Infrastructure Engineering

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Scheduling begins for final review and vote on new subdivision regulations

Posted on February 02, 2015
A document seven years in the making is about to be scheduled for public comment. The Subdivision Regulations Committee of the Kenton County Planning Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. on February 3 to discuss the final draft document and vote on whether to send it forward to the full planning commission. Action to schedule it for public hearing could come as soon as the commission’s February 5 meeting.

The document may be found here. The meeting will take place in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

“It’s taken a while but in the end we’ve got a good product”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, PDS’ director of infrastructure engineering. “This is the first time the subdivision regulations have been updated comprehensively since they were adopted in the 1970s.”

PDS staff began rewriting the regulations in 2008 following a call by the Kenton County Mayors’ Group to update the document’s street construction standards. Mayors and public works officials claimed that subdivision streets were failing prematurely and cited the county’s subdivision regulations as the reason.

The first working draft of the document was released for public review in late 2010. Since that time staff and Planning Commission chair Paul Darpel have worked with various groups to develop consensus on the document’s contents. The commission’s subdivision regulations committee approved that draft a year ago excluding the street design standards and earthwork requirements.

Darpel invited a group of pavement and geotechnical engineers representing developers and the Mayors’ Group to work on those issues and present a recommendation to staff and the committee. After many months of work, that group presented the standards now included in the document. Members assert that streets built to these new standards will last a minimum of 20 years with proper maintenance.

“I recognize the work that the engineers put into providing us their street and earthwork recommendations,” said Darpel. “They did some great work and were able to find common ground on a contentious issue which provides us the last piece of the puzzle to get this project completed.”

“Our hope is that the subdivision regulations committee approves the draft with no changes,” said Hiles. “If that’s the case, the document will then be sent to the full commission for consideration and scheduling the final public hearing.”

Residential street construction increases since end of the recession

Posted on December 01, 2014
Subdivision development and new street construction during 2014 showed an increase over 2013 and a dramatic increase when compared to levels of activity only a few years ago. What’s more, even with a colder than normal fall the activity is expected to continue late into the year.

“There’s always the risk that street construction will slow down or stop when temperatures drop sooner than expected. But as long as they remain above freezing we know of at least two developments that are working toward adding more street before the end of the year,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of PDS’ infrastructure engineering department.

Subdivisions in unincorporated Kenton County and the cities of Erlanger, Covington, and Independence all saw new street construction in 2014. The majority of streets were located in the City of Independence.  

“We haven’t seen this level of street construction since well before the recession,” said Hiles. “In looking back through our records, the amount of new street that was constructed this year quadrupled the amount we saw constructed just four years ago, and we’re not finished yet.”

Staff is also seeing signs that the upward trend in subdivision development will likely continue. In 2014 over 200 new lots were proposed and approved along new streets. In a few cases, construction was started this year on those new subdivisions but in no cases were any of these developments completed.

“Because we had more lots and street approved this year than was completed, we’re confident that this will carry over to next year and mean a busy 2015,” said Hiles.

One reason in particular to recognize the increase in street construction is its relation to the new subdivision regulations that are currently being written.

“A primary focus of the new regulations is better, longer lasting streets,” said Hiles. “It’s important to get these new regulations adopted so that all of the benefits to the community that they’ll bring can be incorporated into these new subdivisions.”

Hiles said that staff is continuing to work with a committee of engineers to reach consensus on a final recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“Everyone is in agreement with most of the important issues. We’re working to finalize the last of the outstanding items and tie up some loose ends at this point. We understand the importance of getting the process finished but more important is making sure the regulations are enforceable in the way staff needs them to be.”

Hiles said that he is confident that the new regulations will be finished and adopted by the planning commission before the beginning of the 2015 development season.

Progress for Tuscany Condominiums

Posted on August 08, 2014
Work is underway on the last sections of the Tuscany Condominiums in Covington. Major slope stabilizations and re-routing sewer lines will continue through the summer. When this phase is completed an additional three condominium buildings will be ready to build. Currently, from work done in previous phases, two buildings are in various stages of construction.

View the preliminary plan

Project-tracking program now accepts credit card payments

Posted on April 28, 2014
Customers interacting with NKAPC staff now have the option of paying all fees with credit cards. This expanded use of plastic payment comes as an added benefit of the agency’s project-tracking program named TRAKiT.

NKAPC implemented the new software last July which better tracks and coordinates the activities of the agency; this includes: building and zoning permits; building, zoning, and infrastructure inspections; zoning and property maintenance code enforcement actions; subdivision platting and related infrastructure construction plans; and, planning and other large-scale projects.

These activities were tracked previously with a variety of software products, some of which carried growing annual costs, were incompatible, and required additional equipment to be maintained off-site.

TRAKiT allows for all these activities to be integrated on a GIS base, allowing NKAPC staff and outside agencies to communicate better with one another on related activities. It also facilitates all agencies involved with Kenton County development to be more knowledgeable and productive in their responsibilities. And most importantly, the system allows staff to get needed information quicker, reducing times for plan review and increasing customer service satisfaction.

“TRAKiT is working great,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “It’s giving us the ability to track development information more efficiently than we’ve ever been able to before.”

While NKAPC has been the long-time managing partner of a robust geographic information system (LINK-GIS), there has always been a disconnect between that system and those that track permits, projects, and code enforcement.

