Public, staff making progress on Kenton Connects plan

Posted on January 25, 2018
Progress is being made on the countywide Kenton Connects bicycle and pedestrian study. Results from a recent public survey are being used to guide the next phase of the project. Advisory committee members are currently working on setting actionable, measurable and achievable benchmarks and goals.

The process for identifying benchmarks includes an analysis of existing conditions in Kenton County, reviewing national trends, and considering survey results.

With results from the fall 2017 survey as a guide, four key topics were identified as areas of focus; safety, usership, existing infrastructure, and education.

“The benchmarks, goals, and policies identified in Kenton Connects will help guide bicycle and pedestrian conditions here for many years to come, and will be used to implement future policy decisions in the county,” said Chris Schneider, AICP, Principal Planner and project manager for the study.

While much of the work has already been done, there is still more to do. The study’s next steps include drafting the existing conditions report, formulating goals, and holding a public open house anticipated for the spring. The study is on track to conclude in the summer of 2018.

To stay up to date on the Kenton Connects bicycle and pedestrian plan, visit KentonConnects.org and join the project email list. Email Chris Schneider or call him at 859.331.8980 with any questions or for more information.


PDS is now encouraging CAD file submissions for plan review

Posted on January 25, 2018
Applicants for zoning and building permits, building plan reviews, subdivision plat reviews, and subdivision improvement plan reviews may now submit them to PDS in digital form. They’ll be able to complete the entire application process—application and plan submission and payment of fees—online within the next couple months.

“Our goal for some time now has been to move the entire application process online so that design professionals, builders, developers, and engineers can submit their entire application packages and pay their fees from their offices,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of PDS. “This will help them be more efficient, save money, and allow our staff to focus on getting projects through the review process more expeditiously.”

For applicants who prefer face-to-face interactions, staff is working toward installing a kiosk in the agency’s permit office that will facilitate digital submissions with someone near to help if necessary.

Looking forward, Brian Sims and Scott Hiles, directors of building codes administration and infrastructure engineering respectively, look forward to the day when their staffs will no longer need multiple sets of plans for each project.

For more information, email Brian Sims or Scott Hiles or call them at 859.331.8980.


Crescent Springs working to implement planning study

Posted on January 25, 2018
Crescent Springs City Council is working with PDS staff to implement a key section of the 2010 Crescent Springs Gateway Study. The plan, which contains numerous recommendations on topics like streetscape to transportation, is currently being used by the city to focus on instituting zoning changes to promote economic development.

Implementation discussions began last summer to review the plan’s recommended land uses and to work towards implementing zoning revisions. Those conversations highlighted the need for more flexibility in the area through zoning for a mix of uses. City officials felt existing regulations in the area were too numerous and restrictive, leading to underutilized land. The proposed amendments will help to address issues in the area that were first formally noted in the 2010 plan.

“Working with city officials to implement some of the plan’s land use recommendations has been a great experience,” said Alex Koppelman, PDS Associate Planner. “The Mixed Commercial Zone encourages development and redevelopment with flexible regulations, allowing for a mix of commercial retail, service, and office uses while also accommodating existing residential uses.”


The city’s amendments will consolidate zoning into two zones: Mixed Commercial (MC) and Industrial Park (IP). The MC zone will include most of the uses already permitted in the current zones, lower parking minimums, and establish consistent setback and landscaping requirements. It will also allow existing single-family homes to remain in the area without facing issues of non-conformity. There are eight zoning districts currently within the approximate 44-acre area, including residential to highway commercial to office.

“It’s always exciting to see our longer-term planning efforts coming to fruition,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager for PDS. “I worked on this project during the initial study and remember the area was a challenge with lots of uses in several zones. These draft changes have the potential to provide some much-needed flexibility to allow for a more straightforward approach.”

The amendments were provided with favorable recommendations by the Kenton County Planning Commission after two public hearings. The city has adopted the text amendment to establish the MC Zone and expects to adopt the corresponding map amendment next month.

For more information about the proposed amendment, email Alex Koppelman or call him at 859.331.8980.

Planning Commission acts on Villa Hills planned unit development

Posted on January 25, 2018
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.

Fiscal Court declares GIS Day in Kenton County

Posted on December 22, 2017

Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Commissioners Beth Sewell, Jon Draud, and Joe Nienaber presented PDS staff with a GIS proclamation during their November 14, 2017 Fiscal Court meeting. The proclamation recognized Wednesday, November 15, 2017 as GIS Day in Kenton County.

Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst, and Ryan Hermann, Associate GIS Specialist, attended the Fiscal Court meeting to accept the proclamation on behalf of PDS.

According to Hermann, “GIS Day is our single largest education and outreach event of the year. This year the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology hosted our event and we were able to discuss GIS, mapping, analysis, programming, and UAV/drone technologies with over 400 students.”

GIS (geographic information systems) is the mapping and analysis technology that PDS/LINK-GIS provides to the citizens, governments, and agencies in Kenton, Campbell, and Pendleton Counties.

For additional information about PDS’ GIS outreach offerings, email Ryan Hermann or Louis Hill, or call either of them at 859.331.8980.


PDS services now include photography from ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’

Posted on December 22, 2017

PDS recently added video and photography capabilities from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to the services available to all Kenton County jurisdictions. Photos, videos, ortho-mosaics, 3D renderings, elevation profiles, volume calculations, digital terrain models, digital surface models, emergency services, accident reconstructions, and search and rescue flights are now available through its One Stop Shop Program.

Utilizing the UAV and Esri products such as Dron2Map, PDS can assist Kenton County communities create up-to-date imagery for small areas. Drone2Map allows for quick turnaround time—sometimes in as little as a day—of products such as ortho-mosaics.

PDS has a Typhoon H, a hexacopter produced by Yuneec. The Typhoon H is equipped with a 4K video and 12-megapixel camera. It is capable of flying 400 feet high (the maximum height allowed by law) and can fly up to a mile away from the pilot. Associate GIS Specialist Ryan Hermann, PDS’ UAV operator, is a certified remote pilot having achieved his license in May 2017 becoming one of the first government-operated UAV pilots in the Greater Cincinnati Area.

If you have questions about the rules and regulations, UAV products, projects, or general UAV questions, email Ryan Hermann or call him at 859.331.8980.


LINK-GIS is an ever-growing treasure trove of geospatial data

Posted on December 22, 2017

LINK-GIS is all about data. Thirty-two years’ worth of data. Fourteen terabytes of data… a number that grows incrementally each day as the world changes around us.

Consider this:
·       
Over 2017 PDS processed 954 building permits; each new building prompts changes to GIS data.
·       
PDS inspected 7,540 linear feet of surface asphalt and 2,525 linear feet of concrete streets during 2017; each foot of new pavement prompts changes to GIS data.
·       
Staff filled over 1,880 public and private requests for data and maps during 2017. It also sold over 60 gigabytes of digital data.
·       
The linkgis.org website serves 13,159 users monthly; 6,088 of those users are unique.

When you look around your neighborhood and community and see change happening, understand that that change will prompt LINK-GIS to update its data.

“We make it easy for people to use our portal to download digital data,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration at PDS. “You can also browse the map gallery with downloadable maps and review our fee schedule on-line. With over 300+ layers to choose from, you will be sure to find some data you just can’t live without.”

For more information about purchasing maps, data, or analyses, visit the LINK-GIS website, email Trisha Brush, or call her at 859.331.8980.


2017 platting activity was strong; 2018 promises even more

Posted on December 22, 2017

Subdivision activity was on the rise in Kenton County during 2017. Staff saw activity that was on par with levels not seen since prior to the recession. That bodes well for 2018 when many of those lots will be available for sale.

“We’ve been busy the last several years,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, Director of Infrastructure Engineering with PDS. “But we haven’t seen these levels of activity for almost ten years.”

PDS staff approved 11 improvement plans in 2017. Improvement plans contain the detailed infrastructure design that is proposed within a subdivision. These plans are required to be approved prior to the construction of any infrastructure.

“Often, the work proposed within a set of improvement plans takes more than a single year to construct,” said Hiles. “So, we know that there is approved infrastructure that didn’t get installed in 2017 that will carry over to 2018.”

Hiles said that there was approximately 9,000 feet of new subdivision street that was installed in 2017. However, about half of that street total came from improvement plans that carried over from previous years. “There was over 4,200 feet of street approved in 2017 that won’t get built until next year,” said Hiles.

Infrastructure that was constructed during 2017 resulted in the creation of more than 500 new building lots on 480 acres. Staff also processed 69 minor subdivision plats totaling 440 acres. There is no public infrastructure construction associated with minor subdivision plats according to Hiles, but it is another indication that land platting activities were high.

