Direction 2030

"Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice" is a community planning initiative centered on public input to develop the new Kenton County comprehensive plan. NO Image:

Direction 2030 seeks input from university population

Posted on April 11, 2014
In response to a growing concern with the exodus of well-educated people from the region, and the lack of participation in past public meetings, NKAPC planners focused a recent online survey on university populations to gauge their preferences in the character of the community in which they live. It also sought preferences on the importance of amenities available to them in the surrounding area.

Those who participated were students and educators attending Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College, and Gateway Community and Technical College.

The results are intended to offer a snapshot of the way young people in Northern Kentucky view our area and how they assess its benefits and shortcomings as a place to live, work, and raise their families. One-hundred one people took the survey, including 47 men and 54 women.

A slight majority of participants (54) reports that they are planning to stay in Northern Kentucky, while 16 plan on moving away, stating reasons such as not enough amenities in the area or not enough employment opportunities. Thirty-one survey participants report that they are uncertain as to their future plans for leaving or remaining in the area.

The majority of participants (54) report that they prefer living in an urban setting; 29 prefer the suburbs; and 14 report that they prefer living in a rural environment.

Participants were asked to rank a series of amenities in categories of importance. Participant responses indicate that these individuals feel very strongly about the amenities listed in the survey.

Category                 Important            Unimportant
Earning potential            83%                     10%
After-hour options          88%                      7%
Green living                    68%                     17%
Walkability                      75%                     14%
Mass transit                   59%                     19%
Outdoor rec facilities     74%                     13%

Unfortunately, Northern Kentucky did not fare well in the respondents’ assessments of the area’s provision of these amenities.

Category                 Favorable             Unfavorable
Earning potential              52%                    38%
After-hour options            54%                    45%
Green living                      23%                    65%
Walkability                        24%                    71%
Mass transit                     30%                    54%
Outdoor rec facilities       47%                    44%

Results of this survey support the conclusion that young adults desire amenities such as after-hour options, walkability, and outdoor recreation facilities. To ensure that Northern Kentucky is a desirable place to live and attracts people to the area, planners, civic leaders, and government officials need to give more attention to the amenities that appeal to the vibrant, young, and highly educated people we want to attract to and retain in this area.

The information obtained through this survey will be incorporated into Direction 2030 along with other public input gleaned throughout the planning process.

Piner tornado brings people together, prompts survey

Posted on February 04, 2014
By the time a tornado struck Piner in March 2012, devastating the community and structures to the east of it, a small group of area citizens had met several times to try to bring their neighbors together. The immediate needs prompted by the Class 5 storm solidified that group’s goals and provided fuel to move it forward.

Talk of bringing neighbors and friends together was replaced quickly by actions that were more effective in helping southern Kenton County residents see the value of working together. While pursuing relief efforts, group members also sought to bring structure to residents who value individualism and privacy. The strategy worked.

As the storm’s devastation transitioned to a memory, local discussions moved on to Direction 2030, a coordinated effort by the Kenton County Planning Commission to engage as many Kenton County residents in the crafting of a new comprehensive plan for the community.

Residents got together and discussed past planning efforts and current needs. In order to get a comprehensive understanding of the area’s needs, the group decided to pursue a survey of their friends and neighbors across the southern part of the county. With the support of Kenton County Fiscal Court, NKAPC, and the Kenton County Agriculture Extension office, group members mailed approximately 3100 surveys to all households on January 10.

Three-hundred fifty responses were needed for the survey to be considered statistically significant; the community came together and returned more than a 1000 surveys.

The survey document was developed by Dr. Lori Garkovich with University of Kentucky who has extensive experience dealing with rural issues in other parts of Kentucky. Garkovich helped with a planning effort in 1996 for this part of Kenton County and has a good understanding of the community. After the survey was developed, it was shared with a group of residents for initial feedback to ensure the questions were clear and understood.

The survey includes demographic questions that will provide general information on the respondents such as how long they have lived in southern Kenton county and their reasons for moving to that part of the community.

During the preliminary planning process one of the main themes raised by residents was the need to preserve the rural heritage of the area. In order to capture the varied perceptions of rural heritage, additional questions regarding what defines rural heritage were also included in the survey so as to provide a variety of options including farms, large homes, small stores, large office buildings and retail. Also included are questions regarding respondents’ satisfaction with existing roadways, Internet access, employment centers, access to retail and residential development.

“The survey is a way for public and elected officials to understand better who we are and what our needs are,” said Bill Schneider, a resident of Cruise Creek Road in southern Kenton County. “The individual leadership that has come forth to design the survey is inspiring. We are thrilled with the huge response that shows how hungry our citizens are to be heard.”