TRAKiT sets atop LINK-GIS data, allowing information from different activities to be coordinated by address. This makes the GIS data all the more valuable to Kenton County communities and makes development and code enforcement data more accessible, both to staff and to the public.

TRAKiT also allows all the agency’s field inspectors to use iPads in the field to keep track of inspection activities and report results in real time. This permits inspectors to streamline their efforts, reduce time needed to input data, and ultimately to save the agency and the taxpayers money.

The software package includes a public web portal which allows contractors and citizens to access information regarding development and code enforcement activities. While the original One Stop Shop website previously included access to information, this new portal expands the agency’s online capabilities, making it possible to apply for certain permits, pay for them using a credit card, schedule inspections, report a problem, and review inspector’s field reports all directly from that website.

“TRAKiT is facilitating the coordination of all our responsibilities,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “This added expansion of our ability to accept credit card payments is an added bonus for our customers.”

“With trends towards digitizing plans and documents, as well as streamlining processes, this new technology may eventually lead to a completely paperless mode of business,” Gordon concluded.

Villa Hills readies for new development

Posted on April 11, 2014
The first new subdivision in Villa Hills in a decade was approved for construction in April 2012. Named Stillbrooke, the subdivision encompasses nine acres along the east side of Collins Road, approximately 1,700 feet north of Buttermilk Pike. Residents could be moving into their new homes there before Christmas.

The development includes 26 single-family lots and three small areas set aside for park space. Click here to view this preliminary plat.

Construction of the proposed infrastructure continued relatively steadily after subdivision approval throughout 2012 and 2013 and included just over 1,000 feet of new public street and associated public utilities such as water main, fire hydrants, and sanitary and storm sewers.

A unique feature of this subdivision involves sidewalks. In conjunction with support from the city, the developer proposed providing sidewalk along just one side of the new street. Normally sidewalk is required along both sides of all new streets. In exchange the proposal included the commitment to fill in a gap in the sidewalk network along Collins Road.

Subdivision regulations already required new sidewalk to be provided along the portion of the subdivision that fronted Collins Road, which totaled about 500 feet. But from that point, heading toward Buttermilk Pike, there was a gap in the sidewalk network for another 500 feet.

“It was important to the city that this gap in the sidewalk get completed”, said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “So with the city’s support, the developer obtained a waiver from the Kenton County Planning Commission that allowed him to put sidewalks on one side of the new internal street in exchange for filling this sidewalk gap”.

When this gap is filled, residents will be able walk to nearby amenities such as the community park at the corner of Collins Road and Buttermilk Pike, and shopping and restaurant accommodations as well. Discussion with the developer has recently resolved that this sidewalk gap will be constructed sometime this year.

The recordable plat that will create the 26 lots is pending approval from staff. This approval is required before lots can be transferred to new owners. A few outstanding items have yet to be completed but it appears that the plat will be able to be approved soon. Staff understands that once that approval occurs, builders will be ready to obtain the necessary permits to break ground and begin construction.

Draft subdivision regulations online for public review

Posted on February 26, 2014
The long process of developing new subdivision regulations for Kenton County is one step closer to completion as of last week. A draft containing roughly 75 percent of the new provisions is online now for public review and comment.

Click this link to find the “Draft- 2014 Kenton County Subdivision Regulations” on NKAPC.org.

This draft is being made available for review prior to a resolution of final street design and construction issues, according to Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. It is to give all parties as much time as possible to review the text that has been finalized.

“The Kenton County Planning Commission is waiting on written specifications from a committee of local engineers that’s been working on street design and construction issues,” said Hiles. “Once those specifications have been completed and the planning commission’s committee has had a chance to review them, we’ll be able to finish the final 25 percent of the draft and set a date for the required public hearing.”

Hiles suggests the date for that public hearing will be late June or July.

Hiles tells prospective reviewers they can expect to see highlights and minor formatting issues in the online draft which will differ in the final version. Provisions relating to street design and construction standards are highlighted to inform readers that the selected text will probably change between now and the public hearing when the final draft is put before the community and planning commission.

That final version of the completed text will be uploaded to NKAPC’s website for review and comments prior to the late June/July public hearing.

If during your review you should you have any questions or comments about the current draft, please contact staff at 859.331.8980.

New Year starts off with application for 129-lot plat

Posted on February 04, 2014
The Kenton County Planning Commission approved a 129-lot addition to Williams Woods subdivision in Independence earlier this month. This marks the first time that the City of Independence has seen a new residential development or subdivision addition of this magnitude in several years.

Williams Woods lies along Bristow Road approximately 2,000 feet east of Banklick Road, directly across from Battleridge subdivision. When the original plat of Williams Woods was approved, the site was located in unincorporated Kenton County. That subdivision plat consisted of 178 single-family lots.

The newly-approved plat will bring the development’s total to 307 lots. It will also contain approximately 5,000 feet of new public streets that will be maintained by the City of Independence.

“The number of new residential lots we’ve approved in Independence over the last four years doesn’t equal the addition to Williams Woods that we just approved,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “Looking earlier than 2009 there was a mix of single and multi-family development in Independence that totaled 90 residences, but you’d have to go back to 2004 to see the really significant numbers that were off the charts. Literally, several hundred new lots were approved in that year.”

Hiles added that given the number of other new or established developments that were either just beginning construction or continuing established developments at the end of 2013, this addition to Williams Woods adds one more reason to be optimistic about continuing the steady residential growth the community began to see trending about a year ago.

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