Kenton County Planning Commission

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New subdivision regulations scheduled for public hearing and final vote

Posted on March 02, 2015
March 10 is finally the date. After years of work, scores of meetings, and more debates aimed at consensus than can be recalled by participants, Kenton County’s totally new subdivision regulations are set for a public hearing. Members of the Kenton County Planning Commission will listen to final comments on March 10 beginning at 6:15 p.m.

The draft document is available for public review online.

Since 2010 staff has worked with a committee of planning commission members and various groups such as the Kenton County Mayors’ Group, Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky, and a committee of pavement engineers to complete a comprehensive rewrite of the Kenton County Subdivision Regulations. The resulting draft represents the first time the document has been updated comprehensively since it was written in 1978.

Staff’s goals for the update were to produce a document that is efficient to use, provided design flexibility, coordinated better with other governmental agencies, and—most importantly—provided greater taxpayer protection through better street designs.

“We’re confident we accomplished our goals, particularly as they relate to requiring subdivision streets that last longer,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, PDS’ director of infrastructure engineering. “When subdivision streets fail and need repair, it’s the taxpayers who foot the bill to fix them.”

“We hope the Commission votes to approve the new regulations—as written with no changes,” said Hiles. “That will put the contents into effect immediately.”

If changes made during the March 10 public hearing, it’s likely the effective date of the regulations will be delayed until April 1st. Either way, staff is looking forward to closing this chapter in the process and beginning the business of enforcing the new regulations, according to Hiles.

UC planning students begin study work on land uses in KY 536 corridor

Posted on February 02, 2015

A $4,000 grant from the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation will cover costs associated with an upcoming study of land uses in Kenton County’s KY 536 corridor. Work will be pursued by planning students from a University of Cincinnati studio class in the department of art, architecture, and planning.

The project entitled “Vision Plan for KY 536 Environs” is scheduled to last the entire spring semester (16 weeks) with formal class times twice a week. The final four weeks of the studio will include numerous presentations to the public and to Kenton County planning and legislative bodies.

The class’s report will be used by PDS and the Kenton County Planning Commission as the foundation for future land use and planning studies of the corridor.

“The focus of this studio is on planning and design practices at the regional scale,” said Dr. Vikas Mehta, Associate Professor with the School of Planning and faculty for the studio course. “Its main goal is to expose students to the complexity of working with multiple jurisdictions, regional spatial patterns, land use activities at regional scale, and its impacts on regional resources.”

During the semester, students will explore a number of planning issues that are critical in understanding the cultural, natural, economic, and political structure of the corridor. As an important part of the studio, students will analyze social and physical factors such as the stakeholders’ needs and interests, the natural ecology, urban growth, land use and transportation, public space, and associated patterns in the region. Learning from their analyses, the students are expected to develop a vision for the corridor. Given the significance of current discourse, this studio will emphasize the promotion of planning and design principles, policies and actions that enhance the physical conditions of the region and improve the human experience in it.

The studio will be organized into a five-step structure:

SENSING: information and data collection; mapping - people, places, phenomena;
ANALYZING: organizing, structuring and synthesizing information and data;
THEORIZING: values, goals, objectives, visions;
MAKING: processes, products; and
COMMUNICATING: writing, speaking, graphics.

“The five steps provide a basic structure for the studio. Although these are listed in a sequence, the steps do not suggest a linear process,” states Dr. Mehta.


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.”

Direction 2030 plan adopted 19-0; effort begins to implement it

Posted on November 06, 2014

After 40 years of amendments to its 1972 edition, Kenton County has a brand new comprehensive plan. The Kenton County Planning Commission unanimously approved the new plan titled Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice on September 4. The new plan was created after seven public meetings and over 110 small group meetings over a period of two years.

Direction 2030
is based on a new statement of goals and objectives and is the first web-based plan in the metro region. Adoption of the plan not only paves the way for newer considerations to be taken into account during the development process, it also encourages greater community conversation within each of the plan’s four designated subareas - urban, first-ring, suburban, and rural.

