A tribute to an NKAPC Navy veteran

Posted on December 04, 2013
Thanksgiving time in 1968 a young 17-year old Dennis Richard Uchtman took advice from his older brother, who was on leave from the Navy for the holidays, “Join the Navy now!”

After forging his mother’s signature on a required Navy form Uchtman joined the Navy Reserves by signing a six-year commitment.

His first challenge was boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base in the middle of winter. Afterward he did two years on active duty reporting to the USS Wright CC-2 in Norfolk, Virginia. That ship was decommissioned several months later and he was assigned to the USS Belknap DLG 26, the first in its class of guided missile destroyers and to carry the SH-2 helicopter on deployment.  

While on active duty Uchtman traveled to Athens, Greece; Naples, Italy; and his favorite port, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

On ship Uchtman would stand watch on the bridge and volunteer to paint the hull. Many seamen were afraid of heights, but he did not mind sitting on a 12-inch board and dangling over the side of the vessel. He was at home with this job, and liked the peace and quiet.

Uchtman was proud to serve his country and enjoyed his time in the Navy. The best gift he received on Christmas Eve in 1974 was his honorable discharge papers, signed by President Richard Nixon. Thank you for serving, Seaman Uchtman. Anchors aweigh!

Uchtman works in the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department as Codes Administrator, and has been serving the citizens of Kenton County for eight years.

Mayors, engineers come to agreement on street standards

Posted on December 04, 2013
In July 2013 a third roundtable discussion was held between The Kenton County Planning Commission’s Subdivision Regulation Committee, the Mayor’s Group, the NKSPE, HBA and Henry Fischer in an attempt to reach consensus on issues primarily surrounding street design, testing and subsurface drainage. For nearly three years each of these groups had varied recommendations regarding what standards should be included in the Draft Subdivision Regulations for Kenton County.

Unfortunately, the third roundtable meeting failed to find common ground between the groups. However, the Sub Reg Committee used this result as an opportunity to present the groups with a challenge. They asked the groups if they would be willing to form their own committee in one last attempt to find design solutions to these issues that all of them could support together. The groups accepted the challenge and began the task of scheduling meetings.

Within a short time after the last roundtable meeting, representatives from the Mayor’s Group, the NKSPE, HBA and Henry Fischer began meeting twice a week, and by their account they ultimately met a total of 28 times. Their discussions also included various public officials, engineers, representatives from the asphalt industry, local contractors and concrete producers. The results of their efforts culminated in a presentation of their conclusions to the Sub Reg Committee on the evening of November 21, 2013.

As the group began presenting their findings, one of the first statements made was that all of the representatives within the group had reached consensus on all of the recommendations that were about to be discussed.

“I thought it was great when I heard that,” said Paul Darpel, Kenton County Planning Commission Chair. “That was the challenge we gave them; Take the time you need, meet at your own pace and try to find solutions that will result in better infrastructure for Kenton County. It looks like that’s exactly what they did.”

Some of the presentation’s highlights included:

•    A Geotechnical Engineering report required for all projects that would determine if standards needed to be increased.
•    Increased subgrade and pavement cross-slopes to increase water flow to the outside edge of the pavement.
•    Concrete curb and gutter that is supported by an asphalt or aggregate base to increase stability and reduce the penetration of surface water.
•    New concrete curb design and jointing details for concrete streets to lesson maintenance requirements and increase joint durability.
•    Edge drains required at the curb along both sides of the street to facilitate subsurface drainage.
•    New expansion material and installation locations to reduce street creep.
•    An improved concrete and asphalt mix design to increase overall pavement life-span; and
•    New standards for asphalt testing to ensure the material conforms to the new mix design.

These represent only a partial list of the recommended improvements to the street design issue. The group stated that there are a few issues where final design parameters are still being hammered out, but that they expected to finish these details soon. Based on the presentation, the Sub Reg Committee directed staff to begin working with the group to incorporate whatever recommendations could be incorporated now in the Draft Subdivision Regulations, and help establish the final specifications for the issues still being discussed.

