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.

 


Engineering staff scheduling seminar on street maintenance issues

Posted on April 04, 2017

PDS will be hosting an upcoming seminar on the importance of performing preventative and routine maintenance on streets as it relates to street longevity. The target audience for the seminar will be mayors and city administrators.

Staff has reached out to professionals at the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) in Lexington to lead the discussion. KTC is the research division for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and focuses on a wide range of transportation-related issues including pavement maintenance.

“A new set of subdivision regulations were recently adopted by the Kenton County Planning Commission,” said Scott Hiles, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “These regulations contained more stringent street standards. Now that new streets are starting to be constructed using these new standards there’s no doubt that cities are starting to get higher quality streets that have the potential to last longer. We want to help cities understand that regardless of the fact they are now getting higher quality streets, if routine and preventative maintenance isn’t provided these high quality streets will still fail prematurely.”

The seminar will touch on the specific types of pavement maintenance, but will primarily focus on the importance of factoring the need for preventative maintenance into annual budgets. One graph that is often used to illustrate the need for preventive maintenance is shown below.

"This graph clearly shows that dollars used for maintenance early in the life of a pavement when it’s still in good condition, grow exponentially to address the rehabilitation that will be needed if the maintenance isn’t done,” said Hiles. “Staff worked for several years to ensure that cities would get better street standards and ultimately, better streets. Now that it is happening, we just want to make sure cities understand the role that maintenance plays in keeping those pavements in good condition.”

The seminar will likely take place in May. Discussions about the event’s details are ongoing with KTC staff.


Developers give feedback on two-year-old subdivision regulations

Posted on April 04, 2017

The PDS Infrastructure Engineering department hosted a roundtable discussion with local subdivision contractors on March 7th. The purpose of the event was to identify any areas where improvements could be made to the new Kenton County Subdivision Regulations or to how they’re administered, and to share any ideas to help make the process more efficient.

“Since it had been two years since the new Kenton County Subdivision Regulations were adopted we thought now would be a good time to sit down with the contractors and discuss how they are adapting to them, or if they have suggested improvements,” said Scott Hiles, Director of Infrastructure Engineering.

In the two years since the adoption of the new regulations there have been eight subdivisions with construction improvements that were required to comply with the new regulations. “Within those eight subdivisions there has been more than 6,500 feet of street constructed that was required to comply with the new regulations,” said Hiles. “So we knew based on our activity level that both the staff and the contractors had experiences they would like to discuss.”

About 40 individuals attended the roundtable discussion. Most of the group were contractors, while PDS staff, KCPC members, developers and engineers also attended.

A wide range of issues were discussed at the meeting. The more serious issues focused on specification tolerances. Hiles explained, “Many of the specifications in the new regulations are ‘absolute’. This means the results have no ability to vary slightly above or below the specification. Some of the contractors asked that amendments be considered to add tolerances where there are currently none.”

KCPC Chair Paul Darpel stated that the meeting’s focus was to identify and discuss these issues, but that it would take future meetings with the Subdivision Regulations Committee of the Kenton County Planning Commission to discuss possible solutions.

“Although there are still some issues that will have to be addressed, the most positive outcome from the meeting was the general concurrence that the new regulations were producing quality streets. That was the goal from the beginning so by all accounts it seems the new regulations are hitting their mark,” said Hiles.


Benedictine Sisters move forward on implementing small area study

Posted on April 04, 2017

The Villa Hills Study, the comprehensive analysis of the last remaining developable land in the city, is now complete. Official adoption of the study incorporates its existing conditions research and recommendations as a part of the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan. This formal step sets the general direction for the area’s future and helps ease the way for any zone changes that might eventually be needed.

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, owners of approximately 85 acres of developable land in the study area, issued an open request for proposals (RFP) on March 6, 2017, to find a developer. “Our intent all along has been to stay on our built portion of the land and sell our unused western property to fund our retirement,” said Sister Mary Catherine Wenstrup, Prioress of the monastery. “The planning project was a great help for us to figure out what could happen on the western land and do something that would be a lasting asset for Villa Hills. We are looking forward to getting proposals that follow the plan’s recommendations and to meeting our future neighbors!”

The RFP is open through April 20, 2017. The Benedictine Sisters intend to choose a developer and move forward with the sale of the property soon after that date.

“The study sets the stage for a new kind of development in our area,” said Butch Callery, Mayor of Villa Hills. “We’re excited about the possibility of seeing mixed use here in the city and know that it will make our Villa Hills community even stronger. We hope the future owner is someone interested in building a community and not just another development,” he continued.

The Villa Hills Study was a year-long planning project that crafted recommendations for approximately 240-acres in northwest Villa Hills. The plan was unanimously approved by both the City of Villa Hills on January 18, 2017, and the Kenton County Planning Commission on March 2, 2017. If you are interested in the project or have questions, please contact Craig Bohman at (859) 341-1515 or cbohman@villahillsky.org.