The survey response period was closed on January 31, 2014. Staff is compiling the data that will be sent to Garkovich for analysis. Results will be available in mid-late March.

Focus groups and public meetings are being planned to seek additional input. “This is a very community- driven planning process for an area of the county that has a very strong sense of community,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager at NKAPC. “We are providing a service and helping the process by facilitating and bringing in resources as necessary.”

The results of the survey and information gathered from focus groups and public meetings will be used to develop policy for the southern portion of Kenton County as part of the Direction 2030 planning effort. The comprehensive plan for 40 years has promoted growth and development north of this area while encouraging the protection of the agriculture and rural nature of Southern Kenton County.

This effort will help determine if the policy is still valid or if changes need to be made to represent community desire.

All jurisdictions approve comp plan goals; staff begins text work

Posted on October 14, 2013
Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions have come together for the first time in 41 years to adopt a unified and updated statement of goals and objectives for the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan. The previous statement of goals was adopted as part of the county’s first formal comprehensive plan. That 1972 plan has been updated numerous times over the past four decades; its goals statement has not.

One of the biggest challenges to rewriting the goals and objectives involved bringing all 20 jurisdictions together and building consensus on a common vision. Significant public engagement was pursued for over a year and a half; this included over 100 meetings with varied populations and jurisdictions to develop the new statements.

The goals and objectives that are now in place reflect the varied viewpoints of Kenton County residents and provide a foundation for the preparation of the rest of the comprehensive plan.

“When we began the process, our main goal was to listen to anyone who had an idea regarding where this county should be in 20 years,” said Paul Darpel, chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. “The value in this planning effort lies in bringing all of those ideas and different viewpoints together to develop something that we can all agree on.”

“NKAPC staff did a great job of keeping the Commission, elected officials, and residents updated and involved. Kenton County Planning Commission members gave many hours of their time to this effort. We’re proud of the product we put forward. Approval by the 20 jurisdictions reflects all the hard work that has gone behind this effort. ”

The adopted statement of goals and objectives will provide direction in preparing recommendations for various elements of the comprehensive that include land use, transportation, and community facilities.

Planning staff has been researching existing conditions and looking at population projections and trends for several months in preparation for the next phase of the project. This included data collection from various resources within local, regional and national organizations.

This research along with the goals and objectives will be used to produce recommendations that KCPC members will consider towards the end of the year- long process. Coordination with local jurisdictions, opportunities for public comment via an online portal, and several other tools have been planned to seek input through the rest of the process.

“Seeking public input is very challenging in today’s world,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “Securing it requires our professional staff to think creatively and go where people are rather than expecting them to come to us. We accomplished that during this first phase and are committed to that goal as we craft the plan’s recommendations.”

A task force will oversee preparation of the plan’s recommendations over the next six to eight months.  They will then be presented to the Kenton County Planning Commission for consideration and ultimately adoption.

More information about Direction 2030 is available on the project’s website and Facebook.


County Planning Commission OK’s new goals statement

Posted on August 15, 2013
The Kenton County Planning Commission unanimously approved a new statement of goals and objectives on July 9. Action on this all-important policy statement shifts now to Kenton County’s 20 local jurisdictions. Each has 90 days to take action on the recommended language. If a jurisdiction fails to act by October 7—the 90th day—the jurisdiction will be deemed as having approved it.

“This process has been an excellent example of our community coming together to find common ground on some of today’s most diverse issues,” said Paul Darpel, chair of the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC). “We hope the Planning Commission’s action paves the way for Kenton County’s first totally new comprehensive plan in over 40 years.”

The development of these goals and objectives involved extensive public input and coordination over an 18 month period. One of the most discussed topics toward the end of that timeline was that of private property rights, the single issue that dominated the June 6 public hearing before the Kenton County Planning Commission. Following over three hours of testimony that evening, the KCPC directed staff to work with those who felt that the protection of property rights hadn’t been made strong enough.

NKAPC staff invited representatives from Kenton County’s 20 local jurisdictions to a June 26 meeting to discuss two specific concerns as directed by KCPC. Several cities’ representatives had been very vocal on property rights protection during the June 6 public hearing. Nine cities attended the meeting.

Discussion during this forum dealt with two issues: the guiding principle on property rights; and, an objective stating that unnecessary and burdensome regulations should be removed to promote job creation, attraction, and retention. After much discussion, those in attendance were able to agree on the language that was presented to and approved by the KCPC on July 9th.

