NKAPC completes review of operations effort with name change

Posted on July 01, 2014
In a move that more effectively describes the scope of services it provides, the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) is changing its name to Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, or PDS.

The change is effective July 1, 2014 and will bring clarity to an organization that while important to the community is often misunderstood.

“Planning and Development Services of Kenton County reflects the true mission of the organization as a service provider on behalf of the county’s 20 local governments,” said former Fort Wright Mayor Tom Litzler, Chairman of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission.

“The new name truly reflects the service area of the organization, not the greater Northern Kentucky community, which was the original mission of the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission as envisioned by Northern Kentucky’s legislative delegation in 1960,” Litzler said.

The name change to PDS will put an end to the confusion created by two connected organizations that both used the term ‘planning commission’ in their names: the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“The confusion that surrounded those two names was always present,” said Dennis Gordon, executive director of the organization. “That unfortunate fact seemed to always cloud the real story which was that as parts of a team, the planning commission and staff were working together to serve the citizens of Kenton County as the law intended.”

Responsibilities assigned to the two bodies by state statute never overlapped over the years, said Gordon. They actually complemented each but “you’d never have known that based on public perception,” he asserted.

A communications assessment conducted for NKAPC in 2011 found that the public’s number one problem with the organization was confusion about the services that NKAPC provides and how they differ from those provided by the Kenton County Planning Commission.

Two other planning bodies will also have new names:
•    The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council—the agency’s governing body made up of one elected official from each of the County’s 20 jurisdictions—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Council.
•    Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission—the seven-member board selected by the Council to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the agency and staff—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Management Board.

The name of the Kenton County Planning Commission will remain the same since it is this body charged by state statutes with pursuing planning and zoning responsibilities for all Kenton County communities.

Consideration of the name change began following a 2011 petition drive focused on eliminating NKAPC. The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council launched a comprehensive look at the organization and how it was operating.

The agency’s finances, staffing, administration, operations, and more were included in the assessment, and 16 recommendations to improve the organization’s efficiencies and effectiveness were made.

After a two-year effort completing the objectives set forth in those recommendations, officials turned to the confusion and false perceptions created by the NKAPC name. In the end, they decided that the name needed to be changed.

“The operational changes were made to make the organization more efficient, understandable, accountable, and transparent,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Vice-Chairman of the newly-christened PDS Management Board. “They provide a more responsive way of providing services to residents, communities, and businesses… and the name is reflective of that fact.

“Accountability is a hallmark of PDS,” Meier said. “These changes were made in part to ensure that the organization continues to be responsive to the concerns of the community as it has for the past 53 years.”

PDS offers a wide array of services – planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, building codes administration, GIS mapping, and a One Stop Shop program for codes enforcement. It also provides technical support to first-responders in times of emergency, all of which makes the community better, safer, and more professionally planned and developed.

PDS also facilitates economic development by working closely and professionally with elected officials, economic development professionals, real-estate developers, utility providers, and the construction industry in general.

“This collaborative services model saves taxpayer dollars by providing planning and development services on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments, which don’t have to hire staff individually to provide these services,” Litzler said. “PDS works in concert with these local governments to provide services, answer questions and concerns, staffs their planning commission, and ensures that these communities are developed (and redeveloped) in a healthy, safe, and effective way.”

Steve Hensley, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Kenton County, said PDS plays a vital role in public safety, including planning for and responding to natural disasters.

As an example, Hensley points to the 2012 tornadoes in Southern Kenton County that took four lives, destroyed 88 homes, and damaged 257 more.

PDS building inspectors arrived immediately after the storms subsided and assisted the relief effort by ensuring that storm-damaged buildings were inhabitable.

“At one time we had 15 building inspectors, checking on structures that were damaged,” Hensley said. “We needed to know if the buildings were safe or unsafe and if they needed to be condemned. They were there without hesitation, and stayed until job was done. To me that shows dedication to the community.”

PDS also assists local emergency planning and response efforts by helping identify storm warning siren locations, mapping flood plains, and using its GIS system to help first responders in emergency situations.