In addition to the infrastructure contained on approved improvement plans that won’t be installed until 2018, Hiles noted several new developments that were approved in 2017 won’t be the subject of improvement plans until 2018.

“There was a combination of seven new subdivisions or new additions to existing subdivisions that was submitted this year. Four of those developers aren’t planning to begin infrastructure construction until spring of 2018. So that infrastructure will be over and above the 4,200 feet of street that will carry over from 2017 approvals,” said Hiles.

While most subdivision activity remains in the City of Independence, it’s interesting to note that several of the new developments and new additions to existing developments that will take place next year are in the Cities of Covington, Erlanger, and Villa Hills.


Applicants may submit digital plans for review beginning in 2018

Posted on December 22, 2017

Applicants for zoning and building permits, building plan reviews, subdivision plat reviews, and subdivision improvement plan reviews will be able to submit them to PDS in digital form beginning next month. They’ll be able to complete the entire application process—application and plan submission and payment of fees—online by the second quarter of the new year.

PDS acquired licenses recently for BlueBeam software to drive this digital plan review process. The program will help PDS communicate with applicants using customizable, easy-to-mark-up tools which will help project coordination by tracking mark ups and generating reports automatically. It will also store all of its records in TRAKiT, PDS’ electronic development-tracking program.

More information about Bluebeam software is available here.

“There will be a learning curve initially, but we’ll work through it and establish a process that will be better in the future,” says Brian Sims, CBO, PDS’ chief building official. “We’re living in a digital world and are committed to help the design professionals and building industry be as efficient as possible.”

Sims believes most of the learning curve process will be completed by April for those who begin submitting digital plans in January.

PDS will move to online applications later in the fiscal year when it activates eTRAKiT, a module of its TRAKiT electronic development-tracking program. Staff is in the process now of developing the application process, online payment tools, and avenues to attach documents such as plans and worker’s compensation and geo-technical reports, etc.

“Our goal for some time now has been to move the entire application process online so that design professionals, builders, developers, and engineers can submit their entire application packages and pay their fees from their offices,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of PDS. “This will help them be more efficient, save money, and allow our staff to focus on getting projects through the review process more expeditiously.”

“We believe the ability for applicants to submit applications and plans digitally is a real step forward,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “Kenton County’s Subdivision Regulations require all subdivision plans to be submitted digitally already. Being able to submit the entire application electronically goes hand in hand with what’s been required for some time.”

For applicants who prefer face-to-face interactions, staff is working toward installing a kiosk in the agency’s permit office that will facilitate digital submissions with someone near to help if necessary.

Looking forward, Sims and Hiles look forward to the day when their staffs will no longer need multiple sets of plans for each project.

“We’ll be able to deliver digital plans to those individuals and agencies who require a copy of our submissions for their reviews… and we’ll be able to accomplish that without the help of the US Postal Service or a vehicle. It will be so much more efficient for all concerned,” concluded Sims.

For more information, contact Brian Sims or Scott Hiles or call them at 859.331.8980. 


IEBC Course and CEUs available

Posted on December 18, 2017
First CEU Opportunity of 2018

PDS of Kenton County, the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction, and AIA Northern Kentucky are pleased to announce a professional development opportunity. The 2015 International Existing Building Code (IEBC) will soon replace the premise of Chapter 34: Existing Buildings within the 2013 Kentucky Building Code. This is your opportunity to learn what this means and how you’ll benefit.

WHO: Architects, Building Officials, Developers, and Contractors

WHERE: PDS of Kenton County, 2332 Royal Drive, Fort Mitchell

WHEN: Friday, January 26; registration begins at 8 AM; class runs from 8:30 to 4 PM

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course suits building officials and design professionals who work to restore and re-use existing buildings in Kentucky. The Kentucky Building Code and IEBC intend to provide flexible alternative approaches to safeguarding public health, safety, and welfare without compromising the original character and use of buildings as they are repaired and altered for today’s needs.

INSTRUCTOR: Winnie Blythe, Technical Director, Kentucky Department Housing, Buildings and Construction

CREDITS: This class has been approved for six (6) CEUs by AIA Northern Kentucky and the Kentucky Department
Housing, Buildings and Construction

REGISTRATION: Class size is limited. Registration is required by January 22. Contact Lori Remley at 859.331.8980
or lremley@pdskc.org

COST: $20 to cover the cost of materials, coffee and pastries in the morning, and lunch. PDS accepts all major credit
cards and will provide receipts for reimbursement purposes.


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