Increased number of permits available on walk in/take the permit with you basis

Posted on January 25, 2012
Staff in NKAPC’s current planning and building codes departments have increased substantially the number of zoning and building permits available on a walk in/walk out basis. This achieves a long-held goal of the organization’s annual work program.

“What this means is that a permit that used to take a couple days to process, can be completed now while you wait… if there are no extenuating circumstances,” said Martin Scribner, AICP, NKAPC’s deputy director for current planning. His team manages zoning permits.

Brian Sims, CBO, NKAPC’s deputy director for building codes administration, says, “If a licensed contractor comes in for an HVAC replacement or new installation permit, we review the application for minimum code requirements and issue the permit if everything meets code.”

Sims says electrical permits are also available on a walk-in/walk-out basis as long as all necessary information is submitted at the time of application. This includes workers compensation and occupational license information.

The primary catalyst for this increased efficiency is greater staff coordination and a staffing change that moved Mike Carpenter from the building codes department to current planning. Carpenter is both a certified zoning and building inspector, which means he can review a variety of applications.

“Now, if you’re building something that doesn’t require a building permit—like building a fence under six feet, or making some electrical upgrades, or putting in an above-ground pool or patio, or making a change of use (ownership)—we can process that on a walk-in, walk-out basis,” said Scribner. “Mike’s two hats and our greater coordination between departments have really helped us speed up the process.”

Independence citizen taskforce sends update to council

Posted on January 25, 2012

A steering committee of citizens appointed in late 2009 by Independence City Council has completed its work and sent its findings and recommendations back to council for consideration and action. The results from that review by the city’s elected officials will be sent to the Kenton County Planning Commission for consideration before being amended into the city’s zoning ordinance.

The catalyst for this citizen effort was the 2007 adoption of the Independence Community Small Area Study by City Council and the Kenton County Planning Commission. The planning commission’s action incorporated the study’s contents into the Kenton County comprehensive plan.

“The Independence Community Small Area Study included land use recommendations that did not conform to our existing zoning code,” said Rodney Crice, citizen member of the steering committee. “Those who were charged with implementing the study recommended that city council conduct a zoning update process to create zoning more compatible with the recommendations of the study.”

The appointed steering committee met almost monthly for a year and a half 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 steering committee wrapped up its work last month and is now in the process of presenting its recommendations to the Independence City Council. Those recommendations include the following three new zoning districts and the formation of a design review board.

*  DI/Downtown Independence zone
*  CD-SF/Conservation Development Single-Family overlay zone
*  GMU/Gateway Mixed Use zone

Crice states, “Our committee worked diligently to reach consensus on these recommendations. Our process was open and included two public forum opportunities for community input. The public input definitely influenced our final recommendations and I think helped create a better end product.”

Crice concludes that he is pleased with the final recommendations. “If council approves the new zoning codes, we will have achieved a primary goal for implementing and realizing the small area study recommendations.”

More information on this project including the draft regulations, additional information, and public comments are available on

Market place analyst to assist with comprehensive plan

Posted on January 25, 2012

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice, the Kenton County Planning Commission’s effort to create a new countywide comprehensive plan is gaining momentum following completion of four first-round public meetings. Analysis of the public input and comparisons with national trends are now underway by staff with the assistance of a market place analyst.

“We’re committed to recommending policy in this plan that’s rooted in market reality,” said Keith Logsdon, AICP, NKAPC’s deputy director for long-range planning. “In order to do that and take the public’s desires into consideration, we’ve contracted with Michael Dinn, CRE, of Dinn Focused Marketing Inc. in Wilder.”

Dinn has over two decades of experience in residential and community development and has worked extensively with developers in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. He has also been a part of development projects all over the country, according to Logsdon.

Dinn has established himself as an expert in housing and community development with an emphasis on market performance, product positioning, and alignment. He was recognized in 2003 with an invitation and certification into the prestigious Counselors of Real Estate®. CRE is the widely-recognized organization of the finest real property advisors with only 1,100 members worldwide.