“Approval of this statement of goals and objectives was a huge accomplishment,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “Members of the planning commission and staff have every reason to feel extremely proud. With over 80 public meetings and numerous other public engagements behind them, these individuals brought a diverse community together to discuss—and ultimately agree on—a number of critical issues facing Kenton County.”

Adoption of the statement of goals and objectives paves the way for crafting a totally new comprehensive plan for Kenton County. The plan will build on the statement of goals and objectives by providing more detailed recommendations on land use, transportation, and community facilities’ issues. It will also include data collected by staff through research and analysis on local population, housing, economics, community facilities, health, agriculture, transportation, and the environment as required by state statutes.

Crafting the new comprehensive plan is anticipated to take six to nine months and will include even more opportunities for public involvement.

Direction 2030 interviews on Local 12

Posted on May 31, 2013

On Sunday, June 2 at 11 AM, Commissioner Diane Brown and NKAPC Planning Manager will be on WKRC Local 12 Newsmakers with Dan Hurley. They will talk about Direction 2030, its goals and objectives, and specifically the Kenton County Planning Commission public hearing on June 6.
If you miss it, previously aired interviews are usually posted here: www.local12.com/content/newsmakers/default.aspx


Planning Commission schedules vote on plan’s goals

Posted on May 14, 2013
Following a public input process that began in March 2012, the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) is ready to move forward on a proposed statement of goals and objectives. That proposed statement will be heard during a scheduled public hearing to be held on June 6 at 6:15 PM. As required by state law, this statement will anchor Direction 2030, Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan.

After review and recommendation by the KCPC, the statement of goals and objectives will be forwarded to each of Kenton County’s 20 legislative bodies for their consideration and action. The legislative bodies will have 90 days to take action on the KCPC proposal. This phase is anticipated to be completed in September 2013.

A preliminary draft of the statement of goals and objectives was presented at two public meetings held last October. Staff received over 180 comments on the draft which was then reviewed by the Direction 2030 task force. The task force’s responses to all of the comments as well as the final draft are posted on the project website.

This public input fostered creation of four guiding principles that will assist decision makers in using the goals and objectives effectively. Each covers a broad topic that was raised during the public engagement process.

One of these topics covers the protection of property rights. Research on other comprehensive plans locally, regionally, and nationally indicates that several communities have addressed private property rights in their comprehensive plans. The Direction 2030 task force discussed this topic and subsequently directed staff to work with concerned cities to draft language for their consideration. As a result, property rights have been added as a guiding principle.

The draft statement includes nine goals which will serve as the basis for completion of the required elements of the comprehensive plan:
  • encouraging a variety of housing options for all generations and incomes;
  • creating and maintaining places that draw talent;
  • retaining, attracting, and creating jobs;
  • celebrating the unique identity of our communities;
  • promoting a healthy lifestyle;
  • enhancing the transportation system;
  • providing access to natural systems;
  • balancing development and preservation; and
  • encouraging cooperative governance.
“This has been an important step in the process and we are very pleased with the level of participation from our legislative bodies and the community,” said Paul Darpel, Chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. “The draft as it stands accomplishes the task of representing the community’s voice and hopefully our cities will see it that way as well.”

More work being pursued on Direction 2030 goals

Posted on March 14, 2013
Staff fanned out across Kenton County in January and February to present the final draft statement of goals and objectives to the community’s 20 local elected bodies. While most of those groups provided positive feedback, four cities asked staff to work with their economic development/zoning committees for a more in-depth review.

These responses indicated a strong desire for the statement of goals and objectives to address property rights. As a result, staff presented draft language on property rights to the Direction 2030 task force in February. That updated version of the statement now includes property rights language in the guiding principles which apply to all goals and objectives.

“We’re glad that cities and local organizations are providing feedback prior to submittal of the finished product to the county planning commission. This gives us a chance to address issues on the front end, before it becomes cumbersome to address them from a countywide perspective.  All 20 of our jurisdictions must adopt goals and objectives,” said Paul Darpel, Kenton County Planning Commission chairman.

In the meantime, the Direction 2030 task force has worked to address the 182 comments received to date on the draft. Several changes have been made based on those comments, and a response to each will be posted on the project website when the review is complete.  A research report is also being compiled, as required by state statute, which specifies that elements of the comprehensive plan be based on research, analysis, and projections. This report is being compiled by collaborating with multiple agencies across Northern Kentucky to access the best data available.

