… for whatever it’s worth…

Posted on January 08, 2013
This month we continue a new feature initiated last September... for whatever it's worth. As NKAPC staffers keep themselves up to date regarding what's happening in other communities of the tri-state, the commonwealth, and the US, they find reports periodically that deserve a local audience.

This month we provide a September 2012 article from The Economist magazine. It provides information from recent studies that show automobile usage is declining in the US… and not just due to impacts of the Great Recession. If true, this trend could have far-reaching impacts on communities across the nation.

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.


Staffer assumes chair of regional surveyors’ group

Posted on January 08, 2013
Northern Kentucky’s chapter of the Kentucky Association of Professional Surveyors (KAPS) has elected Steven Lilly, PLS, as its chairman for 2013. Lilly works with local surveyors through his role as Land Surveying Analyst at NKAPC. He has been a professional land surveyor since 2002 and has worked in NKAPC’s infrastructure engineering department since 2004.

KAPS was founded in 1968 and has grown to nearly 400 public- and private-sector members in multiple states. Its purpose is to maintain and perpetuate an organization for members having common professional problems and interest; to provide effective forums for discussion and united action on the part of its members for the enhancement and betterment of professional recognition, status and conditions of employment; and, for other matters which will contribute to the welfare of its members and the government and the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Task force ready with statement of goals, objectives

Posted on January 08, 2013
A proposed statement of goals and objectives for Kenton County’s first all-new comprehensive plan since 1972 is complete and nearly ready for legislative review. Final action will begin with a public hearing before the Kenton County Planning Commission and conclude with votes before each of Kenton County’s 20 local governments.

In its current form, the statement includes three guiding principles—public participation, economic considerations, and the necessary interrelationship between them. Each was a topic brought up frequently during the 70-meeting public input process that contributed greatly to the proposed statement. The guiding principles are intended to be considered in conjunction with each goal during the decision making process.

The goals and related objectives are organized in seven categories—mobility, the economy, healthy communities, natural systems, health, community identity, and governance. As with the guiding principles, these categories came directly from comments received at public meetings, small group meetings, city meetings, and subsequent discussions with the Direction 2030 task force.

“We took our time to speak and meet with any resident, organization, or legislative body that expressed an interest in the process,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC’s planning manager. “We also sought out groups that are traditionally not involved in the planning process to get a well-rounded view on issues affecting our residents.”

When adopted by each of Kenton County’s 20 legislative bodies, the statement of goals and objectives will offer an integrated planning vision that recognizes the different planning needs of each of those elected bodies.

More information on Direction 2030—including the most current draft—can be found on the project website.


Area Planning Council elects new officers for 2013

Posted on January 08, 2013
Members of the area planning council—the 20-member board representing each of Kenton County’s local governments—met last week for their annual organization meeting. In addition to ongoing business, the group elected officers for 2013 and selected three individuals to serve on the area planning commission.

Those elected to serve as officers through next January’s organizational meeting are Fort Mitchell Mayor Chris Wiest as president, Edgewood Mayor John Link as vice-president, and Elsmere Mayor Marty Lenhof as secretary.
 
Covington Mayor Sherry Carran, former Park Hills councilman Dick Spoor, and former Fort Wright Mayor Gene Weaver, were selected to serve two-year terms on the area planning commission. These three will serve alongside former Fort Wright mayor Tom Litzler, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, former Fort Mitchell Mayor Bill Goetz, and Edgewood Councilwoman Nancy Atkinson through 2013.

The area planning council and area planning commission are responsible for the administrative affairs of land use planning in Kenton County. The council is made up of one elected official from each of the county’s 20 local jurisdictions. Among its responsibilities are review and approval of the annual budget, selection of seven individuals to oversee the staff, and selection of an independent auditor to review the organization’s books annually.

Despite assumptions to the contrary, the area planning commission holds oversight responsibilities for the staff. It does not make land use decisions as those duties are pursued according to state law by the Kenton County Planning Commission.

The area planning council and commission have served Kenton County since 1961. More information is available on nkapc.org.


Latest 2012 GIS digital images ready to be uploaded

Posted on January 08, 2013
Last year at this time, LINK-GIS partners were anxiously waiting for good weather so that planes equipped with special cameras could capture images for their GIS programs. The resulting images are now about to be uploaded to the LINK-GIS website next month for use by the public.