“Most people don’t realize all that (PDS) does in this community,” said Hensley, the former police chief and city administrator of Fort Mitchell. “They are very, very good when it comes to planning and zoning, but they also make our community safer and they make local government more efficient.”

Direction 2030 Public Open House

Posted on June 11, 2014
Major Milestone Approaching for Kenton County’s Future

Planning for Kenton County’s future is approaching a major milestone. The area‐wide comprehensive plan, Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice, is nearing completion. The citizens of Kenton County are invited to review the components of the plan a final time before a formal application is submitted to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

What: Public Open House
When: There will be two sessions on June 18, 2014; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.   Rain Date: June 23, 2014
Where: The Clock Tower at Crestview Hills Town Center; 2791 Town Center Boulevard, Crestview Hills, KY
Why: This plan is important! The world is a different place than it was 10 years ago, and research indicates that it will continue to change. Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a strategy to address the challenges and possibilities of the next 20 years and aimed at making Kenton County competitive in the local, national, and global economies.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice
is a community planning initiative centered on public input. Over 70 meetings were held with the public, small groups, and business and civic leaders. From this input, several themes emerged:
  • Different generations have different, and sometimes competing, desires.
  • Different areas of the county have different needs and desires. While Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice paints broad brush strokes over the entire county, more focused planning efforts are needed for the Rural, Suburban, First‐Ring Suburban, and Urban Core areas.
  • It is important to seek out ways that resources can be used more wisely and efficiently to serve the residents of Kenton County.
  • Jobs and economic competitiveness are paramount issues that need to be addressed for Kenton County to be a desirable place to live for all generations.
Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice makes recommendations on eight specific elements that are important for growth in Kenton County. These recommendations are based on brand new Goals and Objectives for the county. This is the first time in over 40 years that a new set of Goals and Objectives are guiding the recommendations of the plan.

Another new concept that Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice introduces is that it will be an entirely web based plan. Gone are the days of massive documents that are difficult to navigate and hard to find relevant information. The streamlined web‐based plan will make it easier for everyone to locate the information they seek without paging through a document or sifting through large PDFs.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a plan that reflects the values of the residents of Kenton County. This plan is the quintessential way that residents can have a say in how local resources are used, and determine how future growth occurs in Kenton County.

More information is available on the project’s website: www.direction2030.org.

NKAPC senior planner receives KAPA award

Posted on May 27, 2014
NKAPC senior planner Andy Videkovich (right) receives this year's Young Planner Award from Kentucky American Planning Association (KAPA) president Ryan Libke. This distinction goes to a 35-year old or younger candidate in Kentucky who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to leadership, professional development and the advancement of the field of planning.

Congratulations, Andy!

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on May 23, 2014
We hear a lot about the growing demand for communities where people can walk and bike safely. Urban Land, the online magazine of the Urban Land Institute, asked developers working in Houston, London, Memphis, Nashville, and Seattle to share their experiences with the market for walkable and bicycle-friendly development.

Read these developers’ experiences on accommodating walking and cycling into their new developments. As always, they’re provided here for whatever they’re worth.

Views expressed in this article do not reflect an official position or policy of the NKAPC. The article is presented here to provide input for those interested in today’s land use planning issues.

Planners prepare Direction 2030 plan for final public hearing

Posted on May 23, 2014
Nearly two years in the making and over 150 public meetings later, Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is in the final stages of completion. Draft policies and recommendations are being finalized, task force comments are being discussed, outreach to legislative bodies is being undertaken, and a web-based plan is in the works.

One final public input session is also currently being discussed prior to submitting an application to the Kenton County Planning Commission for consideration in September.

Draft policies and recommendations cover eight topic areas: economy, housing, mobility, land use, environment, community facilities, utility management, and regional and subarea plans. This is the first major update since the comprehensive plan was first crafted and adopted in 1972. Several major policy changes are being considered based on changing demographics and market conditions.

The recommended land use map will include new categories of mixed use and a more generalized definition of commercial to allow for market conditions to direct land usage. Jobs were indicated as the highest priority for those that provided input throughout the process. Industrial land use policies while always aiming to seek more land for economic development also strives to bring attention to the need for infrastructure in areas reserved for these uses.