Elsmere to join Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board

Posted on April 04, 2017

The Elsmere City Council voted unanimously during its March 14, 2017, meeting to become the 14th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, a local area alliance staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Lakeside Park, Ludlow, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Elsmere City Administrator Matt Dowling stated, “Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities; Elsmere is no different. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, Elsmere will benefit by getting these concerns filled.”

“If a property owner appeals his case we know the Joint Code Enforcement Board members will be trained and have legal representation present during all meetings to provide them with legal advice every month. Another benefit is our city staff will no longer have to administer the city’s Code Enforcement Board, allowing the staff to work on other job duties,” said Dowling.

The board, comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction, provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Code Enforcement Board meets on the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.



Latest NKYmapLAB product highlights Riverfront Commons project

Posted on April 04, 2017

The newest NKYmapLAB project is a collaborative effort between PDS, Southbank Partners and Strategic Advisors featuring the 11.5-mile long Riverfront Commons multi-use trail in Northern Kentucky. Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile uninterrupted walking, running, and biking trail that links Northern Kentucky’s six river cities – Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Fort Thomas – to the City of Cincinnati and other local trail systems. This trail is the signature project of Southbank Partners, a community and economic development organization that supports these river cities.

The newly released Story Map will provide several resource-rich interactive maps that allow users to see what portions of the trail have been completed, what is being built in 2017, and what is planned for the future. There are numerous images, links, points-of-interest, reports, and design documents available through this Story Map.

Portions of the trail system already have been completed in two cities. On Tuesday March 14th, the City of Covington Mayor and Board of Commissioners approved an order awarding the Riverfront Commons Project construction bid to Sunesis Construction.

Sunesis was awarded $1,280,480 to begin the construction of pieces of the Riverfront Commons project in Ludlow, Newport and Covington. Construction is expected to start as early as May and will be completed this year.

When finished, Riverfront Commons will seamlessly connect Northern Kentucky’s six river cities with the City of Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge, the pedestrian-only bridge spanning the Ohio River.

The trail also will connect with other local trails systems, such as Licking River Greenway and Devou Park Backcountry Trails in Covington, Tower Park Trails in Fort Thomas, and the Ohio River Bike Trail which will ultimately connect with the Little Miami Scenic Trail running through five southwestern Ohio counties.

“We have worked carefully with Southbank Partners and Strategic Advisors to release this project during the part of the year that is most timely. We intentionally aimed for an end of March release date, which falls between awarding the construction bids, and the start of the on-ground trail improvements,” said Louis Hill, Geospatial Data Analyst with PDS.


For additional information about the Story Map contact Louis Hill, AICP, GISP. NKYmapLAB is available online, and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB. Questions about the Riverfront Commons trail, estimated completions dates, Manhattan Harbour, future trail locations, and project financing should be directed to Southbank Partners.



Staff rolls out database of subdivision lots available, developed

Posted on April 04, 2017
Want to know more about lot availability of subdivisions in Kenton County? Through the collaborative efforts of PDS staff, new subdivision data has been created and is now available on the new LINK-GIS Development Analyst map viewer.

Two members of the GIS team, Joe Busemeyer, GISP and Steve Lilly, PLS, GISP, CPII; have utilized the power of GIS Model Builder to extract “vacant” and “developed” parcel information in the active subdivisions of Kenton County.

The project began as a discussion regarding information that is commonly requested at PDS. What subdivisions have lots available? How many parcels are available and how many have been developed in said subdivision? Is the subdivision single or multi-family? From there Busemeyer began looking at the GIS data layers that already exist. Using the Model Builder technology in the ESRI GIS software, he was able to create a series of models that intersect existing GIS data layers, run calculations, extract new information and generate a series of new GIS database layers to answer these questions. During this process Busemeyer realized that some of the GIS data needed some updates and upgrades.

Lilly, who maintains many of the GIS layers involving development in Kenton County, utilized his expertise of this information for this project. He performed extensive quality control on the Preliminary Plat layer, which represents active and non-active subdivisions in the county and is one of the key GIS layers used in the models Busemeyer developed.

After many rounds of testing and tweaking the data and models, they were able to create the GIS layers needed to answer the subdivision questions.

Busemeyer then created the new Development Analyst map viewer, added the new subdivision GIS data, and configured pop-ups for the new GIS layers. Now when users click on a subdivision in the map viewer, they will see a window showing information pertaining to that subdivision. Adding these dynamic layers allow users to interact with the data, such as turning the layers on and off and clicking on the features for more information.

In addition to the map viewer, Lilly developed a user-friendly spreadsheet that could be exported onto the website. The document displays commonly requested key pieces of information. Developments are organized by their city and display the acreage, total lots planned, and total lots built. Each development name is also hyperlinked and will open to its location on the over-all development plan.

Through the collaboration of PDS staff members and innovative use of GIS technology, subdivision information is readily available in just a few clicks of the mouse.

To try out this new function, visit linkgis.org and start exploring today!


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