Geotechnical requirements providing guidance for new streets

Posted on June 01, 2017

Much has been written and said about Kenton County’s now two-year-old subdivision regulations and the specifications it includes for new street construction. One of the main reasons for the increased focus is the application of geotechnical engineering testing and reporting standards included in the regulations.

“Staff recommended increasing the geotechnical engineering standards in the subdivision development process from the beginning of the effort to write the new regulations,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “We knew that getting the geotechnical engineer involved to evaluate the suitability of the soils that supported the pavements was an important part of providing pavements that didn’t break down prematurely.”

The results of the new standards are becoming apparent just now.

“The Kenton County Planning Commission was concerned about subdivisions that had already been approved at the time the new regulations were adopted,” said Hiles. “For those developments, changing the rules that governed them mid-stream didn’t seem fair.”

Members of the planning commission approved a grace period for most subdivisions that were approved at the time the new regulations were adopted. Those developments were allowed to continue using the old regulations under certain conditions.

“That meant those previously-approved developments didn’t have to provide the additional engineering to evaluate the suitability of the soils,” said Hiles. This grace period initially limited the number of subdivision developments that were required to have the additional geotechnical engineering.

Even with the grace period, there have been 13 subdivisions since the increased standards were adopted that were required to get a geotechnical engineer’s report that evaluated the soils.

“Staff had long suspected that a major contributing factor to premature street failure was the presence of poor soils incapable of supporting the standard pavement design,” said Hiles. “But without the geotechnical assessment and oversight there was no way to require that the poor soils supporting the new streets be improved.”

Of the 13 subdivisions required to get a geotechnical engineer’s report, eight were identified as containing problem soils that would not produce the strengths necessary to adequately support the street pavements.

“That means that without the additional geotechnical engineering required by the new regulations, some of the new streets would have been constructed on soils incapable of providing proper support. Those streets could have failed prematurely because of those poor soils.”

Hiles said that of the eight subdivisions where poor soils were identified, the recommendations to remedy the issue ranged between a combination of undercutting the poor soils and replacing them with new soil capable of producing adequate strengths, to chemical stabilization of the poor soils.


GIS staffer recognized for design work in national competition

Posted on June 01, 2017

A national panel of judges selected an entry designed by Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, PDS’ geospatial data analyst, as the best in this year’s GIS Certification Institute’s annual map competition. The theme of this year’s contest was “Disaster Response” and entries were required to show how GIS could be, or has been used in a disaster response scenario.

Maps could show disaster preparation; the use of GIS during a disaster to manage emergencies, people, supplies, etc.; or, the use of GIS during post-disaster recovery efforts.

The winning entry was titled “Piner, KY Tornado 2012” The 36 x 48-inch poster map demonstrated the storm’s impacts in detail and how GIS was used by field inspection teams for damage assessment after the EF-4 tornado struck southern Kenton County.

“We didn’t take this topic lightly when choosing to enter this map,” said Hill. “While we're very much aware that four people died as a direct result of this storm, we felt that this was an opportunity to continue generating positive outcomes from this negative event.”

The most important of these positives was a new emergency warning siren installed in the Piner community. Much of this project was funded with donations from Duke Energy, Owen Electric Cooperative, and the Rotary Club of Kenton County. Before the March 2nd tornado, no emergency warning siren or system existed in the impacted area.

The Piner-Fiskburg Fire Department applied for and received a grant to purchase a new backup generator for the fire station, which did not have one previously. When the storm hit southern Kenton County, most fire stations were without power.

Finally, the paper damage assessment forms used by the Kentucky Emergency Management team to survey field damage have been upgraded to digital forms. First responders can now access the forms on tablet devices such as iPads to record field damage without the need to transfer the information from paper forms to spreadsheets.

The winning map is one in PDS’ series of analytical maps produced through its NKYmapLAB initiative. The initiative analyzes a wide variety of tabular data on a regular basis and presents them in a more visual format that facilitates understanding by the public and its elected leaders.