Direction 2030 includes recommendations that take into consideration the demographic shifts that are happening, the comments we heard from residents, and the processes we need to look at with a fresh perspective,” said Martin Scribner, AICP, Director of Planning and Zoning at PDS. “Now that the plan is adopted, we’re gearing up to focus our efforts on implementation.”

Two primary projects under consideration include implementation by subarea and evaluating zoning changes needed to bring regulations into compliance with the new comprehensive plan.

The subarea process was built into Direction 2030 based on the recognition that each area of the county has unique needs. The focus in the urban area will be to strengthen the vitality of the urban core through historic preservation, infill development on vacant and underutilized properties, and to build upon the strong sense of neighborhood and community.

The goal in the rural area will be to preserve and enhance the viability of the rural heritage, to encourage the preservation of the rural character, and to remove barriers to support local agricultural operations.

“Our subarea processes will be action-oriented within each of the four areas. This effort will allow us to work with residents, cities, and other partners to prioritize the recommendations made in Direction 2030 and focus on implementation.” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, Planning Manager at PDS.

Direction 2030
also revamped several land use related policies based on community needs. Implementation of these policies will require a re-evaluation of Kenton County’s many zoning ordinances. Land use categories such as mixed use were introduced for the first time in the comprehensive plan to promote the mixture of uses and recognize the flexibility needed to react to market conditions. Each of the 20 cities within Kenton County has their own zoning code which will need to be evaluated for compliance with Direction 2030.

Both projects – subarea implementation and zoning code evaluation, are slated to begin next month.


Kenton County comprehensive plan has been approved

Posted on September 08, 2014

The Kenton County Planning Commission last week did what none of its predecessors had done since 1972. It adopted a totally new comprehensive plan complete with a new statement of goals and objectives. Called Direction 2030: Your Voice Your Choice, the plan can be accessed here.

In addition to being totally new in content, Direction 2030 is being presented in a totally new format. 

"It is not a printed document," said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS). PDS is staff to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

"It’s an interactive, web-based site. Everything you want to know about the process, the goals and objectives established early on in the process and then the structure built on top of those goals, it's all there. It's a pretty robust site."

The website also includes interactive land use maps which let the user find answers to questions on a site-specific level. 

Gordon said printed copies of a comprehensive plan could cost as high as $200 each. Instead, the technology-based version will be accessible to citizens and potential developers looking to familiarize themselves with the county's planning goals and objectives.


Direction 2030 text is complete; community public hearing next

Posted on August 15, 2014

The three-year effort to develop a new comprehensive plan for Kenton County--Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice--is complete. The recommendations and associated tasks has been finalized and reviewed by the task force; work on the web-based plan is being wrapped up and preparation of necessary documentation is underway for presentation to the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC). That hearing will take place on the evening of September 4th.

State statutes require a public hearing be held prior to action and adoption of the comprehensive plan to allow one last review and public comment.

“This comprehensive plan boasts a brand new set of goals and objectives, after functioning under the same ones for 40 years,” said Paul Darpel, KCPC chairman. “The new plan provides a roadmap and a list of planning priorities for Kenton County. But the most important aspect of this three-year process is that it provided everyone multiple opportunities to participate; and engaged community leaders, residents and elected officials in capacities like never before. We are also excited about the final product that has been produced which is completely web-based – one that may be the first of its kind in the region.”

Comprehensive planning is required to be carried out every five years in Kentucky. A comprehensive plan must be in place to enact zoning and subdivision regulations.

“We take this process very seriously and invest time into it not so much because it is required by state statute. We undertake this because it gives us a chance to interact with the people we serve – the residents of Kenton County. There are so many thoughts and opinions about the future of Kenton County in terms of planning needs; this was a great way to bring it all together,” concluded Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director.

More information about the project can be found at the Direction 2030 website.


Planners prepare Direction 2030 plan for final public hearing

Posted on May 23, 2014
Nearly two years in the making and over 150 public meetings later, Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is in the final stages of completion. Draft policies and recommendations are being finalized, task force comments are being discussed, outreach to legislative bodies is being undertaken, and a web-based plan is in the works.