“It looks like we’re moving close to adoption,” said Paul Darpel. “Once we make the final revisions to the Draft Regulations and work out the final specifications for the remaining issues, we should be on track to get these adopted in the first quarter of next year.”

The committee concluded by thanking the participants for their dedication to the effort and congratulating them on their ability to find common ground on all of the issues.  

Read our current newsletter

Posted on November 07, 2013
NKAPC publishes a monthly online newsletter that focuses on local planning and development-related subjects. Becoming a subscriber is free, and an email version of the newsletter will be sent to you automatically. All past and current issues of this publication are available to everyone visiting nkapc.org.

Join our mailing list today!

KC Transportation Plan

Posted on October 15, 2013
A transportation plan for Kenton County was adopted by the OKI Board in March 2003. The plan was intended to meet Kenton County’s transportation needs to year 2030, however a decade has passed since this plan was adopted and much has changed. Population growth south of KY 16, land use shifts, a worldwide economic recession, and growing elderly population are just a few of the changes that have created new challenges to the way people and goods travel in Kenton County. Due to these and many other factors, a fresh look at Kenton County’s current and future transportation needs has been recognized by county leaders and will be addressed by this new plan.
Visit oki.org/kenton for more information.

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on October 14, 2013
Much has been written over the past five years about trends in new development, particularly in terms of suburban versus urban. In her new book The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, Leigh Gallagher writes, “Not all suburbs are going to vanish, of course, but the trends are undeniable.”

In a recent article in the online version of UrbanLand magazine, Gallagher who is assistant managing editor at Fortune speaks to a number of issues involving the suburbs. Specifically, she cites three primary reasons why urban areas are seen as most promising for new opportunities.
  • The nuclear family is no longer the norm, with marriage and birth rates in decline, although they have recently plateaued at a lower level.
  • As the price of gasoline increases, people are driving less, buying cars less often, and, in some instances, even forgoing a driver’s license.
  • Cities are booming, while the suburbs are seeing more poverty and crime that they may be ill-equipped to deal with.
The article and the book are interesting reading regardless of whether you believe current trends. Check out Gallagher’s view 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.


Villa Hills, Park Hills unite with joint code enforcement board

Posted on October 14, 2013
Seven Kenton County jurisdictions have worked together on code enforcement administration since 2006. Two more jurisdictions are scheduled to join the collaborative effort before the end of the year. Villa Hills and Park Hills councils are in the process now of acting on the interlocal agreement under which the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board operates.

The seven current participating jurisdictions include Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Fort Wright, Kenton Vale, Lakeside Park, Taylor Mill, and unincorporated Kenton County. Under the interlocal agreement, each jurisdiction appoints one member to serve a four-year term on the board. The board’s membership will grow to nine when Villa Hills and Park Hills complete the necessary legislative action.

“Creating this joint board seven years ago made so much sense,” said Dennis Andrew Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “The collaboration has definitely strengthened the hands of the seven participating jurisdictions. I’m confident Villa Hills and Park Hills will see this too.”

The Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board was an outgrowth of NKAPC’s One Stop Shop codes administration program. As NKAPC staff stepped up code enforcement activities in each of the participating communities, they encountered a cumulative number of property owners who would not abate zoning violations on their properties.

Taking them through the local court system seemed expensive and time consuming when an appointed board of citizens could handle the cases. NKAPC staff approached those jurisdictions that didn’t already have a code enforcement board as authorized by state law. The seven acted relatively quickly to create the collaborative effort.

As envisioned by the Kentucky Revised Statutes, local code enforcement staff cite violators with a ticket much the same as a traffic officer cites a driver for speeding. The driver then has a choice to make. (S)He can either pay the fine associated with the violation or appeal the citation. All appeals go before the jurisdiction’s code enforcement board that acts in much the same role as a judge.

