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NKAPC work prepares Covington for sidewalk repairs

Posted on April 11, 2014
Sidewalk reconstruction began last week in Latonia. The city’s contractor began replacing sidewalks with the lowest condition rating based on a citywide assessment of sidewalks that was conducted by NKAPC staff. The assessment prioritized sidewalks with significant tree root damage, cracking, and crumbling.

The Latonia portion of the project is estimated to be completed during early summer, pending weather conditions. The contractor’s contract also includes work on sidewalks in South Covington, where construction initially began in November. Due to weather delays after a particularly harsh winter, construction is expected to be completed in South Covington in May.

“We’re proud to have been a part of this effort in Covington,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “The pursuit of these data amounted to a win-win for both the city and NKAPC. The city got highly-accurate information and we were able to utilize infrastructure inspectors to pursue the work during their down time. Our GIS system made it all so simple.”

The focus on improving sidewalks is part of Covington’s five-year community investment plan which culminated from citizen requests. It is meant to facilitate the city's commitment to being a walkable community and improving property values.

The Community Investment Plan, which was adopted by the city commission in June of 2013, will invest more than $30 million in infrastructure improvements alone over the next five years. Covington's Community Services Division kicked off its $2.4 million sidewalk replacement project in southern Covington in November of 2013. The project is just one of the $72 million Community Investment Plan projects planned over the next five years.

Social media initiative aims for an informed citizenry

Posted on February 26, 2014
Keeping citizens informed and encouraging public dialog is always a challenge, however technology is playing a growing role in addressing those issues. Since late last year, NKAPC has expanded its online communications and initiated a new social medial strategy.

From the seemingly endless list of social websites, NKAPC is utilizing five familiar avenues now—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. “This isn’t a permanent list, necessarily,” said public information coordinator Pete Berard. “As the popularity, target audiences, and usefulness of these services change over time, so will our use of them.”

These online connections were established to invite discussions regarding local topics and relay information to the public in a more effective way, according to Berard. The posts will include topics such as upcoming meetings, interactive maps, current events, and opinions about new plans for the community.

Berard suggests these outreach efforts will also enhance the functionality of the organization’s website. NKAPC.org already houses thousands of important and useful documents, plans, reports, and forms. It also includes webpages for newsletter registration, discussion forums, and information requests. Adding social media will highlight the website and encourage its use as an informative resource.

Check out these links and stay connected.

Inspectors implement new building code requirements

Posted on February 26, 2014
January not only brought on a new year, it also brought the commonwealth new building code regulations. NKAPC building inspectors are administering those new building regulations now as required by law.

Kentucky moved from the 2006 model of the International Building Code to the 2012 model code. This code remains a mini/maxi code, meaning no local jurisdiction can enforce a code more or less restrictive than the model code. And for the first time since its printing of the 2002 Kentucky codes, Kentucky printed its own code with the help of the Code Administrators Association of Kentucky (CAAK), which can be purchased online.

“This is great a thing for all code users in Kentucky,” said Tim Tholemeier, one of NKAPC’s senior building officials. “No longer does one need to read the code and then go to Kentucky’s changes to see if a section has been modified.”

For a complete list of the current codes in Kentucky, click here.

One of the major changes in this new edition is that Kentucky included definitive language relevant to tents and permitting procedures for them. Tents not only need local site placement permits, but must also have model approval from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction. All tents larger than 400 square feet need to be permitted for installation with the exception of private tents.

If you have questions on whether or not a permit is needed, call NKAPC at 859. 957.2408, or you can view the code sections here.

Previous upgrades to the residential code have tried to get automatic fire suppression systems installed in all residential structures. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not adopted this method yet, but other factors now have been added to protect a home.

For instance, floor systems now require a ½ inch gypsum wallboard, 5/8 inch wood structural panel or equivalent applied to the bottom side of all floor framing member unless the building is suppressed, over a crawlspace or the floor assembly uses dimensional lumber equal to or greater than 2-inch by 10-inch nominal lumber.

With more home builders using engineered wood framing members to help with labor costs and use less construction material, other factors which would help ensure the home’s integrity under fire conditions are needed soon.

Staff develop app for collection of field data using GIS

Posted on February 26, 2014
Integrating field-collected data seamlessly into the LINK-GIS system has been a long-held goal for NKAPC staff members. Now, new software from Esri gives GIS department members the ability to roll out applications to anyone with a smartphone or tablet with GPS capabilities.

Christy Powell, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS programmer has created two projects to show how this capability can be utilized. The first project is a bike and pedestrian count application for the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department. This application will be used during the semi-annual audit in May of this year.