According to NKAPC’s executive director Dennis Gordon, FAICP, the Great Recession has made it more important than ever to analyze market conditions while crafting long-range comprehensive plans. Housing statistics such as foreclosures and vacancies, data on commercial real estate, and generational preferences are key factors in attracting growth and development. Gordon says that Dinn will assist in evaluating and understanding the dynamics of the local market and ensuring that the new comprehensive plan makes Kenton County economically competitive, affordable, and attractive.

National trends on generational preferences indicate that different generations desire different job types and housing. Those trends show that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), for example, are trending toward smaller lots, smaller homes, and less maintenance. This generation represents approximately 25 percent of Kenton County’s current population. This begs the obvious question of whether Kenton County’s housing market can provide the product that this generation desires.

Dinn’s market place assessment will provide planners an opportunity to understand the current housing market—including the products available—and to include in the comprehensive plan an indication of what products and amenities may be needed to retain and attract different generations to Kenton County.

“The last full housing cycle took 20 years, with the last ten seeing a wave of housing change, said Dinn. “The next 20 years will see a different, shifting marketplace. It’s critical now to measure our local market depth and chart its changing direction.”

“We’ll employ the best local datasets and collaborative professionals to trend our marketplace, striving to face forward and bring genuine forecasting to the Direction 2030 plan,” he said. “We believe our changing marketplace will demand a greater choice in neighborhoods and a better connection to their lifestyle and experiences. Without choice, many motivated householders will choose with their feet by relocating out of Northern Kentucky.”

Second-round public meetings for Direction 2030 will begin in March. Stay up to date on the progress of the comprehensive planning effort on NKAPC’s website, the Direction 2030 website, or Facebook.

New GIS tool provides status of snowy roads

Posted on January 25, 2012

Though the weather outside is frightful, LINK-GIS users in Kenton County will soon have a tool that is so delightful! With the click of the mouse, they will be able to find the work status of snow and ice removal crews for roads they travel during a snow event.

Chris Warneford, Kenton County’s public works director, approached NKAPC staff last year about developing a website that would provide near-real-time status of snow crews on county-maintained roads. Warneford requested a website that would be easy to use while providing citizens with valuable information about street conditions.

“Kenton County citizens’ safety is our number one priority. Whether going to work, the grocery, or taking their children to school, they need to be able to plan their road trips safely,” Warneford says.

The County’s public works team will be able to update the status of roads as plow and truck operators complete sections that have been treated. The street status will be classified as plowed, treated, plowed and treated, and no activity. “It was important to the public works team that we could update the road status from anywhere in the field without having to go into the office.” said Warneford.

NKAPC staff created a data entry form that public works personnel can access from any computer with internet access. It not only records the status, but has a time stamp feature so citizens viewing the map know when the road was last treated. This feature is important especially during a snow event that may span several days. When fully operational, the website will be available to commuters on area roads through a mobile data client.

The website is currently being tested by Fiscal Court personnel and will be rolled out soon to the public. In addition to county-maintained roads, city streets that are maintained by the County under contract will be added to the website. The City of Crestview Hills has already been added to the snow tracker website. Other Kenton County cities will be added in the future.

Independence seeks citizen feedback regarding zoning

Posted on November 17, 2011

The City of Independence is asking its citizens to examine proposed zoning changes for part of the city at a meeting scheduled for November 14 from 7 to 9 PM at the Simon Kenton High School cafeteria.

“The steering committee and the city council want feedback on these proposed new requirements," said Martin Scribner, AICP, deputy director for current planning. "This meeting will be an open house format, so people can come for 15 minutes or stay for the whole two hours,” Committee members and NKAPC staff will be on hand to answer questions.

A committee of Independence business operators and residents developed the requirements as a response to a small area study that was adopted by the city in 2007. Independence resident John Richardson chaired the Zoning Update Steering Committee. Independence City Administrator Dan Groth said the 2007 small area study led to recommended changes to zoning regulations in 2009.

“An important part of this process is to solicit input from residents and property owners prior to changes being made in the city’s zoning code,” Groth and Richards wrote in a letter to property owners within the study area.

The affected area includes both sides of Madison Pike from Independence Station Road south to Locust Lane, and along both sides of McCullum Pike from Madison Pike to KY 17. Maps will be available the evening of the public meeting.

To review the draft regulations, visit the NKAPC website.