The Kentucky General Assembly authorized local code enforcement boards over the past decade. The goal was to cut down on the caseload before local courts and to give local communities more control over code enforcement activities in their communities. The interlocal agreement under which the Kenton County Joint Board operates allows for adding new communities that see the need to be part of a bigger, collaborative effort to administer local zoning codes.

Historic Licking Riverside among best neighborhoods in US

Posted on October 14, 2013
The American Planning Association (APA) last week announced the designation of Covington’s Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood as one of ten Great Neighborhoods for 2013. Each year during National Community Planning Month APA's Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces to highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.
 
APA singled out Licking Riverside for its outstanding 19th Century architecture, collaborative efforts by residents and local planners, scenic rivers, and city views.
 
"Having our Historic Licking Riverside neighborhood designated as one of APA's Top 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2013 validates our past and on-going efforts for historic preservation, for urban forestry as it relates to livable communities, and for improving 'quality of place' in our other neighborhoods that may not be blessed with the special attributes of Historic Licking Riverside," said Covington Mayor Sherry Carran.
 
The nine other APA 2013 Great Neighborhoods are:
  • Chinatown, San Francisco, CA;
  • Downtown Norwich, CT;
  • Downtown Decatur, Decatur, GA;
  • Central Street Neighborhood, Evanston, IL;
  • Downtown Mason City, Mason City, IA;
  • Kenwood, Minneapolis, MN;
  • Beaufort Historic District, Beaufort, SC;
  • West Freemason, Norfolk, VA; and
  • Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, WI.      
 
For more information about these neighborhoods, as well as APA's top ten Great Streets and top ten Great Public Spaces for 2013 and previous years, visit www.planning.org/greatplaces.

Subdivision submittals see big jump since Great Recession end

Posted on October 14, 2013
Subdivision activity this year in Kenton County has shown a marked increase over the last several years and has continued steadily throughout the summer months. Seven core subdivisions include most of the activity occurring. They are located in Erlanger, Independence, Villa Hills, and unincorporated Kenton County.

Some of the activity is new, stand-alone developments like Stillbrooke in Villa Hills. Stillbrooke is approved for 26 single-family lots and will prompt construction of just over 1,000 feet of new public street in the city. Because Stillbrooke is a smaller development, it is expected that it will see final construction, marketing of lots, and building new homes later this year.

Other developments are additions to older, established subdivisions like Battleridge in Independence and Lakemont in Erlanger. Battleridge has multiple entrances and is interconnected with other existing subdivisions in the vicinity of Bristow and Cody Roads. This addition contains 41 acres, is approved for 75 new single-family lots, and will account for more than 3,000 feet of new public street.

Lakemont intersects Richardson Road and is presently being expanded to include an additional 53 new single-family lots that will account for more than 1,800 feet of new public street.

Developers indicate that they may move forward later this year with new phases within other existing subdivisions. These subdivisions also are located in the Cities of Independence and Erlanger where new development activity was most prevalent before the Great Recession began.

“We’re seeing more residential development activity right now than we’ve seen in years”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of infrastructure engineering with NKAPC. “Just in the months of July through September we inspected more than 3,400 feet of new pavement.”

Hiles says this new pavement will ultimately provide access to more than 200 new building lots Given there are several more months left in the construction season, the activity is not likely to slow down any time soon.


Work begins to update the 2003 county transportation plan

Posted on October 14, 2013
NKAPC and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) partnered earlier this year to completely rework the 2003 Kenton County Transportation Plan. Since that time staff members at both agencies have worked behind the scenes to study existing conditions, review past plans, and consider where future land use demands are expected to increase within the county.

“To have a good idea of where you need to go, you have to know where you’re starting,” said Robyn Bancroft, AICP, OKI’s strategic planning manager. “We’ve been researching everything from roads with high crash rates, to congestion, to roadways with narrow widths, among a number of factors. This research will give us a comprehensive view of mobility in the county today and where the problem areas exist that need to be addressed.”