The second project is a building damage assessment application. During an emergency situation this application would be used to collect information such as number of people affected, contact names, and extent of damage. Since this information is stored in the cloud, even if the NKAPC building was affecting during a disaster, the maps and data would still be available. Another advantage of the application being in the cloud is that in a large disaster, inspectors from outside NKAPC would have access to the data.

In addition to geographic and tabular data, the user can capture photos and video tied to the location. The application also has built-in routing and directions.

“I’ve shown this application to people who collected building damage assessments in the past and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Powell. “We are currently working from a template provided by Esri. With input from building inspectors over the next few weeks, we will be refining the database to better meet NKAPC’s needs.”

The GIS staff has been showing this capability internally and externally over the past month. Several groups have expressed interest in creating projects. Steve Lilly, NKAPC’s land surveying analyst, says, “I’m working with the GIS department to create a survey control monument reconnaissance application. The way we collected this data in the past did not tie the photos to the field data. This system will save us time in the field, streamline our process, and cut out data entry errors.”

The ArcGIS Collector application is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market).  This application is free to download and has sample data from Esri available. A username and password provided by NKAPC are needed to connect with maps published by NKAPC and begin collecting data.

Permit numbers stay strong despite frigid temperatures

Posted on February 04, 2014
December and January weather usually prompts a decline in building activity in Kenton County due to cold temperatures and snow. Not this year, in spite of colder than normal temperatures and higher than usual snowfall.

NKAPC reports indicate that since January 6, 2014, when the polar vortex moved through Northern Kentucky, NKAPC has issued 43% of the 217 permits it processed since December 1.

Even with the subzero temperatures, contractors are braving the cold, completing projects, and calling for their inspections, according to Brian Sims, CBO, NKAPC’s chief building official. NKAPC staff performed 223 inspections within this time period.

“We don’t want to be out in this weather anymore than the next guy, but we have to make ourselves available to help our customers move their projects along,” said Sims.

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.

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.

Staff members burnish their skills in other professional roles

Posted on December 17, 2013
NKAPC staff members have a long history of giving back to this community and to their professions—and ultimately Kenton County—through service to organizations that help further NKAPC’s goals, improve their skills, and maintain their professional certifications. That history continues through to today.

“Our elected officials have expected us to be involved in local and state organizations since back in the early 70’s,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “These involvements—which have included serving as board members and officers, state presidents, and even as a national president—provide these staff with a wealth of experiences that ultimately benefit Kenton County. Staff get to burnish their credentials and gain leadership experiences that help them be more effective in their jobs.”

Five NKAPC staffers have been elected or appointed to leadership roles with outside organizations recently.

Martin Scribner, AICP, the agency’s planning and zoning director, was elected chair of the New Urbanism Division of the American Planning Association (APA). The APA provides leadership for citizen and professional planners in the development of vital communities. The New Urbanism Division provides planners, public officials, and other decision makers with the information, support, and tools needed to eliminate restrictive conventional development regulations and allow New Urbanism patterns to be incorporated in all communities.

Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager at NKAPC was elected chair of the Northern Kentucky Forum for 2014 after serving on the board for two years. The Forum is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy partnership whose mission is to inform, educate, and engage citizens of Northern Kentucky in free forums on topics, issues, current events, and policies that affect Northern Kentucky. As chair, she will oversee events scheduled to be held in 2014 and assist board members in planning and implementing events on topics that are pertinent to the Northern Kentucky community.

James Fausz, AICP, principal planner at NKAPC, was elected a regional representative to the board of APA Kentucky Chapter. In this role, he will represent citizen and professional planners in northern and northeastern Kentucky. Fausz looks forward to the opportunity of setting up and coordinating training events and networking sessions so that planners in our area can be engaged. Aside from representing planners and planning events, Fausz will be responsible for working on the chapter development plan, reviewing and adopting the annual budget, and helping set overall direction.

Principal planner Jenna LeCount, AICP, has served as a member of the Leadership Steering Committee for LEGACY for more than a year. LEGACY is a young professionals’ network in Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky which provides opportunities for YPs to develop professionally and personally and to contribute more fully to their community. LeCount was recently appointed as the Community Committee chair where she will focus her efforts on projects intended to impact and improve the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. Currently, LeCount is leading this committee to establish an annual Row-n-Run event to enhance LEGACY’s visibility and outreach in the community.

John Lauber, one of NKAPC’s senior building code officials, was re-elected to the office of Treasurer for Northern Kentucky Building Inspectors Association (NKBIA).  The NKBIA is an association dedicated to improving the standards of building code enforcement practices and establishing uniform interpretations of all applicable codes in Northern Kentucky. NKBIA’s mission is to bring together individuals engaged in the administration and enforcement of building and other related codes to share information, experience and policy, exchange ideas, discuss mutual problems, and establish uniform interpretation of all applicable codes.