NKAPC expenditures for GIS pay off in a big way

Posted on November 17, 2011

NKAPC GIS staff worked hard to assist government entities in Kenton County in obtaining $1.7 million in grants and return on investments (ROI) during fiscal year 2011 (July 2010 through June 2011). This amounts to an almost three-fold return on investment when considering what it costs to fund NKAPC’s GIS department.

“Over the past few months, staff has answered numerous questions from elected officials about the cost and value of GIS,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, deputy director for GIS administration. “We were able to show how GIS data used by agencies throughout the region returned $2.9 million in grants, awards, and cost savings to local communities. Well over half of that amount was awarded to Kenton County jurisdictions.”

These monetary and non-monetary benefits include data quality projects, emergency communications money, a landslide project due to heavy spring rains that resulted in a FEMA grant for Kenton County, savings from a pavement coordination program, and a brownfields grant.

The Kentucky Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) Emergency Telecommunications Board distributes funds collected from mobile phone usage to member agencies, said Ms. Brush, and county emergency dispatch units must submit a survey and GIS data, including centerlines from the LINK-GIS master street address guide, zip codes included in dispatch areas, and cell tower locations when submitting grant applications. Covington obtained $164,750 from CMRS; Kenton County $177,998 in CMRS funds; and Erlanger, $247,672 for those same services. GIS data is a required submittal in order for the local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to receive CMRS funding. These data submittals are an annual occurrence for all three dispatch centers.

GIS data was leveraged as an in-kind support which aided in the Covington City Center Action Plan proposal. The city was awarded $359,300 in grant monies to examine how the Covington city center will evolve over the next 20 years, Ms. Brush said. Covington’s center is generally described as the area south of the Ohio River to 12th Street, east to the Licking River and west to I-75.

Another $18,000 was attributed to Envista program savings for the city of Covington; Envista’s GIS-based pavement coordination software facilitated the savings for the city and Northern Kentucky Water District, Ms. Brush said.

The availability and existing Kenton County brownfield GIS database assisted the Northern Kentucky Area Development District to obtain a $100,000 for brownfield redevelopment. The funds are to be used in Kenton County focusing on the Licking River Greenway and will lead to more detailed identification of areas once used for industrial purposes that can be reused for a variety of purposes once cleaned up, Ms. Brush said.

So far this fiscal year, GIS maps were and data were required in gaining a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Roads/Clean-Up Grant: $251,042 to Kenton County; $93,633 to Covington; $10,548 to Crescent Springs; and $1,000 to Bromley.

“We have every reason to believe that this fiscal year will produce an equal return on investment to Kenton County,” concluded Brush.

GIS staff earns awards at conference

Posted on November 17, 2011

NKAPC staff earned two awards at the 2011 annual conference of the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP). One award was for website design and one was for service to the mapping community.

Christy Powell, GISP, senior GIS specialist, won the annual award for best GIS website application.

“Christy exhibited the special search capabilities for individual properties that she programmed into the My Community section of the LINK-GIS website,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, deputy director for GIS administration.

“The search method shows city, political and planning and zoning information,” said Brush. “The website work Christy did will aid all Kenton County residents.

The service award went to NKAPC and LINK-GIS for service to GIS and the mapping community. It honors the organization’s long and distinguished service to Kenton County, to northern Kentucky, and to GIS issues throughout the commonwealth.

Powell, Brush, and others from LINK-GIS participated in the conference held in Frankfort in September.

LINK-GIS is a collaborative electronic mapping partnership managed by NKAPC for Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, the Kenton and Campbell County PVAs, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and Sanitation District 1.

‘Direction 2030’ public forums begin

Posted on November 17, 2011
‘Direction 2030’ public forums begin

Kenton County’s comprehensive plan is being rewritten completely for the first time since 1972. The project, expected to take up to two years to complete, is designed to provide guidance for the county’s growth over the next 20 years.

"Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice" is a community planning initiative centered on public input – citizen ideas and citizen opinions. It will help create the new Kenton County comprehensive plan reflecting existing and anticipated trends in population, transportation, business, and education.

Kenton County citizens are urged to attend the ongoing series of public forums that will facilitate these discussions. Citizens are also encouraged to stay abreast of ongoing Direction 2030 progress by checking the project website:

“Since the county’s first comprehensive plan was completed in 1972, only updates have been made,” said Keith Logsdon, AICP, deputy director for long-range planning. “Over the past twenty years or so, new trends have developed in how people want to live and travel, how they want to spend their leisure time and make economic choices, and those trends make it important to take a new look at our community.”