The Piner Tornado entry was awarded $250 which will be donated to the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP) Student Scholarship Fund. Hill currently serves as president-elect of KAMP.

For additional information about this project contact Louis Hill, AICP, GISP. The Piner Tornado map and other NKYmapLAB products are available online and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.



Staff assumes role with county economic development group

Posted on June 01, 2017

Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann formed a site readiness taskforce in 2016 to analyze land in the county and identify parcels for industrial development. The taskforce membership includes representatives from Kenton County Fiscal Court, PDS, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, the Northern Kentucky Water District, Duke Energy, REDI Cincinnati, SD1, and citizen stakeholders.

PDS and TRI-ED have been tasked with looking at areas in Kenton County for future industrial development.

“The goal is to determine where industrial development is most appropriate for the future and change the future land use vision for those areas in Direction 2030, the county’s comprehensive plan. If we set these areas aside now and plan for the necessary infrastructure to support manufacturing, we’ll provide future generations with job opportunities,” said Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration.

PDS planners and GIS staff have worked with Tri-ED to conduct an examination of all 62,206 Kenton County parcels. Through careful analysis of multiple characteristics, certain parcels were identified as having industrial potential. Parcels that were unsuited due to parcel size, existing buildings, developmentally-sensitive areas (environmental concerns), zoning, access to major roads, and access to water and sewer infrastructure were eliminated.

The analysis confirmed what many suspected; there is little land available in Kenton County for manufacturing. The initial GIS analysis yielded only 20 parcels in the county that meet all identified real estate criteria for industrial development. Among those, only six parcels can be made ready for industrial development within the next five years.

Furthermore, the only site on the list that is ready today for industrial development is the Showcase Cinemas Site in Erlanger, which is currently under contract for development.

Through the generous support of Duke Energy, nationally-renowned site selection consultant McCullum Sweeney, was contracted to provide guidance to Tri-ED for these six sites. Upon further scrutiny, there is much work needed to get these sites prepared for economic development.

“Not only do we have very few sites available for industrial development, we have very high development costs to get those sites build-pad ready,” said Wade Williams, Senior Vice President of Tri-ED. “Environmental mitigation costs are extremely high and these sites still need utility improvements and grading. They’re not ready today.”

Kenton County is home to numerous development patterns and land uses within its boundaries. The land use element of Direction 2030 states the following; “There is a need for land which has the appropriate infrastructure in place to support industrial uses. Large parcels (50 acres or more) of ready to build upon land are in particularly short supply and efforts should be made to increase the amount of such land in the county.”

The taskforce will work over the course of 2017 to develop a strategy to bring additional sites into the short-term pipeline for industrial development.

 



Small area study, cell tower regulations take top state honors

Posted on June 01, 2017

The Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) has shown once again that it is a leader in planning in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Two major PDS-managed projects won top honors from the American Planning Association Kentucky Chapter (APA-KY) in its 2017 annual planning awards competition.

Kenton County’s Regulations for Cellular Antenna Towers and Small Cell System Towers earned the Outstanding Project/Program Tool Award and the recently-adopted Villa Hills Study earned state recognition for Outstanding Achievement in a Small Jurisdiction. Both awards reflect the excellent planning efforts that were undertaken in Kenton County in 2016-2017. The two projects represented major parts of the PDS work program accomplished within the last year.

“We’re humbled that our peers selected to recognize these projects,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director of PDS. “Our efforts are always pursued with others in mind. Whether we’re talking about the planning commission [for the cell tower regulations], the City of Villa Hills and the Benedictine Sisters [for the Villa Hills Study], or those who call Kenton County home. At the end of the day, we work to help combine ideas… to create a vision. These awards really belong to KCPC and Villa Hills.”

In response to rapid changes and growing demand of personal cell services in Kenton County, KCPC facilitated and adopted new cell tower regulations. Adopted in May 2016, these regulations represent the first update to any aspect of the regulations in nearly 15 years.

