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!


PDS Council elects new officers, fills seats on management board

Posted on March 07, 2017
The PDS Council—the governing body for Planning and Development Services of Kenton County—met for its annual organizational meeting two weeks ago. Representatives of most Kenton County governments were present. Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman was re-elected the council’s president for 2017; Lakeside Park Mayor Dave Jansing was re-elected vice president, and Elsmere Mayor Marty Lenhof was re-elected secretary. All terms run through January next year.

In another election, council members elected three individuals to serve two-year terms on the PDS Management Board. Elected were former Covington Mayor Sherry Carran, County Commissioner Beth Sewell, and Fort Wright Councilman Bernie Wessels.

Carran and Sewell serve on the Board currently. Wessels will replace board member and former Taylor Mill Mayor Mark Kreimborg who chose not to run for re-election.

Four other individuals serve on the Management Board, having been elected in 2016 to two-year terms. They are former Fort Wright Mayor Tom Litzler, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, Independence City Administrator Chris Moriconi, and Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone.

As directed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the PDS Council provides a forum in which Kenton County planning issues can be debated and consensus achieved. With a membership of elected officials only, the Council is also responsible for final review of the organization’s annual budget and the tax rate that funds it.

True to its name, the seven-member Management Board oversees the professional staff, sets policy to achieve the Council’s direction, and provides oversight for the daily operations of the organization.

Others included on the ballot for seats on the Management Board were former Covington Commissioner Chuck Eilerman, former Park Hills Councilman Monty O’Hara, and former Fort Wright Councilman Don Martin.

Engineering staff schedules round table for feedback on regulations

Posted on March 07, 2017
PDS’s Infrastructure Engineering department has scheduled a round table discussion with local subdivision contractors at 9:00 a.m. on March 7th at the PDS office.

The purpose of this event will be to identify any areas where improvements can be made to the new Kenton County Subdivision Regulations or as to how they’re administered, and to share any ideas that would help make the process more efficient.

“It’s been almost two years since the new Kenton County Subdivision Regulations were adopted,” said Scott Hiles, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “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.”

Hiles said in the past two years there have been seven subdivisions constructed using the new regulations. “When the new regulations were adopted two years ago the planning commission granted a grace period for subdivisions approved prior to adoption of the new regulations.”

This extra time allowed contractors to keep using the old regulations, but only until December 31, 2016.  “Now that this grace period is expired and all contractors are required to start using the new regulations, we thought that was another reason that it was good time for this discussion to occur.”

As it relates to the subdivision contractors, the new subdivision regulations affect how they provide earthwork construction, ditch construction, geotechnical testing requirements, pavement drainage, curb and gutter and the pavement cross slopes and pavement materials themselves.

“Particularly for street construction, there are a lot of changes between the old and new regulations,” said Hiles. “Not all of the new regulations represent major changes, but the contractors still have a lot of different responsibilities than they did before. I expect we’ll have a lot of issues to discuss.”

Hiles said he’s already received RSVP’s from most of the contractors that were invited and is expecting a good turnout. 

GIS, Planning directors speak to national audience on collaboration

Posted on March 07, 2017
The PDS planning and GIS teams were recognized recently at a national conference in California for their smart planning practices. Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Planning Director and Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS were asked to present on new approaches to planning and geodesign, that utilizes the power of spatial planning, web apps and maps.

The Geodesign Summit is an annual gathering of professionals seeking to use geospatial technologies by planning to arrive at the best design solutions.

Randall and Brush showcased recent projects in their presentation on which their teams have worked together over the last several years; including Direction 2030, site readiness and NKYmapLAB. The presentation featured PDS and LINK-GIS efforts in using collaborative analysis to inform local decision makers and ignite discussions on important issues. These initiatives were enriched by harnessing the power of dynamic maps and other multimedia content to tell a story.

“I believe our presentation was well received by the audience of over 200 attendees. Showing how Kenton County is bringing planning and GIS together to impact the community is powerful,” states Randall.

Brush appreciated the opportunity to share NKYmapLAB projects such as Plan4Health and Walkability with the attendees; excellent examples that demonstrate the planning and geodesign aspects of PDS.

By using multimedia technology and collaborative efforts PDS is leading data driven discussions among elected officials and citizens to tell Kenton County’s story.

What story could your community tell by using planning and GIS together to design a shared best solution?

Villa Hills Council adopts study 6-0, sends plan to planning commission

Posted on March 07, 2017
Another step toward the completion of the Villa Hills Study was achieved on January 18, 2017 when the Villa Hills City Council unanimously voted, six to zero, to adopt the plan. The City of Villa Hills, the Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Kentucky, Inc. and PDS have been working for more than a year on the study and it is now nearing its completion.

The Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) will now consider adopting the plan as an updated part of the Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice comprehensive plan at their March 2, 2017 meeting. This project is the first small area study undertaken since the adoption of the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan in September 2014.

The task force that guided the study met on January 11, 2017 and approved the plan, which was then presented to the Villa Hills City Council for their consideration.