Staff provides hands-on GIS support for NKU and TMC students

Posted on December 17, 2013
Helping users get the most of their interactions with LINK-GIS has always been a goal of NKAPC staffers. During the month of November, they stepped up their efforts and took to the road for several technical venues.

Christy Powell, GISP, senior GIS programmer, and Joe Busemeyer, GISP, principal GIS programmer led hands-on workshops for those wanting to expand their usage of linkgis.org. Morning and afternoon sessions filled quickly with employees from public and private entities. The two-hour sessions covered basic and advanced tips and tricks for the website and offered the attendees the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions of the website developers. Some of the suggestions from the workshop have already been implemented on the website.

Kyle Snyder, GISP, principal GIS specialist facilitated GIS training at Northern Kentucky University on November 21st and 22nd. The first day provided an introduction/refresher to those using Esri’s Arc Map and LINK-GIS data; the second day focused on editing in Esri’s Arc Map. Esri is the industry leader in GIS software. This training session focused on increasing familiarity not only the Esri’s products but also showing GIS professionals from around area data that is available through the LINK-GIS partnership. Participants attended from Tri-Ed, Kenton County Public Works, Northern Kentucky Water, Campbell County Planning, NKU’s Center of Environmental Restoration, Kenton County Schools, and the Campbell County Solid Waste Department.

Nick Brophy, manager of economic development at Northern Kentucky Tri-ED said, "I felt the ArcMap training session was very well organized and structured in a way where we gained relevant knowledge through practical application projects assigned to each topic of the course.”

Powell and Busemeyer visited Thomas More College later in the month to demonstrate the LINK-GIS website map-viewer capabilities to Professor Shannon Galbraith-Kent’s class. That class consisted of about 15 students (mostly environmental science and biology majors) in one of the available computer labs on campus. The students picked up the capabilities of the LINK-GIS website map viewer quickly and what it has to offer.

Students explored areas they are familiar with in Northern Kentucky. They compared current aerial photography with historic aerial photography. They also learned how to query multiple data layers to gather information about their community, including the intricacies of the many tools available on the interactive map.

The visit sparked additional interest with Thomas More College to acquire GIS software and begin providing classes to their students on how to use it. Feedback from this class was very positive and new relationships were formed.

If you are interested in attending a future workshop or would like the GIS staff to conduct a workshop at your location, contact a staff member for details.

Input and collaboration move transportation plan forward

Posted on December 17, 2013
NKAPC and OKI staff knew that engaging Kenton County drivers was critical to the crafting of a new transportation plan for the county. So, they asked them for their opinions on mobility in the county including all modes from pedestrians to freight.

“We wanted to hear about issues from people who are traveling around the county every day,” said Robyn Bancroft, AICP, Strategic Planning Manager for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. “We created an online survey that was open for over two months and received about 500 responses. They included opinions about pedestrian and bicycle traffic, commuting patterns, and even freight transportation concerns. We’re currently reviewing them to make sure we consider all concerns as we begin drafting improvement recommendations.”

Planners from both agencies met recently with residents and officials in southern Kenton County to discuss the unique needs of that section of the county. The Southern Kenton County Citizens Group, which arose from interest stemming from a Direction 2030 public meeting, has been meeting regularly since that meeting in December 2011; its members participated in this meeting.

“The group has been very active on a variety of issues, and they were particularly interested in discussing transportation,” explained James Fausz, AICP, a principal planner for NKAPC. “We met, discussed their interests and concerns, and came away with a clear picture of what the attendees desired – safer and better maintained roadways.”

A cooperative effort was started as a result of the meeting to review maintenance issues and work to prioritize potential solutions for inclusion into the plan. The Kenton County Fiscal Court, Kenton County Public Works, NKAPC, and local residents are now joining forces to create real solutions for rural Kenton County.

Beyond the online survey and south Kenton County meeting, staff has worked with an Advisory Team to provide direction for the study. The team, comprised of local officials, transportation agency representatives, and citizens, meets at key points in the study process and provides insight to further refine areas and issues that need additional study. Input from this team, combined with public outreach efforts and the professional experience of NKAPC and OKI staff, is truly a collaborative effort designed to help make Kenton County multi-modal transportation systems as efficient as possible – today and into the future.

The study is currently wrapping up research into existing and future conditions and is beginning to move into the analysis and recommendations phase of the plan.

There is still time to participate by in the online survey by visiting www.oki.org/kenton/ and sharing your comments through the form at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to receive information regarding the plan via email newsletters, contact James Fausz at jfausz@nkapc.org. For the latest information on the plan, check the NKAPC and OKI websites.
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