One final public input session is also currently being discussed prior to submitting an application to the Kenton County Planning Commission for consideration in September.

Draft policies and recommendations cover eight topic areas: economy, housing, mobility, land use, environment, community facilities, utility management, and regional and subarea plans. This is the first major update since the comprehensive plan was first crafted and adopted in 1972. Several major policy changes are being considered based on changing demographics and market conditions.

The recommended land use map will include new categories of mixed use and a more generalized definition of commercial to allow for market conditions to direct land usage. Jobs were indicated as the highest priority for those that provided input throughout the process. Industrial land use policies while always aiming to seek more land for economic development also strives to bring attention to the need for infrastructure in areas reserved for these uses.

In addition, the need to provide community amenities and a wider mix of housing types to attract a talented workforce is discussed.

“This plan represents the varied viewpoints of everyone in this community,” said Paul Darpel, Chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. “We heard everything from the need to attract jobs, provide for good housing, protection of property rights, accommodating multi-modal options, consideration of public health, and the environment throughout this process. We have tried to capture everything and present it as a vision for Kenton County.”

The draft policies also recognize the county’s four distinct subareas for the first time and the different needs of these areas. The four subareas include urban, first ring suburbs, suburban, and rural, each contributing differently to the regional and local economy.

The plan recognizes the need to focus urban development north of Walton Nicholson Pike while preserving the heritage to the south by promoting rural development and preservation policies. Increased collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries and the need for regional thinking is also addressed.

“The recommended policies also take into account other planning efforts underway such as OKI’s strategic regional planning effort, the Kenton County transportation plan, and the South Kenton planning effort in addition to the needs and vision that local jurisdictions have for their communities. This planning process brings it all together to represent one voice for Kenton County,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, NKAPC’s planning manager.

Draft policies will be presented to the public in late summer and then to the Kenton County Planning Commission in early fall. More information about the project can be found at the Direction 2030 website.


Recent KCPC departures take 30 years along

Posted on February 26, 2014
The terms of two long-term members of the Kenton County Planning Commission ended recently. The departures of Commissioners Barbara Carlin of Ryland Heights and Jim Cook of unincorporated Kenton County took with them 30 years of experience serving their community on the planning commission.

By action of the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly, the City of Ryland Heights moved from sixth to fifth class status. This move provided the central Kenton County community with a seat on the planning commission for the first time. It also necessitated Carlin’s departure since her seat was designated to represent the county’s sixth class communities as appointed by the Fiscal Court.

When the Ryland Heights City Commission filled its new seat on the planning commission, Carlin’s eligibility ended. She had served since 2000.

“Remember that you’re planning for the future and that you’re there for everybody, not just a few,” responded Carlin when asked if she had any advice she would like to pass along to her colleagues. “Your decisions have to make good sense and follow the guidelines set out the in comprehensive plan.”

Cook was first appointed to the Kenton County Planning Commission in 1998. By all accounts, his tenure on the county board was marked by a strong belief in and voice for southern Kenton County and the opinions held by those who live there.

Cook’s tenure ended in December when he completed his fourth term on the planning commission. Judge/Executive Steve Arlinghaus appointed Gailen Bridges to a four-year term replacing Cook.

“Remember that you represent the people, not the elected officials,” is how Cook responded when asked about thoughts he would like to pass along to the current planning commission members. “I served 16 years and wish I could continue to serve.”

Cook exhibited a good deal of pride in pointing out that he was first appointed by a Democratic judge/executive and reappointed by three Republican judges/executive to serve his neighbors in southern Kenton County.

Members of the planning commission gave each departing member a plaque and standing ovation during their last meeting as commission chairman Paul Darpel recounted their many contributions to the cause of planning in Kenton County.

“Barb and Jim were good commissioners and represented their constituents well,” said Darpel. “We obviously hate to lose good people with this much experience. We’ll miss them, both as colleagues and friends.”


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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