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.

Young Adult Survey

Posted on October 14, 2013
NKAPC is undertaking a five-minute survey to find out what local amenities the young adults of Northern Kentucky desire and why.

If you live or work in the Northern Kentucky region, your input is greatly appreciated.

The survey will be open until Friday, November 22. Please feel free to forward to friends and family within this demographic.

Click the link to the Young Adult Survey.

APA National Community Planning Month

Posted on October 04, 2013
APA National Community Planning Month

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on September 19, 2013
Local officials and citizens wanting to help upgrade their existing communities might want to read up on the concept of ‘walkability’ as they consider their options.

This month we highlight the topic of ‘walkability’ as explored by Jeff Speck in his new book The Walkable City. The analysis comes from an online blog published by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. In it Speck writes, “There are real benefits to the local community when cities decide to become more walkable.”

Want to know about the economic, health, and environmental benefits Speck asserts come with walkability? You can access 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.

New sidewalk inventory provides valuable information

Posted on September 19, 2013
NKAPC staff undertook and completed a county-wide sidewalk inventory earlier this year. Locations of all sidewalks, pathways, trails, and crosswalks were documented along with materials to the extent that they can be determined from aerial imagery.

This information has already proven valuable in various planning projects including assessment of existing conditions for the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan and the Kenton County Transportation Plan update efforts that is currently underway.

A preliminary review of the sidewalk inventory indicates that the urban cities of Covington, Ludlow and Bromley are well served by sidewalks on both sides of the street. The density and grid pattern of streets in the urban areas create an environment that is conducive to walkability.

Approximately 60 percent of the first ring suburbs that are located just outside of the urban core are served by sidewalks either one or both sides of the street.

Suburban areas including the Cities of Independence and Taylor Mill include streets with sidewalks in most of the newer subdivisions. However it is important to note that compared to the urban and first ring suburbs there is still land available for development in the suburbs.

The rural area which is predominantly south of Walton Nicholson Pike is not served by sidewalks due to the rural nature of the roadways and lower density of homes.

The next step in the process is to do a cursory evaluation of locations within the county where there are missing sidewalk linkages. A prioritization of these locations based on their proximity to schools and other key destinations will be evaluated. This could assist in pursuing funding strategically to improve connectivity.

National trends indicate that people want a healthier lifestyle and providing places that are walkable is one way of promoting that. “We felt that if this community desires to have a conversation about walkability and healthy lifestyles, we need to have some baseline documentation on our existing infrastructure,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC’s planning manager. “Now that we have this information, we can work with legislative bodies on key locations where sidewalks may be missing and pursue those opportunities.”

These data will also be used in the update to the Kenton County transportation plan which will be multi-modal in nature, analyzing the need for all forms of transportation. This includes driving, walking and biking. Additionally, when transportation dollars are sought, this information will be useful to illustrate the need for infrastructure.

Staff participates in disaster preparedness exercise

Posted on September 19, 2013
During the past two months, three GIS personnel from NKAPC were trained to assist emergency responders during emergencies while a fourth staff member participated in a regional training exercise using these same tools.

 “We have found GIS mapping to be one of the most important tools needed when responding to a major disaster: centralized, readily available, highly accurate information is mission critical,” said Steve Hensley, Director of Kenton County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“During these events we have utilized the dedicated staff of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission to assist us with GIS mapping and structural inspections. On every occasion, where we have utilized their services, Dennis Gordon and his staff have performed over and above expectation.”
Joe Busemeyer, GISP, Principal GIS Programmer; Gretchen Brown, Associate GIS Specialist; and Kathy Stephens, GISP, Associate GIS Specialist, attended training seminars for WebEOC (Web Emergency Operation Control) and RAVEN911 (Regional Asset Verification & Emergency Network). Ryan Kent, GISP, Principal GIS Specialist; Christy Powell, GISP, Senior GIS Programmer; and Tom East, Senior GIS Specialist, have also been trained on these systems. Training is administered by the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). Its coverage area consists of 12 counties in the Tri-State area referred to as SOSINK (Southwestern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana and Northern Kentucky).

The main purpose of UASI is to address the unique planning, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas. The initiative also assists in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism. The UASI headquarters for the Cincinnati metro area is located the Regional Operations Center (ROC) in Cincinnati.

Training for the WebEOC and RAVEN911 software components was conducted by Steven C. Siereveld (ROC Technology Planner). The WebEOC software is an incident management system that can be accessed through the internet. This enables WebEOC software users to assist in disaster management from anywhere there is internet access; thus not having to be at the ROC.

UASI uses WebEOC to coordinate the use of the region’s assets. It provides a link from UASI to local Emergency Operation Centers during real-time events and exercises. It allows multiple emergency personnel agencies to have access to real-time information simultaneously.

