursued since they were put into effect originally in 1978.

This vote completed a year-long effort by staff, the Kenton County Mayors’ Group, and a committee of the planning commission that began with four overriding goals: to produce a document that is efficient to use for developers and staff alike; to provide greater design flexibility for developers and ultimately the buying public; to promote better coordination with other governmental agencies that play a role in the subdivision review and approval process; and most importantly, to provide greater taxpayer protection. 

The public effort began when staff posted the initial rough draft of the document online for review in December 2010. Since that time staff and a committee of planning commissioners worked through hundreds of suggested revisions made by various stakeholder groups such as the Home Builders Association and Engineering Society.

“It was a primary concern of the planning commission committee to be open to all the comments that stakeholders wanted to present,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, PDS’ director of infrastructure engineering. “Members knew that the process would be grueling but they wanted all of the groups that participated to understand that they had a voice and that their suggestions were given proper consideration.”

As this process to reach consensus moved forward, the final draft began to take shape slowly, with the exception of the proposed standards for streets and the earthwork that supports them.

“There was a major disagreement between the groups with respect to street design,” said Hiles. “The rest of the document was coming together, but no one could agree on common ground when it came to streets and particularly the drainage improvements that were needed to make them last.”

Providing new and improved street design standards was the reason for one of staff’s original and arguably most important goals—greater taxpayer protection.

“When streets fail prematurely, it’s the taxpayers that ultimately pay to fix them,” said Hiles. “Creating a set of regulations that resulted in better streets to preclude premature street failures that must be borne by the taxpayer was one of the motivations for this whole project.” 

In response to the impasse on street design, Planning Commission Chair Paul Darpel challenged a group of engineers along with representatives of the Kenton County Mayor’s Group and the Home Builders Association to tackle the issue. The group, made up of Henry Fischer, Jim Viox, Ted Vogelpohl, Joe Kramer, and Mark Brueggemann, began work in the middle of 2013 and presented its final recommendations to staff in late 2014. Those standards were endorsed by both the Mayor’s Group and planning commission committee.

“The planning commission committee and all involved were impressed with their work,” said Darpel. “They did exactly what we asked them to do. To reach consensus on such a difficult topic was no easy task. The planning commission has a great deal of appreciation for their effort and the results they achieved.”

The consensus reached on street standards was the last piece of the puzzle staff needed to move the regulations on to a public hearing and adoption. The new regulations are now viewable online and staff is available to answer questions.


Erlanger City Council vote approves Commonwealth Station form district

Posted on March 25, 2015

On March 3 the Erlanger City Council voted to approve Commonwealth Station map and text amendments. The approval of these issues will pave the way for mixed use development adjacent to the interchange of Commonwealth Avenue with I-71/75. The new regulations are a step intended to improve the look and feel of the gateway to Erlanger.

The city initiated the Commonwealth Station project in 2012. Over the course of two-and-a-half years, a group of dedicated residents, business owners, and city staff met monthly to consider the community’s vision for the 42 acres of land on Commonwealth Boulevard across from the city building. That vision was then translated into regulations designed to encourage expanded uses, increased density, smaller setbacks, and architectural consistency.

“This is a very positive step for the community,” says Andy Videkovich, AICP, PDS senior planner and project manager. “This code does not infringe on property owners’ rights to use and develop their property in an economical way. Rather, it speaks to the city’s expectation that development provide an enticement for people to want to live, work, and play in Erlanger.”

Very careful consideration was given throughout the process to give deference to existing land owners. The area currently contains a number of buildings and uses that provide needed services to the adjacent community. In recognition of the impact some of the new regulations could have on an existing property owner, several rounds of changes were made to the application and processing sections of the new code prior to its adoption.

“The vision for Commonwealth Station is long-term,” says Videkovich. “Changes will occur over time, and this code is just one tool to encourage that change. It will also take work by the residents, city staff, and city elected officials to stand by this code and its vision for it to be successful.”

 Form-based codes have become popular nationally and locally as an alternative to traditional zoning codes. Traditional zoning codes focus primarily on the separation of land uses, to the detriment of the public realm created by such codes. Form-based codes are community vision-based and focus on an integrated built form.

More information on form-based codes can be found online at the Form-Based Codes Institute (formbasedcodes.org).
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