“It has been a unique and rewarding experience participating with the task force and I am pleased that everyone’s hard work resulted in a unanimous decision by council,” said Craig Bohman, City Administrator/Clerk for Villa Hills.
 
Two weeks prior to the Villa Hills Council meeting, a second public meeting/open house was held at River Ridge Elementary School, which displayed the results from the study. This provided the attendees an opportunity to see an overview of the final plan and give their thoughts on the document. Around 150 people attended the meeting and valuable feedback was obtained from the participants. The first public meeting held in May 2016 attracted nearly 250 participants.

“Turnout at both meetings was outstanding,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager at PDS and the Project Manager for the study. “The Villa Hills community definitely is interested in the project and what the future holds for the site.”

The comments and information gathered were used to help guide the decisions of the task force as they finalized the plan. The Villa Hills Study is currently in the approval phases of the project and should be completed in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in learning more about the project and/or getting updates about its progress, visit the city’s website or contact Craig Bohman at 859.331.1515.


Building permit totals for 2016 harken back to pre-recession time

Posted on February 02, 2017
Construction activity across most of Kenton County was on the rise in 2016. In fact, it was the busiest year in the last decade for PDS inspectors. A review of permit and inspection numbers tells the story.

A total of 2,959 permits were issued last year and 5,263 inspections were performed by PDS’ certified building inspectors. This number includes building permits issued for new structures, additions, renovations, HVAC upgrades, sprinklers, fire alarms, etc.

Prior to the recession, the largest number of permits issued by PDS in a single year was 2,105 with 6,017 inspections performed during 2007. Permit numbers hit their lowest point in 2010 when only 1,463 permits were issued and 3,978 inspections were performed.

“Staff has been very busy this year keeping up with the additional work while trying to maintain a relatively short turnaround time on permits,” said Brian Sims, CBO, PDS’ chief building official.

Permit numbers are projected to increase during 2017 according to several analysts. The National Association of Home Builders cited that builder confidence is on the rise. Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped seven points to a level of 70 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. This is the highest reading since July 2005.

“We hope activity does pick up for 2017 and that the market continues to grow for the construction industry. We want to see new homes built and businesses grow here in Kenton County,” said Sims. “It will be challenge to find ways to keep up with the workload, but a worthy challenge to have.”

New subdivision regulations phase in closes; rules apply to all now

Posted on February 02, 2017
Kenton County’s new subdivision regulations adopted in March 2015 changed the way infrastructure is built in the county. Not all developers had to use the new standards right away. A phase-in period was included in the document’s text adopted by the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC).

“Planning commission members were concerned about subdivisions that had been approved already but not yet built when they adopted the new regulations,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, PDS’ director of infrastructure engineering. “For those developments, changing the rules that governed them mid-stream didn’t seem fair.”

The KCPC allowed a “grace period” for these subdivisions, according to Hiles. Those developments were allowed to continue using the old regulations.

“There was a lot of discussion whether or not those previously-approved developments should be allowed to continue using the old regulations indefinitely until the subdivision was complete, or if there should be a pre-determined deadline. Ultimately, the commission decided to impose a deadline.”

Commission members decided ultimately that previously-approved developments could continue using the old regulations until the end of 2016. That way, those subdivision developers had two full construction seasons to finish the required infrastructure.

Hiles said there were a total of 17 previously approved subdivisions that took advantage of the ability to continue using the old regulations. Eight of those subdivisions were located in Independence, and the others existed in unincorporated Kenton County, Erlanger, Walton, Taylor Mill and Covington.

“Developers of ten of the 17 subdivisions to which this grace period applied didn’t complete construction before the December 31st deadline,” said Hiles. “Two are in unincorporated Kenton County, six in Independence, one in Covington, and one is in Walton”.

Developers of these subdivisions will now be required to submit new improvement plans that contain upgraded infrastructure according to the new subdivision regulations. They will also be required to construct to the new standards.

“These ten developments will have a mix of old and new infrastructure,” Hiles concluded. “But at least we know that from this point forward, only the new infrastructure is permitted.”

Kenton County’s new subdivision regulations may be found online.

NKYmapLAB completes second year, shows number of successes

Posted on February 02, 2017
The Northern Kentucky Map Lab (NKYmapLAB) initiative completed its’ second year last month, having produced 23 high-quality poster map displays and online Story Maps. It has also increased the community’s—and the world beyond—awareness of the rich data that have been created within LINK-GIS and the analytical opportunities it has created. And, it’s won several awards.

Story Maps are online multi-media applications that allow users to interact with maps, images, videos, embedded websites, and other documents (think PDFs).

“From the beginning, NKYmapLAB’s goal was to highlight the analytical value of what’s been created within this GIS system,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of PDS. “Thirty years of diligent work has gone into this system. That effort has fostered tremendous capabilities to further the goals of this community. To the extent that those capabilities aren’t utilized, that work has been rendered meaningless.”

“NKYmapLAB takes the system’s data, applies them to a current issue of interest, and illustrates the results in formats that can foster community discussion. These past two years’ successes prove the value and capabilities built into this GIS.”