In addition to the benefits provided by the updated photography, LINK-GIS partners saved approximately $90,000 through a collaborative effort with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. By flying Kenton and Campbell counties together, the partnerships were able to save an estimated 15 percent of the projected cost.

It is important to note that each county pays only for data collected within its own territory.

Between the March 2012 aerial flight and now, the LINK-GIS team conducted quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) review of the 1,693 individual images that provide a seamless view of Kenton and Campbell Counties. Every team member reviewed each product for image stretching, blurring, and precision standards that meet standards of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. LINK-GIS data has met these standards since the first aerial acquisition in 1999.

Each of the two LINK-GIS partnerships consists of the county fiscal court and PVA along with SD1 and the Northern Kentucky Water District with NKAPC as managing partner.

The last time the LINK-GIS partnerships acquired these same imagery products was in 2007; five years ago. More information on LINK-GIS can be found on its website or nkapc.org.

KCPC committee nears completion of new regulations

Posted on January 08, 2013
Kenton County Planning Commission’s Subdivision Regulation Committee has completed its review of more than 600 suggested revisions to its draft subdivision regulations for Kenton County. That review resulted in a consensus between competing interest groups in most cases. The single issue that prompted the most discussion was street design and subsurface drainage.

“Since the Kenton County Planning Commission adopted its first subdivision regulations in the late 1970’s, the provisions haven’t included any requirement for subsurface drainage except in limited locations,” said Scott Hiles, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “Staff was directed this time to change that and add new requirements that would achieve better performing streets that have fewer pavement failures over time.”

The draft regulations developed by staff included those provisions.

After months of review and comments from four main interest groups—the Northern Kentucky Homebuilders Association, the Northern Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, Henry Fischer of Fischer Homes, and the Kenton County Mayor’s Group—the committee directed staff to revise the draft to:
•  limit concrete to crushed limestone aggregate to reduce D-cracking and surface deterioration;
•  increase pavement and subgrade cross-slopes for better pavement drainage;
•  increase the quality of expansion material at all expansion joints to increase their effectiveness and longevity;
•  increase amounts of expansion material at driveways, on the outside of street curves, and the terminus of the street to reduce the effects of street creep;
•  require edge drains under the curb where 51% of the adjoining lot drains toward the street and also in sag locations for increased subsurface drainage; and
•  require a detailed pavement analysis performed by a geotechnical engineer for each project to determine any other pavement and drainage enhancements that should be utilized.

The noted requirement for edge drains is similar to the design proposal made by the engineers’ group. While committee members did not direct staff to require a full drainage blanket under all pavements as the Mayor’s Group recommended, they attempted to address the issue by requiring a detailed pavement analysis on every project.

“The committee agreed that a drainage blanket is needed in certain situations,” said Hiles. “But it also believed that requiring them everywhere as a minimum standard was overkill. In the end they determined that a geotechnical engineer should decide precisely where they were needed following the required pavement analysis. The geotechnical engineer could also require other improvements such as more edge drains or longitudinal drains.”

Staff is currently in the process of crafting the new street design standards established by the committee. When complete, the committee will distribute the new standards to the four interest groups in preparation for a roundtable meeting tentatively scheduled for February 28th. The goal will be to give these four groups the opportunity to discuss the design proposal and to provide the committee with additional feedback. After this meeting, the committee will give staff a final directive on what design proposals should be included in the draft regulations.

The final step will be to schedule the resulting draft to a public hearing before the full county planning commission membership. The plan is to hold that hearing and adopt the new regulations this spring.


Brochure for identifying landslides available soon

Posted on December 08, 2012
The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), the University of Cincinnati (UC), and the local Hillside Trust are spearheading an effort to provide landslide information to local landowners in an easy-to-understand format. The organizations believe that more understanding is needed by local landowners regarding sensitivities present for landslides in this area.

Over the past year, KGS obtained LiDAR data from the LINK-GIS partnership and used these data to determine areas where landslides have occurred. KGS worked with UC staff to develop a large foldable two-sided document that has helpful photos, maps, and information. The Hillside Trust contributed $5000 to the effort so a smaller brochure could be printed for wider distribution.

KGS, UC, and the Hillside Trust will be continuing to work together while bringing other interested parties from Ohio and Indiana into the process. These groups are also in the planning stages for a symposium on landslides that would take place in the fall of 2013.

