… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on February 26, 2014
Over the last half century, many debates have centered on which land use is of greater importance, agriculture or development. Several new case studies from the Urban Land Institute show that this debate could now be a thing of the past, at least for some locations.

One such case study looks at Willowsford, a master-planned community in suburban Washington, D.C., with a range of luxury single-family housing and a wealth of amenities, including a working farm that grows more than 200 varieties of produce for residents.

Could it work in Kenton County? Check out the article here… for whatever it’s 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 land use planning issues.


Inspectors implement new building code requirements

Posted on February 26, 2014
January not only brought on a new year, it also brought the commonwealth new building code regulations. NKAPC building inspectors are administering those new building regulations now as required by law.

Kentucky moved from the 2006 model of the International Building Code to the 2012 model code. This code remains a mini/maxi code, meaning no local jurisdiction can enforce a code more or less restrictive than the model code. And for the first time since its printing of the 2002 Kentucky codes, Kentucky printed its own code with the help of the Code Administrators Association of Kentucky (CAAK), which can be purchased online.

“This is great a thing for all code users in Kentucky,” said Tim Tholemeier, one of NKAPC’s senior building officials. “No longer does one need to read the code and then go to Kentucky’s changes to see if a section has been modified.”

For a complete list of the current codes in Kentucky, click here.

One of the major changes in this new edition is that Kentucky included definitive language relevant to tents and permitting procedures for them. Tents not only need local site placement permits, but must also have model approval from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction. All tents larger than 400 square feet need to be permitted for installation with the exception of private tents.

If you have questions on whether or not a permit is needed, call NKAPC at 859. 957.2408, or you can view the code sections here.

Previous upgrades to the residential code have tried to get automatic fire suppression systems installed in all residential structures. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not adopted this method yet, but other factors now have been added to protect a home.

For instance, floor systems now require a ½ inch gypsum wallboard, 5/8 inch wood structural panel or equivalent applied to the bottom side of all floor framing member unless the building is suppressed, over a crawlspace or the floor assembly uses dimensional lumber equal to or greater than 2-inch by 10-inch nominal lumber.

With more home builders using engineered wood framing members to help with labor costs and use less construction material, other factors which would help ensure the home’s integrity under fire conditions are needed soon.


Staff develop app for collection of field data using GIS

Posted on February 26, 2014
Integrating field-collected data seamlessly into the LINK-GIS system has been a long-held goal for NKAPC staff members. Now, new software from Esri gives GIS department members the ability to roll out applications to anyone with a smartphone or tablet with GPS capabilities.

Christy Powell, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS programmer has created two projects to show how this capability can be utilized. The first project is a bike and pedestrian count application for the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department. This application will be used during the semi-annual audit in May of this year.

The second project is a building damage assessment application. During an emergency situation this application would be used to collect information such as number of people affected, contact names, and extent of damage. Since this information is stored in the cloud, even if the NKAPC building was affecting during a disaster, the maps and data would still be available. Another advantage of the application being in the cloud is that in a large disaster, inspectors from outside NKAPC would have access to the data.

In addition to geographic and tabular data, the user can capture photos and video tied to the location. The application also has built-in routing and directions.

“I’ve shown this application to people who collected building damage assessments in the past and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Powell. “We are currently working from a template provided by Esri. With input from building inspectors over the next few weeks, we will be refining the database to better meet NKAPC’s needs.”

The GIS staff has been showing this capability internally and externally over the past month. Several groups have expressed interest in creating projects. Steve Lilly, NKAPC’s land surveying analyst, says, “I’m working with the GIS department to create a survey control monument reconnaissance application. The way we collected this data in the past did not tie the photos to the field data. This system will save us time in the field, streamline our process, and cut out data entry errors.”

The ArcGIS Collector application is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market).  This application is free to download and has sample data from Esri available. A username and password provided by NKAPC are needed to connect with maps published by NKAPC and begin collecting data.