RAVEN911 is an internet based mapping system developed from the perspective of an emergency operator utilizing exemplary technical expertise, and the latest in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer technology. The RAVEN911 mapping system brings together responder defined critical data sets with easy to use mapping tools (or widgets), thus allowing users to interact with the map in a meaningful and efficient way during an emergency.

Some of the tools include RSS feeds of weather warnings, radar loops, earthquakes, wildfires and more. Other tools assist emergency personnel in dealing with bomb threats, plume areas, using Twitter to gather information, finding missing persons and setting up containment zones. RAVEN911 offers users access to the location of critical infrastructure and assets as well as a host of tools to gather information and analyze particular situations.

Christy Powell participated in a training exercise in Latonia that used the RAVEN911 system to determine affected properties, containment zones, and compromised infrastructure during a simulated train wreck. CSX hosted this training exercise to train local emergency responders how to safely respond to incidents on and around railroad property.

First responders from many local and state agencies spent the morning developing plans to deal with an unfolding situation involving fire and leaking chemicals. The data from the RAVEN911 system and were projected onto the wall for all to view. Additionally, an iPad with a custom LINK-GIS map application was in use by one of the groups.

“The devastation of the Piner tornado in 2012 and the flooding event in 2011 are sobering reminders that we always need to be prepared to respond to large-scale natural disasters. When faced with incidents of this size, we investigate all available resources in preparation, including those it we don’t typically utilize under normal conditions,” said Hensley.

WebEOC and RAVEN911 are critical components for putting emergency personnel in the right place at the right time during tragic events. With the training received by NKAPC staff, they can assist UASI with their mission to prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters that may occur in the SOSINK region.

Real World Dixie Fix improvements move forward

Posted on September 19, 2013
“Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you'll be surprised how successful you can be.” –Paul Bear Bryant

Success in planning is often measured by implementation of adopted studies and reports. A great example of implementation currently taking place can be found along Dixie Highway. Continued efforts have been underway to implement recommendations from The Dixie Fix plan, which studied Dixie Highway from Covington to Boone County. Projects ranging from median beautification to intersection realignment have taken place this year, all stemming from recommendations of the 2006 plan.

One major change to the roadway is currently under construction in the Erlanger / Elsmere area of the roadway. The realignment of side streets in this area eliminates an offset intersection and consolidates two traffic signals into one. The improved intersection will help increase safety by reducing turning conflicts.

“Realigning this intersection was the number 3 improvement out of all 36 ranked regional priorities in the study and will go a long way to help reduce travel times and improve safety,” said Robyn Bancroft, Strategic Planning Manager for OKI and project manager of The Dixie Fix study.

Another change already made is median improvements in front of Crestview Hills Town Center, near the southern city limit with Edgewood. “The median on Dixie needed repair and we wanted to do something to make this heavily traveled entrance to our city more aesthetically pleasing,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier. “We applied for grants and were awarded funds that helped calm traffic and visually improve the roadway.”

Additionally, a new bus stop was added in front of the Town Center and the city worked with Edgewood to install new sidewalks along Dixie. Mayor Meier added, “We go back to the study recommendations frequently and are very interested in seeing the study implemented to help improve this vital road within our city.”

While these two projects are very noticeable, much work is going on behind the scenes that will result in new construction and renovation. Intersection improvements at Kyles Lane are currently being designed by KYTC and the City of Fort Wright. These improvements will assist drivers turning left onto Kyles from southbound Dixie Highway.

KYTC reports that the needed property is currently being appraised and work is taking place on utility design. The Transportation Cabinet anticipates construction at Dixie and Kyles in late 2014.

The City of Covington is also seeking funding for improvements to the Pike Street - Main Street area of Dixie Highway.

While priorities and external factors can change the details of any plan over time, the overall goals of the project remain intact. Addressing the main goals of improving safety, mobility, maintain reasonable and adequate access from adjoining properties, fostering economic development, increasing multimodal options, and improving aesthetics remain as important today as they were in 2006.

Keeping that vision in mind and addressing improvements that help all travelers along and through the Dixie Highway corridor is, and will continue to be an important standard for Kenton County communities to strive to achieve.

The Dixie Fix plan is available online.

… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on August 28, 2013
Discussions on planning in Kenton County often prompt someone involved to question the need for land use planning when so much of the county’s developable land is “already built out.”

This month we highlight the value of that question in light of a growing local interest in revitalizing these suburbs developed in the 1950s and 1960s. (See the previous article relating how the City of Erlanger is addressing this challenge.) Interestingly, cities that developed before the advent of the automobile are providing a useful model for this redevelopment.

The July edition of UrbanLand magazine, published by the Urban Land Institute, speaks to this issue in an article titled “New Suburbanism: Reinventing Inner-Ring Suburbs.”  You can access 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.

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