Members of the Kenton County Planning Commission and NKAPC staff held the first of these public forums on October 26 at Dixie Heights High School. Approximately 60 citizens from across Kenton County attended and discussed how or if they believe these trends are having an impact on their lives.

The second of these initial meetings is set for November 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the Kenton County Agricultural Extension Office. The third meeting will take place on November 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Calvary Baptist Church in Latonia; and, the fourth is set for December 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Piner Elementary School. The topic for these forums will be the same as for the first, giving citizens from across Kenton County an opportunity to express themselves.

The second round of four meetings will be held in January through March, 2012. The third round is projected from April through June; and, the fourth and final round in July and August. Each round will look at opinions and ideas expressed during earlier sessions and distill them to the point where public goals and objectives emerge.

“Strong public engagement will make the plan well-founded and prepare our community for the challenges of the next 20 years,” Logsdon said.

For a full description of each of the four rounds of meetings, check out the Direction 2030 website.

As for what the outcome of this process will be, Logsdon says, “I don’t know if that question can be answered yet because we are just beginning the public engagement process. Our current challenge is to encourage and attain sufficient public input.”

Independence Public Meeting

Posted on October 27, 2011
On November 14, from 7-9 PM, the City of Independence is holding an open house to gather public input regarding changes to the Independence Zoning Ordinance.

In 2007, the Independence Community Small Area Study was approved by the city and adopted by the Kenton County Planning Commission as part of the Area-Wide Comprehensive Plan. Updating the zoning ordinance and map will support the city's effort to achieve the study's overall vision.

This meeting will be held in the Simon Kenton High School cafeteria, located at 11132 Madison Pike. Parking and school entrance is located near the gymnasium. Click here to review the draft regulations.

For more information about this event, contact Mr. Andy Videkovich at 859.331.8980 or View the printable flier.

Kenton Mayors’ Group nears recommendation to planning commission on new subdivision regs

Posted on October 19, 2011
Kenton County’s draft subdivision regulations that staff completed late last year is nearing its first test as the document is scheduled to appear on this month’s agenda of the Kenton County Mayors’ Group. A committee of that group has worked with staff and members of the Homebuilders Association since February.

Action by the Mayors’ Group will take the form of a recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission. The planning commission has spent the last several months reviewing the document and the changes it includes from regulations that have been in place since the late 1970s.

The new draft regulations, which are a complete rewrite of the current document, were prepared by staff to accomplish four specific goals.

•    Greater User Friendliness: (1) create regulations in a digital format, one that is easy to use via hotlinks that allow for better continuity and cross-referencing; (2) illustrate the regulations liberally.

•    Greater Design Flexibility for Developers: provide for greater design flexibility so developers can create subdivisions with character, not just cookie cutter images of their most recent design efforts.

“In addition to more design flexibility, we also provided for different green infrastructure techniques,” said Scott Hiles, NKAPC’s deputy director for infrastructure engineering, who oversaw the staff effort. “Our 1978 regulations didn’t anticipate the need for green solutions and didn’t authorize them.”

•    Greater Intergovernmental Coordination: assure that the new regulations mesh and compliment those of other agencies that play a role with new development.

•    Greater Taxpayer Protection: guarantee that all requirements provide for developments that stand the test of time so that city and county taxpayers aren’t required to pay to fix infrastructure problems prematurely.

To meet the taxpayer protection goal, staff’s draft regulations call for an increase in pavement thickness and the addition of under-drains for all new subdivision streets. Prematurely-failing streets was one of the main issues that prompted the Mayors’ Group to get involved in this rewriting process.

Based on discussions to date, staff expects the Mayors’ Group’s recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission to take the form of an endorsement with a number of proposals for added taxpayer protection. Hiles says planning commission members “are at a point now to hear the Mayor’s Group’s recommendation.”

It will be the Kenton County Planning Commission’s responsibility to sort through the myriad recommendations from different groups and to adopt a set of replacement regulations to serve the community in the future. That action is expected to take place in early 2012.
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