NKYmapLAB projects help local leaders and citizens better understand issues affecting Kenton County, while highlighting the analytic capabilities of LINK-GIS. Some of the topics covered in recent analyses include the following.

- Trails
- Landslides
- 2012 Piner Tornado
- Morning View Heritage Area
- Farmer’s Markets of NKY
- Accela/ROW Management
- Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood
- Beyond the Curb – Ludlow tour
- Turkeyfoot Road – Thomas More Parkway Realignment
- Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK)

The NKYmapLAB team consists primarily of two GIS professionals, Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst, and Ryan Kent, GISP, Principal Geospatial Analyst. The two and other PDS staff as needed have chosen topics each month that would prove useful to the public and its elected officials.

No two projects are alike. Successful projects, however, create demand for similar products. In December 2015 NKYmapLAB had just completed analytical products regarding a Buttermilk-Orphanage intersection realignment project for the City of Fort Mitchell. Armed with the Story Map and poster from this project, city officials were able to bring back $250,000 in much-needed design funds from the General Assembly for this project. This very successful result caught the attention of other jurisdictions prompting the Turkeyfoot Road NKYmapLAB project in November 2016.

Hill and Kent have been proud to share their work with GIS users from around the nation, having been selected for several recent presentation opportunities.

- A presentation at the 2016 ESRI International Users Conference in San Diego.
- A presentation at the 2016 Kentucky GIS Conference in Covington.
- A live technical webinar, produced and hosted by the American Planning Association, showing attendees how to build their own Story Map.

The NKYmapLAB initiative was recognized with a first place finish in the Map Gallery at the 2016 Kentucky GIS Conference. NKYmapLAB submitted and displayed ten of their analytical products at the 2016 ESRI International Users Conference. Several of those are now under consideration for publication in Vol. 32 of the upcoming ESRI Map Book.

The American Planning Association (APA) featured NKYmapLAB’s Story Map of Covington’s Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood during its October celebration of National Community Planning month. APA had selected the neighborhood several years ago as one of its “Great Neighborhoods” in America.

“Being able to share some of the exciting things going on in this community and communicating the resulting analyses to people is what has made NKYmapLAB so successful,” stated Kent.

Hill added that “the third year of NKYmapLAB is underway and we’re exploring new partnerships and new project opportunities. We feel confident that we’ll be able to continue delivering useful data and analyses that can contribute to the data-driven discussions we’re promoting within the community.”

Email Louis Hill or Ryan Kent or call them at 859.331.8980 with questions or suggestions. NKYmapLAB is available online and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.

LINK-GIS represents two collaborative partnerships. The first includes Kenton County Fiscal Court, Sanitation District #1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and PDS. The second includes Campbell County fiscal Court, the Campbell County Property Valuation Administrator, Sanitation District #1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and PDS.


Kenton County PLAN4Health initiative continues to provide benefits

Posted on February 02, 2017
One year after PDS and its partners received a grant to highlight and improve access to healthy food, progress can be measured. Hope can be expressed as well that the initiative helped raise the bar.

“From the start, the Kenton County team hit the ground running with a clear strategy for assessing the environment and taking a comprehensive look at the food system,” said Anna Ricklin, AICP, Manager of the Planning and Community Health Center for the American Planning Association (APA). “Their work and its results serve as excellent examples of what can happen when staff from public health and planning agencies come together with a united goal to support community needs.”

The Kenton County PLAN4Health program was established by a $135,000 grant from APA via its partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program was a collaborative effort that included professional staff from the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, Inc., the American Planning Association-Kentucky Chapter, the Northern Kentucky Health Department, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), and PDS.

Collaborative efforts to promote healthy eating and behaviors as well as to improve food access throughout the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati Region continue following the end of the PLAN4Health initiative that concluded in May 2016. Early in the program, PDS staff and the other grant partners recognized the need to continue collaboration with other organizations. Their intent was to partner on initiatives and implementation projects in the region long after the end of the PLAN4Health program.

Since the program concluded last year, the grant partners intensified their involvement with work on the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. This group examines food policy from many different perspectives. Its broad mission is to define a set of collective decisions made by governments, businesses, and organizations that affect how food gets from the farm to tristate tables. The Council promotes a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system for all within Greater Cincinnati’s ten-county region.

The grant partners are also involved with LiveWell NKY, an organization that focuses on community based implantation programs geared towards healthy lifestyles. The core focus of the group begins with healthy behaviors, which are enabled by healthy policies and environments. Their ultimate goal is making the healthy choice the easy choice everywhere we live, work, learn, play, and worship. The stated objective of LiveWell NKY is “to ignite an uprising within the community to build a movement toward a culture of health.”

The Kenton County PLAN4Health project was a yearlong planning effort to increase access to nutritious food across the county. The program worked to achieve this goal through several efforts including building a better link between urban markets and rural food producers, focusing on corner stores in urban communities, a targeted awareness campaign, and even hosting a marketing campaign as well as healthy foods summit near the end of the program.

More information about the initiative may be found online.
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