GIS staff creating updated, multi-use address database

Posted on February 26, 2014
“Ever searched for a needle in a haystack? It’s a very tedious process if you don’t have a magnet!” That is the metaphor Tom East, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS specialist, used to describe the process of finding addresses for the multi-purpose address database being built and maintained for use of LINK-GIS partners and emergency dispatch officials.

Although it may seem simple enough to compile a list of known addresses, many problems arise. Sources of the data may record addresses and road names in different ways. For example, MEADOWLARK DR and MEADOW LARK RD may actually refer to the same street, but people may have spelled and abbreviated them differently in their organization. On the other hand, they could also be two entirely different streets.

“It’s our job to resolve these discrepancies and list them as single road names or as separate road names as the case may be,” says East. “The same principle applies to individual addresses along a street.”

GIS staff has used multiple sources in building this address database. Parcel data, utility service address data, and even Google streetview scenes in a few cases, have been used to determine which addresses should be added to the database.

“One of the difficulties is that each source has a large overlap or duplication along with a smaller percentage of unique new addresses that may not be found in other sources. For example, parcel data may list a single address for a property, but utility records could list multiple unique addresses for service on that parcel.”

This fact highlights another issue – that of diminishing returns. Each source must be filtered to eliminate addresses that have been compiled already, while gleaning new ones that might be present. Eventually the number of new addresses discovered by sifting through another source begins to fall flat. Fewer and fewer new addresses can be discovered this way. The most difficult cases may require fieldwork, but as East points out, “We try to use every other affordable means before resorting to fieldwork since it is more costly, both time wise and monetarily.”

Once built, the database becomes a dynamic repository of address information that can be used for multiple purposes. Old addresses are never deleted. Instead they are marked as retired and new ones are always being added.


Recent KCPC departures take 30 years along

Posted on February 26, 2014
The terms of two long-term members of the Kenton County Planning Commission ended recently. The departures of Commissioners Barbara Carlin of Ryland Heights and Jim Cook of unincorporated Kenton County took with them 30 years of experience serving their community on the planning commission.

By action of the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly, the City of Ryland Heights moved from sixth to fifth class status. This move provided the central Kenton County community with a seat on the planning commission for the first time. It also necessitated Carlin’s departure since her seat was designated to represent the county’s sixth class communities as appointed by the Fiscal Court.

When the Ryland Heights City Commission filled its new seat on the planning commission, Carlin’s eligibility ended. She had served since 2000.

“Remember that you’re planning for the future and that you’re there for everybody, not just a few,” responded Carlin when asked if she had any advice she would like to pass along to her colleagues. “Your decisions have to make good sense and follow the guidelines set out the in comprehensive plan.”

Cook was first appointed to the Kenton County Planning Commission in 1998. By all accounts, his tenure on the county board was marked by a strong belief in and voice for southern Kenton County and the opinions held by those who live there.

Cook’s tenure ended in December when he completed his fourth term on the planning commission. Judge/Executive Steve Arlinghaus appointed Gailen Bridges to a four-year term replacing Cook.

“Remember that you represent the people, not the elected officials,” is how Cook responded when asked about thoughts he would like to pass along to the current planning commission members. “I served 16 years and wish I could continue to serve.”

Cook exhibited a good deal of pride in pointing out that he was first appointed by a Democratic judge/executive and reappointed by three Republican judges/executive to serve his neighbors in southern Kenton County.

Members of the planning commission gave each departing member a plaque and standing ovation during their last meeting as commission chairman Paul Darpel recounted their many contributions to the cause of planning in Kenton County.

“Barb and Jim were good commissioners and represented their constituents well,” said Darpel. “We obviously hate to lose good people with this much experience. We’ll miss them, both as colleagues and friends.”


Draft subdivision regulations online for public review

Posted on February 26, 2014
The long process of developing new subdivision regulations for Kenton County is one step closer to completion as of last week. A draft containing roughly 75 percent of the new provisions is online now for public review and comment.