More information about the brochure will be published as this collaborative effort continues.


Envista improves online coordination of roadway projects

Posted on December 08, 2012
Local public works and utility officials have worked with NKAPC staff over the last four years to cooperate fully in scheduling pavement and roadway maintenance activities.  The increased communication and coordination has been facilitated by the LINK-GIS online tool called Envista.

This past construction season, the online tool was used by all entities in Kenton and Campbell Counties that want to use it. The result cut down frustrations felt by the commuting public, decreased the need for pavement cuts, and provided savings to locals.

Representatives from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, 22 cities in the two counties, the water and sanitation districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Duke Energy, and Cincinnati Bell are now fully enabled to use the LINK-GIS tool.

“We started a user group for the officials to learn how each agency is using the system and to keep them up to date on software changes,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, NKAPC’s director for GIS administration. All participating entities can see current and upcoming projects through the central communication tool and can identify conflicts and opportunities to work together.

Brush cautioned, “The system is only as good as the data that are put into it. So, in order to make the tool function effectively, NKAPC staff is reminding and aiding local governments and utilities to update and check their projects for any information that would be useful to others looking at the same street segment.

“The online tool has helped to save money and promote working together through coordination. The tool has also helped the participating entities to use their road construction and maintenance dollars shrewdly, which in turn has allowed significant cost savings for local citizens.”


Independence ok’s new zoning district

Posted on December 08, 2012
After a nearly two and a half year process, the final proposed new zoning district recommended by a small area study was adopted by the Independence City Council recently. This final district allows for types of development that were not previously anticipated by the city’s zoning code. It was heard at a public hearing before the Kenton County Planning Commission on October 4th and subsequently sent to the city council for action.

This city action is the culmination of work by a steering committee of citizens appointed in late 2009. The charge presented to the group by Independence City Council was to implement recommendations of the Independence Community Small Area Study, adopted by the city and the Kenton County Planning Commission in 2007.

The appointed steering committee met monthly to review current zoning requirements, small area study recommendations, and zoning alternatives. The members’ geographic focus was for areas around downtown Independence, McCullum Pike, and the intersection of McCullum Pike with new KY 17.

The newly-adopted district is designated the Gateway Mixed Use Zone (GMU), which permits mixed-use developments with an emphasis on aesthetics and connectivity. This district illustrates trends in current development markets that are relatively new in this part of the country.

The GMU Zone focuses on the city’s desire to create a new gateway into Independence, one that will not compete with the southern gateway commercial area and the historic downtown.

Some citizens voiced apprehension about the new zoning districts before the final vote. In the end, however, city officials responded to public sentiment heard during the small area study process.

Before any recommendations were made, months were spent focused on educating the committee and making sure everyone was on the same page.

While not all committee members were in agreement on every provision of the new district, consensus was achieved on all major issues. The committee also made several alterations based on input received from the public. One of these was the decision to increase the size of the minimum development area and to extend the boundary to the west to include more land.



Erlanger charrette process seeks public’s imagination

Posted on December 08, 2012
CommonwealthStation will develop over time within an area across Commonwealth Avenue from the Erlanger City Building according to a strategy being developed with the assistance of city residents. Under a contract between the city and NKAPC, meetings with residents were held recently to help with a community vision for this area—a vision that will be captured in a new form-based zoning code for the area.

A form-based code is a place-specific tool. Unlike conventional zoning, it cannot be applied to different, individual areas around the city.

“A form-based code would help give the area and the people and the property there a little boost,” said Erlanger Mayor Tom Rouse. “It’s an attempt to take a look at the area and give it a shot in the arm.”

The city decided to create this community vision through a process called a “charrette”. A charrette is an intensive multi-day planning and design session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a co-author of the vision.

The City of Erlanger held the charrette on November 16 and 17. A design team of professors and students from Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning were hired to assist in this activity. Outreach for the event included the distribution of more than 150 flyers to businesses and residents, signs posted throughout the area, notice posted online and on the electronic message board in front of the city building.

Over the two-day period, residents, business owners, and people who work in the area had the opportunity to offer their feedback and hear more formal presentations given at the end of each day. The design team worked both days to incorporate comments from the public, the steering committee, and the city into multiple development alternatives for the site. The design teams will produce refined final versions of each of the alternatives in December, which will then be presented to the public for additional feedback.


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