In addition, the need to provide community amenities and a wider mix of housing types to attract a talented workforce is discussed.

“This plan represents the varied viewpoints of everyone in this community,” said Paul Darpel, Chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. “We heard everything from the need to attract jobs, provide for good housing, protection of property rights, accommodating multi-modal options, consideration of public health, and the environment throughout this process. We have tried to capture everything and present it as a vision for Kenton County.”

The draft policies also recognize the county’s four distinct subareas for the first time and the different needs of these areas. The four subareas include urban, first ring suburbs, suburban, and rural, each contributing differently to the regional and local economy.

The plan recognizes the need to focus urban development north of Walton Nicholson Pike while preserving the heritage to the south by promoting rural development and preservation policies. Increased collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries and the need for regional thinking is also addressed.

“The recommended policies also take into account other planning efforts underway such as OKI’s strategic regional planning effort, the Kenton County transportation plan, and the South Kenton planning effort in addition to the needs and vision that local jurisdictions have for their communities. This planning process brings it all together to represent one voice for Kenton County,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC’s planning manager.

Draft policies will be presented to the public in late summer and then to the Kenton County Planning Commission in early fall. More information about the project can be found at the Direction 2030 website.

Planning director earns Certified Floodplain Manager status

Posted on May 23, 2014
Martin Scribner, AICP, NKAPC’s director of planning and zoning, recently passed the certification exam for national Certified Floodplain Manager designation. Scribner currently serves as floodplain manager for 13 of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions and this certification will aid him in those duties.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers established this national certification program. The program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhance the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain managers.

The role of the nation's floodplain managers is expanding due to increases in disaster losses, the emphasis being placed upon mitigation to alleviate the cycle of damage-rebuild-damage, and a recognized need for professionals to adequately address these issues. This certification program lays the foundation for ensuring that highly-qualified individuals are available to meet the challenge of breaking the damage cycle and stopping its negative drain on the nation's human, financial, and natural resources.

The professional certification is recognized as a way to:
•    improve floodplain managers’ knowledge of floodplain management concepts;
•    promote an understanding of relevant subject matter that is consistent nationwide;
•    convey new concepts and practices; and
•    build partnerships among organizations and agencies that share the goal of advancing sound floodplain management.
“I’m proud that Martin took on this challenge and passed the exam,” stated Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “Having a certified floodplain manager on staff could well have a positive financial impact for those of our constituents who own property in one of the county’s many floodplains.”

A benefit for a community that employs a Certified Floodplain Manager and is a member of the National Flood Insurance Program may be eligible for certain flood insurance discounts that are passed on to the property owners.

“This provides one more example of the value of our collaborative One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program, and ultimately of NKAPC. It would be nearly impossible—financially speaking—for each one of our 20 local governments to pursue the responsibilities we provide in their names,” Gordon concluded.

Covington fire incident illustrates value of building codes

Posted on May 23, 2014
A little-noticed event in Covington early this month provided the perfect illustration of one of the services NKAPC provides to the community. Given that May is Building Safety Month, this incident was a particularly useful illustration of the value of building codes.

A gentleman, living in a turn-of-the-century school that was converted to apartments in the 1980s and gutted and remodeled recently under a permit issued by NKAPC, survived a fire. He was lying on his couch smoking and fell asleep. He has several medical issues that include the need to be on continuously-supplied oxygen; the tube delivering the oxygen was reportedly involved in the fire.

The gentleman was able to rescue himself by reaching the corridor where he was protected by building code-rated construction and a building code-rated self-closing door. The sprinkler head above the couch opened and extinguished the fire. The only thing burned, other than the occupant, was the couch and coverings he had to stay warm. The man was admitted to the hospital with minor issues. All other occupants were allowed back in their units after a short period of time.

As building codes professionals remind people periodically, “When we do our jobs, nothing happens.”

Kenton County transportation plan nears June completion

Posted on May 23, 2014
OKI and NKAPC staffs began studies last summer for a new Kenton County transportation plan. The collaboration researched mobility issues, analyzed transportation data, prompted meetings with the project’s advisory team, and included input directly from the public. It is now yielding a plan with nearly 70 recommendations.