While OKI staff has focused primarily on technical transportation data, NKAPC staff has been researching anticipated land use changes in Kenton County. Members of NKAPC’s planning, building, and engineering departments met with OKI planners in late August to discuss where the county might experience the most development through the plan’s 2040 horizon. Staff considered technical demographic data, housing density changes from 1990 to 2010, vacant parcels, and existing land use, among other factors, as a guide for the discussion.

With full consideration of these factors, staff then employed their knowledge and expertise to paint a picture of where future demands might be highest.

“Once the working map is finalized with the Advisory Team’s input, we will go to work writing the land use component for the plan,” explained James Fausz, AICP, NKAPC’s lead on the study team. “Ultimately, the map and ensuing land use document will help provide scoring criteria to rank and prioritize projects as the study’s recommendations are crafted.”

The most recent milestone of the effort occurred on October 9 with the first meeting of the study’s advisory team. The group comprised of local officials, transportation agency representatives, and citizens meets at key points of the plans to provide direction for the study. The October meeting was well attended and resulted in general agreement with staff’s existing conditions findings. Members also provided guidance through comments where more direction was necessary.
 
Staff will continue to research existing conditions through the fall, examining problematic areas and looking for trends around the county.

One major way you can contribute to this effort is by taking a survey on the study’s webpage. Click on “surveys” once you are on the page and you can present your thoughts on mode choices including bicycle, bus transit, driving, freight transport, and walking.

In the meantime, if you would like to receive additional information regarding the plan via email newsletters, contact James Fausz.

All jurisdictions approve comp plan goals; staff begins text work

Posted on October 14, 2013
Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions have come together for the first time in 41 years to adopt a unified and updated statement of goals and objectives for the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan. The previous statement of goals was adopted as part of the county’s first formal comprehensive plan. That 1972 plan has been updated numerous times over the past four decades; its goals statement has not.

One of the biggest challenges to rewriting the goals and objectives involved bringing all 20 jurisdictions together and building consensus on a common vision. Significant public engagement was pursued for over a year and a half; this included over 100 meetings with varied populations and jurisdictions to develop the new statements.

The goals and objectives that are now in place reflect the varied viewpoints of Kenton County residents and provide a foundation for the preparation of the rest of the comprehensive plan.

“When we began the process, our main goal was to listen to anyone who had an idea regarding where this county should be in 20 years,” said Paul Darpel, chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. “The value in this planning effort lies in bringing all of those ideas and different viewpoints together to develop something that we can all agree on.”

“NKAPC staff did a great job of keeping the Commission, elected officials, and residents updated and involved. Kenton County Planning Commission members gave many hours of their time to this effort. We’re proud of the product we put forward. Approval by the 20 jurisdictions reflects all the hard work that has gone behind this effort. ”

The adopted statement of goals and objectives will provide direction in preparing recommendations for various elements of the comprehensive that include land use, transportation, and community facilities.

Planning staff has been researching existing conditions and looking at population projections and trends for several months in preparation for the next phase of the project. This included data collection from various resources within local, regional and national organizations.

This research along with the goals and objectives will be used to produce recommendations that KCPC members will consider towards the end of the year- long process. Coordination with local jurisdictions, opportunities for public comment via an online portal, and several other tools have been planned to seek input through the rest of the process.

“Seeking public input is very challenging in today’s world,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “Securing it requires our professional staff to think creatively and go where people are rather than expecting them to come to us. We accomplished that during this first phase and are committed to that goal as we craft the plan’s recommendations.”

A task force will oversee preparation of the plan’s recommendations over the next six to eight months.  They will then be presented to the Kenton County Planning Commission for consideration and ultimately adoption.

More information about Direction 2030 is available on the project’s website and Facebook.


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