Click this link to find the “Draft- 2014 Kenton County Subdivision Regulations” on NKAPC.org.

This draft is being made available for review prior to a resolution of final street design and construction issues, according to Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. It is to give all parties as much time as possible to review the text that has been finalized.

“The Kenton County Planning Commission is waiting on written specifications from a committee of local engineers that’s been working on street design and construction issues,” said Hiles. “Once those specifications have been completed and the planning commission’s committee has had a chance to review them, we’ll be able to finish the final 25 percent of the draft and set a date for the required public hearing.”

Hiles suggests the date for that public hearing will be late June or July.

Hiles tells prospective reviewers they can expect to see highlights and minor formatting issues in the online draft which will differ in the final version. Provisions relating to street design and construction standards are highlighted to inform readers that the selected text will probably change between now and the public hearing when the final draft is put before the community and planning commission.

That final version of the completed text will be uploaded to NKAPC’s website for review and comments prior to the late June/July public hearing.

If during your review you should you have any questions or comments about the current draft, please contact staff at 859.331.8980.

… for what it’s worth…

Posted on February 04, 2014
A discussion of open space—whether it will be provided and if so how much—seems to be part of the review process for almost any residential development these days. A recent edition of URBANLAND, the online publication of the Urban Land Institute, included interviews with five professionals whose job it is to work with this component of residential development.

Some of the issues discussed include:
•    What kinds of open space are popular now?
•    How can open space add value to real estate?
•    What are some best practices in incorporating open space?

Check out the article here… for whatever it’s 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 land use planning issues.

Permit numbers stay strong despite frigid temperatures

Posted on February 04, 2014
December and January weather usually prompts a decline in building activity in Kenton County due to cold temperatures and snow. Not this year, in spite of colder than normal temperatures and higher than usual snowfall.

NKAPC reports indicate that since January 6, 2014, when the polar vortex moved through Northern Kentucky, NKAPC has issued 43% of the 217 permits it processed since December 1.

Even with the subzero temperatures, contractors are braving the cold, completing projects, and calling for their inspections, according to Brian Sims, CBO, NKAPC’s chief building official. NKAPC staff performed 223 inspections within this time period.

“We don’t want to be out in this weather anymore than the next guy, but we have to make ourselves available to help our customers move their projects along,” said Sims.

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.

Ludlow, Villa Hills disband their boards of adjustment

Posted on February 04, 2014
Looking for ways to reduce administrative costs and to provide funds for other city programs, elected officials in the Cities of Ludlow and Villa Hills decided recently to dissolve their respective boards of adjustment, transferring that authority to the Kenton County Board of Adjustment and the costs to NKAPC’s One Stop Shop codes administration program.

Boards of adjustment have authority to make case-by-case zoning decisions on requests by property owners. Like planning commission members, board of adjustment members are citizens appointed by their local government city; they are not professional planners.

The primary duties of boards of adjustment include hearing requests to vary from dimensional regulations of the local zoning code, hearing administrative appeals from zoning enforcement and interpretation decisions, hearing conditional use requests, and hearing requests to change from one nonconforming use to another.

Ludlow and Villa Hills have each had their own board of adjustment for many years which carries the costs of staff time, legal fees, notification costs, and payments to their board members. This has proven to be expensive, as city budgets have gotten tighter. City officials have also been challenged by having to find (and retain) the required number of members in order to make legal decisions.

The Kentucky Revised Statutes require jurisdictions that pursue planning and zoning to have a functioning board of adjustment. The 1966 agreement that created the Kenton County Planning Commission stipulates that if a city does not have its own board of adjustment, then the county board will fulfill that role for the city. The cost that would have been incurred by a city for this duty essentially disappears at that point, since additional territory does not increase costs to the county board of adjustment which are borne by the One Stop Shop program.

More information on the process of disbanding a board of adjustment can be provided by NKAPC planning and zoning director Martin Scribner, AICP.

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