“Recent efforts to collect input on the plan were very successful,” explained Robyn Bancroft, AICP, Strategic Planning Manager for OKI. “Through our outreach efforts, coupled with promotion from NKAPC, we received almost 400 views of the draft recommendations page during April. Of those viewers, more than 60 individual comments were received from the public.”

The comments received during the comment period helped to further refine the draft recommendations and move them toward a more finalized product.

The advisory team met in early May to consider revisions based on public input. The team also worked to define the final list of projects and refine the recommendation rankings. Work is now underway to prepare the final document with an early-June target date for completion. The final plan should be available online in mid- to late-June.

Ranging from filling sidewalk gaps to improving major interstate interchanges, the recommendations cover a wide swath of mobility needs for the county’s citizens. Reconstructing the westbound I-275 interchange with I-71/75, creating the Licking River Greenway Trail, constructing a new Fourth Street Bridge, finishing the sidewalk along Dixie Highway in Covington, and building a new Edgewood Park & Ride are all multimodal recommendations found within the plan.

The preparation of this plan coincides with the Direction 2030 comprehensive planning project that is in the final phase. “Transportation is a major element of our comprehensive planning process,” explained Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC’s planning manager.

“In an effort to be good stewards of public money, we decided to combine both efforts and use the OKI-NKAPC transportation plan as the basis for our transportation recommendations in Direction 2030. We recognize that there are mobility needs beyond major roadways but the transportation plan is a good overview of the predominant needs in the county.”

You may check the NKAPC or OKI websites for more information on the transportation plan.

“Impressive” data, expertise aid tree canopy study

Posted on May 23, 2014
The Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council was awarded a grant from the U.S. Forest Service in December 2013 to develop land classifications and forest canopy data for Kenton, Campbell, and Boone counties. This data will be used to develop tree planting plans for several areas in the region and can be used as models for other communities.

After pursuing a request for proposals process this spring, the Urban Forestry Council awarded a work contract to SavATree Consulting Group which includes the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory. Project completion is expected by July 2014.

For its part, the Urban Forestry Council created a GIS and strategic planning committee; an interdisciplinary group of GIS specialists, planners, certified arborists, and others together to help with this project and beyond.

“NKAPC’s Ed Dietrich (planner) and Kyle Snyder (GIS specialist) will play integral roles on the committee; bringing Ed’s planning background, and Kyle’s GIS/forestry background. The motion to form this committee, which was unanimously voted into council that day, couldn't have happened without their support," said Mathew Frantz, ISA, co-chair of the Urban Forestry Council, and chair of the newly-formed GIS and strategic planning committee.

Local data were leveraged in order to keep project costs down and insure success with a rapid turn-around time. LINK-GIS provided LiDAR, imagery, and other data; some federal data such as National Agriculture Imagery Program data will also be used to aid in consistency.

LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. LINK-GIS’ LiDAR data provide extremely accurate elevations.

Upon receiving the LINK-GIS data, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, director of the University of Vermont’s Spatial Analysis Lab responded, “That is an impressive collection of data you have! We work with a lot of communities and few are up to the standards that you folks are. Thanks for the speedy turn-around. We look forward to adding to your collection of outstanding data.”

This project will provide the NKAPC/LINK-GIS partnership with valuable data such as: forest canopy, seven classifications of land cover data, and an inventory of potential planting areas. Some of the relative information will include canopy height and approximate age of the trees.

This data will be useful in comparisons to past canopy studies (Kenton 1995 and 1999; Campbell 1999) and future ones. Potential planting plans will be valuable for day to day planning as well as for special initiatives like
Taking Root.

Become a voice for the future!

Posted on May 09, 2014
The OKI Regional Council of Governments is updating a policy plan to improve quality of life and service to the public in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana, and they want to hear from you. Issues in the plan affect everyday life in the region, such as congestion on roadways, the attractiveness of communities for business and job creation, housing for all ages, income levels and family types and adequate water and sewer facilities. The draft plan and questions to invite feedback are available online. To find out more and share your opinions, visit www.howdowegrow.org

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