“After all concerns with the statement of goals and objectives are addressed, we’ll submit an application to the Kenton County Planning Commission.  We hope to do that in April for a public hearing and action in May,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC planning manager.

Kenton County’s 20 legislative bodies will have 90 days to take action on the planning commission’s recommendation. Adoption of the statement of goals and objectives and completion of the research report will pave the way for preparation of the individual required comprehensive plan elements. This second phase will include recommendations for land use, transportation, community facilities, and natural resources. It will also provide further guidance on how to achieve the adopted goals and objectives.

The second phase is anticipated to be completed by December 2013.

Task force ready with statement of goals, objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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


Direction 2030 goals and objectives now in final draft form

Posted on December 08, 2012
In November, the third and final round of public meetings regarding the draft statement of goals and objectives yielded over 180 comments from the general public, local officials and organizations. Approximately 40 residents stopped by during the course of two public meetings and discussed their thoughts and concerns regarding the draft.

This statement of goals and objectives is intended as a guide to develop policies and implementation measures in the comprehensive plan. Those currently in place were adopted in 1972 during the preparation of the first Kenton County Comprehensive Plan.

The proposed statement is based on three guiding principles; public participation, economy, and relationship between goals. These are applicable to all the goals and objectives and are expected to be used in moving forward. The proposed goals focus on seven different topics including; healthy communities, economy, health, mobility, natural systems, community identity and governance. Each of these categories includes several objectives that will be used in preparing the remaining elements of the comprehensive plan.

Immediately following the last round of public meetings in November, the Direction 2030 Task Force met to discuss the submitted comments. The task force will address all public comments and post its responses on the project’s website. The draft will then be presented to each of the required legislative bodies as an additional review opportunity prior to submitting an official application for adoption.

In accordance with state statutes, an application will be submitted to the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) for review. The KCPC will offer recommendations to the legislative bodies, which will have 90 days to review the proposed statement of goals and objectives and take action.

“Our process has been open and transparent to date. We have held meetings in multiple locations throughout the county to make it easy for people to attend. We have met with anyone or any organization that has had concerns. We hope that our cities have been following this process closely and offer their support,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager.


Market data for Direction 2030 may have additional uses

Posted on December 08, 2012
Staff took steps in a new direction when it contracted a market analyst for technical assistance with Kenton County’s first totally-new comprehensive plan since 1972. Based on initial responses to the nature and quality of the data, staff is looking into an ongoing program to marry this type of data with LINK-GIS mapping capabilities for use by local communities, businesses, and economic development officials.

“Our initial reason for engaging the market analyst was relevance,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “The free market is one of the most important factors determining whether a comprehensive plan is viable and likely to be implemented. The Great Recession and the ‘new normal’ it’s created makes it all the more critical that we have our finger on the pulse of the local market.

“What we got from our analyst met our initial goal. It also gave us an idea that if we could keep the data updated and available, we could assist a number of interests that work in support of Kenton County’s economic future.”

According to the program strategy being developed by staff, data developed recently by Dinn Focused Marketing would be kept up to date regularly and made available to local interests along with mapping that would make the data all the more relevant. The result, according to the draft strategy, would be more jobs and more business for the local economy.

Gordon says the idea for a “data clearinghouse” came to staff following a meeting with local homebuilders. They acknowledged that the nature and quality of the data are what they typically use when determining where to locate their next residential projects and the price range on which they should focus.

“Our development community takes huge amounts of risk on their own behalf. That means they need data to make the most accurate prediction of what the market is telling them,” said Brian Miller, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Northern Kentucky. “If this data is maintained and regularly updated, we foresee the ability to heat map any demographic and economic changes in areas within the County in order to facilitate a dialogue for a number of reasons.”

Miller continued, “Zone changes, comprehensive plans, and subdivision regulations are relevant by supportive data and adaptation to changes in the local market. Flexibility is key in a more responsive planning process and it is difficult to be flexible without data that bears your assumption out.”

A recent meeting with a Covington task force looking into redeveloping neighborhoods within that city’s urban core validated the idea further, according to Gordon. “Seeing economic indicators on a neighbor-by-neighborhood basis showed these folks where they needed to focus their efforts.”

When asked when such a program might be up and running, Gordon responded that the strategy would be put on the table during upcoming discussions about NKAPC’s budget for fiscal year 2014 (that begins in July 2013). He said that while the funding necessary to make the strategy work would be minimal, he hoped to be able to raise funds outside the agency budget to help with its costs.

“These data could help private sector businesses and, as such, would make public-private partnerships totally appropriate as a funding source to keep the program going,” he concluded.


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