“While the personal cell service industry has advanced technology over the past 20 years, little has been done locally or statewide to address these changes,” said Andy Videkovich, AICP, PDS’ current planning manager. “KCPC recognized the paradigm shift coming and responded. It was critical to take the lead on this issue.”

The regulations were developed over a six-month period under the guidance of the planning commission. The process included input from Kenton County jurisdictions and industry experts. Through careful planning and involving many stakeholders, the resulting cell tower regulations are meeting the expectations and goals that the planning commission set out to address.

“Several jurisdictions outside of Kenton County have used components of KCPC’s regulations in their efforts,” Videkovich added.

The Villa Hills Study was a 15-month planning process that examined some of the last land within Villa Hills suitable for improvements. The planning process reviewed 240 acres within the predominantly built out community and crafted recommendations for strategic change. The final plan is different because its planning horizon is only few years rather than the several decades traditional plans examine.

The Villa Hills Study is currently moving towards implementation. The Benedictine Sisters of Covington, the major property owner in the study area, closed a request for proposals window for the sale of the property in April 2017. The Sisters are currently working through the proposals to determine the future of the site. PDS staff anticipates working with the new property owner and the city on any necessary zoning amendments in the coming months.

“We look forward to continuing this award-winning standard for all our future efforts. Even if those projects aren’t recognized formally, we see it as our responsibility to provide our communities and residents with the same standard of work,” Gordon concluded.

 



Kenton County expands emergency preparedness plans with new CodeRED system

Posted on May 11, 2017
INDEPENDENCE, Ky. (May 8, 2017) – After a regional bidding process, Kenton County has joined Boone County in the implementation of the CodeRED system, a high-speed emergency notification service provided by Emergency Communications Network.

Kenton County has been provided an initial database of residential and business telephone numbers, however, all residents are encouraged to visit http://bit.ly/KCCodeRED to enroll additional contact information including cell phone numbers, text and email addresses. If you live in an area with reduced cellular/internet connectivity, please make sure to register your land line phone in addition to cellular devices. No one should automatically assume they are in the emergency contact database.

“The CodeRED system will provide County officials with a reliable, easy-to-use interface to quickly disseminate critical information to our citizens during emergencies. We are very eager to use this technology to enhance our emergency preparedness plans,” said Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann. The County anticipates using the system to notify residents in specific geographic locations of emergencies such as fires, floods, and Amber Alerts and other critical announcements such as shelter information boil notices, shelter in place and evacuations.

The CodeRED system will be imperative to the County’s emergency planning and communications outreach to both citizens and County personnel by using the system capabilities to send telephone calls, text messages, emails and social media in an effort to effectively inform residents to protect life and property.

“We need all residents to take the time to update their information,” said Homeland Security & Emergency Management Director Steve Hensley. “The success of this system is dependent upon citizens entering their information. The more accurate contacts we have, the better we can notify County residents of emergencies.”

The App can be downloaded for free from the iPhone App store as well as the Android Google Play store.

Staff preps for bicycle/pedestrian plan; grant will pay for outreach efforts

Posted on May 04, 2017
Initial steps are being taken now for a completely new bicycle and pedestrian plan for Kenton County. Preparation and preliminary research for the upcoming study has been ongoing. The public side of the study is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks and is anticipated to take about 12 months to complete. The resulting plan will replace plans adopted in 1999 and 2001.

Goals of the upcoming study include analyzing the county’s existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, identifying problematic crash locations, and recommending policy changes to improve bicycle and pedestrian use, safety, and access in Kenton County.

“It’s been almost 20 years since bicycle and pedestrian transportation has been reviewed,” said James Fausz, AICP, PDS’ long range planning manager. “Since that time, people have become more aware of these transportation options and chosen them more frequently for everything from recreation to daily commuting. Our goal is to make these options safer for people who want to use them.”

Coinciding with the start of the study is an outreach effort to promote education and awareness of bicycle and pedestrian safety. This effort was aided by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet with a generous $10,000 Paula Nye Grant.

The grant is funded through citizen donations during the purchase or renewal of the “Share the Road” license plates and is awarded annually to organizations interested in informing and educating Kentuckians on bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The grant will fund an outreach effort including public service announcements designed to educate the public on how they can be safe as cyclists and pedestrians.

“Bicycle and pedestrian transportation are an increasingly viable options in Kenton County,” said Chris Schneider, AICP, a principal planner at PDS and project manager for the study. “Educating the public to be safe cyclists and pedestrians is essential to continue this growth.”

The public service announcements will air on local cable television and will encourage public involvement and raise awareness for the upcoming bicycle and pedestrian study.

The adoption of the Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. comprehensive plan in 2014 recommended a comprehensive review and update of the existing bicycle and pedestrian plans. The comprehensive plan details the community’s vision for Kenton County and updating the bicycle and pedestrian plan is one step in achieving that vision.

To learn more about this study, get involved, and/or receive updates about its progress, visit the Direction 2030 Action website or contact Schneider.


In-house GIS collaboration earns Esri Special Achievement Award

Posted on May 04, 2017

Esri, the worldwide leader in GIS software and technology, announced last month that PDS’ Planning and GIS departments will be honored this summer with a 2017 Special Achievement in GIS award. PDS’ ongoing use of innovative ideas and multi-media methods to communicate stories, comprehensive planning initiatives, and site-readiness selections for economic development prompted the award.

PDS will be recognized in July during the 37th Annual Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) International Users Conference in San Diego.

PDS was selected from more than 150,000 organizations worldwide. Esri bestows the Special Achievement Award to organizations in each state that have made extraordinary contributions to the global society and set new precedents throughout the GIS community.

"The organizations winning this award have used GIS to produce profound work that benefits their businesses as well as the world around them," said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. "They deserve to be recognized for the dedication and diligence apparent through their work with GIS."

“We’re very proud to have earned this recognition from Esri,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “It speaks to the long and distinguished history our staff has earned for collaborating to the benefit of the communities we serve. This is our second such award from Esri for our GIS system.”

Trisha Brush GISP, Director of GIS Administration, commented, "When elected officials, planners, or development professionals work on regional projects, it’s imperative that they use the most accurate information possible."

"By working with numerous stakeholders in the community, we've been able to be creative and innovative while keeping the integrity of our good works," remarked Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, Director of Planning and Zoning.

To see some of the collaborative efforts that led to the award, visit the mapLAB gallery on the agency’s GIS website.

 


Fiscal Court, PDS resolve funding issues for collocation in Covington

Posted on May 04, 2017

The PDS Management Board voted unanimously on April 27th to accept Kenton County Fiscal Court’s invitation to move its operations to the county’s new administration building in Covington. That building will soon be under construction as the county rehabilitates and adds new space to the historic Bavarian Brewery building at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard exit from I-71/75.

The board’s decision follows several meetings between its members and Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Administrator Joe Shriver. It also follows an affirmative vote by PDS Council members—elected officials who oversee PDS on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments—following a presentation by Judge Knochelmann.

“Frankly, the county made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS Executive Director. “Making this move into cohesive space on one floor will facilitate our efficiency and workflow while also relieving us of our long-term debt was almost a no-brainer. It will also relieve Kenton County taxpayers from paying for two buildings.”

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin this fall with an anticipated occupancy date of early 2019. More information about the project may be found on the county’s website.


Members, staff honor life achievements of former executive director

Posted on May 04, 2017

Bill Bowdy, the long-time executive director of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission—now PDS—passed away last month at the UK Medical Center in Lexington following complications from a stroke. His large and loving family was at his side. He was 83.

“It’s impossible to consider any chapter of this agency’s history without at least mentioning Bill’s involvement,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director of PDS. “Planning and zoning in Northern Kentucky is what it is today largely due to his efforts. He cast a long shadow.”

After serving in the Army and completing his college education, Bowdy obtained a master's degree in urban planning from Michigan State University. He used his degree in jobs in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, Ohio before joining the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission as Assistant Director; he later became the Executive Director. He served the NKAPC for 38 years, 32 of those years as Executive Director.

Among his numerous accolades, honors, and accomplishments, Bowdy served as president of the Kentucky Planning Association from 1976-1980. He was elected the first president of the American Planning Association’s (APA) Kentucky Chapter in 1980 and served until 1984. Later, he was elected President of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), the professional standards and certification arm of APA.

Bowdy was chosen a member of AICP’s first class in its College of Fellows, the highest award the organization can bestow. He was invited by the Chinese government to speak on land use issues in the US during his term as AICP President.

“Our profession has lost one of its towering figures,” said Gordon. “Bill was the consummate professional. A planner’s planner. A true Kentucky gentleman. And, a very good friend. He’ll be sorely missed.”

 


After 12 years’ success, ‘One Stop Shop’ slated for major changes

Posted on May 04, 2017

PDS’ groundbreaking One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program (OSS) turned 12 years old this fiscal year. What started in FY05 as an experiment in consolidating several services and standardizing fees for seven Kenton County jurisdictions now provides numerous services for 17 jurisdictions funded by public and private dollars.

This growth in services provided, jurisdictions served, and the passage of 12 years prompted a wholesale review of the program and the manner in which it is funded. Dubbed “OSS 2.0,” the resulting changes represent the first program overhaul since the program began. OSS allows jurisdictions to provide services to their residents utilizing PDS as their professional staff. These changes become effective July 1, 2017.

These services include building and electric permits and inspections, zoning reviews and permits, enforcement of several property and nuisance codes, and staff support for code enforcement board and boards of adjustment.

Under OSS 2.0, service options for local jurisdictions have been revamped to provide greater flexibility by allowing each jurisdiction to choose the specific service options that meet its needs. Services were bundled into service packages previously that did not always provide a perfect fit. To provide those services under the new program, jurisdictions will be billed a percentage of PDS’ actual costs to provide the service. The percentages vary from zero to 55% depending on the specific type of service.

Beginning July 1, each jurisdiction will pay the same percentage rate for the same specific service. For example, each jurisdiction may receive zoning permits for 0% of PDS’ cost or code enforcement utilizing the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board for 40% of PDS’ costs. Under the previous program, jurisdictions were billed a percentage rate based on the selected service bundle, which meant jurisdictions may pay a different rate for the same service.

“One of the primary goals with these program changes was to get jurisdictions contributing more fairly toward the program,” says Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Director of Planning and Zoning. “This program does that.”

Another key goal with these changes was to keep program costs and revenue from billing to jurisdictions constant for the program overall. Estimated billing under the new program, as based on this year’s billing, would be within 0.5% of billing under the current program.

“This really is a revenue neutral change,” says Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Some jurisdictions that currently pay little or nothing toward the program will begin contributing a small amount. Some jurisdictions that currently contribute heavily will pay less.”

PDS is offering several new services under OSS 2.0 to meet the changing needs of local jurisdictions. For communities that would like to pursue code violations more aggressively, PDS will begin offering that option. PDS will provide a code enforcement officer to drive the community and pursue various violation on an active basis, such as tall grass and weeds, garbage accumulation or improperly parked boats and campers.

Jurisdictions will designate the amount of time to be spent on these activities and the specific types of violations—if any—to be pursued. In addition, PDS will also offer help with rental property inspections associated with rental license programs as well as verification inspections for jurisdiction that have abandoned property tax programs.

To learn more about One Stop Shop, visit the PDS website or contact Emi Randall or Rob Himes, Codes Administrator.

 


Page 3 of 33First   Previous   1  2  [3]  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  Next   Last