Planning & Zoning

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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.

Villa Hills task force, staff schedule open house for planning study

Posted on January 03, 2017

The City of Villa Hills, the Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Kentucky, Inc., and PDS are nearing the completion of the Villa Hills Small Area Study after nearly a year’s work. The result of that work will be displayed and explained during an open house on January 4, 2017 from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the River Ridge Elementary School cafeteria (2772 Amsterdam Road). City residents may come and go at any time during the 90-minute timeframe.

The group collaborated since early 2016 on a detailed study of land on and around the Saint Walburg Monastery property in Villa Hills. The study culminates in a plan that includes recommendations on mobility, land use, and community facilities for the site. 

A task force overseeing the study held a public meeting at the beginning of summer to learn from the community their ideas and desires for the site. Since that public meeting, the task force has worked towards developing direction for the plan and refining recommendations for the site.

Members of the Task Force also sought the expert advice of regional developers, with the goal of gathering insight and understanding regarding the types of development that would be appropriate for the site. Staff conducted interviews with regional developers and the information gathered through this process was used by the task force to help guide the direction of the final plan.  

“The interviews with regional developers allowed task force members to view the site from a developer’s perspective and get a good grasp on what may be feasible on the site”, said Craig Bohman, City Administrator/Clerk for Villa Hills. Information from the developer interviews, the public meeting, and market study were all used by the task force to help guide the direction of the study.

The task force consists of Villa Hills elected officials, city employees, citizens, Saint Walburg representatives, and Madonna Manor officials. The group worked with PDS from the beginning to provide guidance for the plan and help be a voice for the larger community.

If you are interested in learning more about the project and/or getting updates about its progress, visit the city’s website or contact Bohman at 859.341.1515

Bike/Pedestrian study about to begin; will become part of comp plan

Posted on January 03, 2017

PDS staff began preliminary research recently in preparation for updating Kenton County’s plans for bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Work on the actual study will begin in earnest next month and take roughly 12 months to complete. It will replace plans adopted in 1999 and 2002.

The Kenton County Planning Commission and its 20 local governments utilize two plans currently related to active transportation. The bicycle plan was updated last in 1999 and the pedestrian plan in 2002. Neither subject was covered at length in Direction 2030. Your Voice. Your Choice.—the community’s comprehensive plan.

“These stand-alone plans no longer reflect the needs and issues affecting Kenton County’s bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation,” said Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, Director of Planning and Zoning at PDS. “And, with growing demand for walkability and healthy lifestyles, now is the time to update these plans.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet aided this effort with a $10,000 Paula Nye Grant to improve safety of non-motorized transportation. As recipient of the grant, PDS will use these funds to educate the public, increase awareness of bicycle and pedestrian safety issues, and raise awareness of the countywide planning effort through a public service announcement campaign.

“Awareness of bicycle and pedestrian safety in Kenton County is becoming an important issue as these modes of transportation become more popular and the demand for these facilities increases,” said Randall.

Comments received during the Direction 2030 planning process were incorporated into the plan’s Statement of Goals and Objectives and Mobility elements of the comprehensive plan. The current bicycle/pedestrian study will be adopted into the plan once it’s completed.

As part of the study, PDS staff will study existing conditions and identify issues and concerns with Kenton County’s existing bicycle and pedestrian system. Goals for the plan include inventorying existing bicycle and pedestrian amenities such as bike lanes, bike routes, walking paths, and signage; and, improving the community’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Adoption of Direction 2030 in September 2014 completed a two-year long process of research and public engagement, ultimately crafting the community’s vision for Kenton County. The adoption of the comprehensive plan was just one of many steps in making that vision become a reality for Kenton County.

If you’re interested in learning more about this study, getting involved, and/or receiving updates about its progress, visit the Direction 2030 Action website or contact Chris Schneider, AICP, Principal Planner.

PDS hosts autonomous vehicle seminar for area wide audience

Posted on January 03, 2017

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” -Yogi Berra

PDS and the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association hosted an autonomous vehicle seminar earlier this month. The session began a discussion of how this advancing technology might change planning practice in Northern Kentucky. More than 30 city officials, planning professionals, and citizens from the eight-county region attended.

The event was one of the first in the region to look at how today’s vision of the future is starting to change how we interact with automobiles.

The discussion was facilitated by three professionals from Columbus, Ohio who have researched the topic extensively and presented to groups across the country. Two planners from OHM Advisors, Justin Robbins, AICP, and Jason Sudy, AICP, along with Rick Stein, AICP, of Urban Decision Group, formed the Urban Mobility Research Center to study the impacts that autonomous vehicles will have on our cities.

 “We’re nearing the end of a massive 70-year development experiment, with a new one about to begin,” said Justin Robbins, AICP. “We’ve created our cities around a specific transportation model, and the introduction of autonomous vehicles will fundamentally disrupt how that current system functions.”

The new technology will have an effect on every person who either drives or rides in a vehicle to get from place to place. With such a high potential impact, the subject is starting to gather the attention of decision makers as well.

“This technology is coming, sooner than later, and it has the potential to impact how we design our infrastructure,” said Brian Dehner, City Administrator for Edgewood. “We could construct narrower streets and not require as many parking spaces. This frees up land for additional economic development and green space. We need to get ahead of this and begin to evaluate this technology and be a region that invites the technology.”

“Autonomous vehicles will not only change how we get from place to place, but also how our cities function. And it will be happening a lot sooner than people think,” said Jason Sudy, AICP, one of the presenters at the event. “For example, significant changes to our roadway infrastructure, public transit services, and our development pattern will all come from the widespread adoption of this technology.”

The well-attended event indicates people are starting to accept the concept and take it more seriously.

“Three or four years ago when we were working on the Kenton County Transportation Study and Direction 2030 comprehensive plan, there were a lot of blank stares or chuckles when I brought up the idea of autonomous vehicles,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager for PDS, APA-KY Region 4 Representative, and organizer of the event.

“People used to think this technology was in the distant future at best, but just a few years later that isn’t the case. Today there are cars with driver assist features that are semi-autonomous and Teslas have been able to drive themselves since 2015. Within ten years we very well may see more autonomous vehicles on the road than those being driven by people,” said Fausz.

“What people tend to forget is that technology progresses on an exponential scale. You can’t get a good sense of its trajectory by looking backwards, because the pace of innovation is always accelerating,” said Rick Stein, AICP, during the presentation.

Autonomous-style features like forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure correction, and blind spot monitoring are available now on numerous auto brands and are precursors to full automation.

“As people become more familiar with these technologies, full automation will likely seem like a small step rather than a giant leap,” Sudy added.

Kenton County Plan4Health highlighted at national meeting

Posted on November 03, 2016
Kenton County’s Plan4Health Coalition was recognized recently at the American Planning Association’s (APA) Fall Leadership Meetings in Washington, DC. The meetings brought together chapter presidents and planners from across the country to learn about the latest topics in the field and plan for the future of the association.

James Fausz, AICP, a senior planner at PDS attended the meetings on behalf of the Kentucky Chapter of APA.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see work from our Plan4Health project presented by national APA staff to planners and chapter leaders as examples of high quality work,” Fausz said. “We know that we do good work for our communities, but it was exciting to see that work presented as an example for the rest of the country.”

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, and even hosting a healthy foods summit near the end of the program.

“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 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 and included professional staff from the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, Inc., American Planning Association-Kentucky Chapter, Northern Kentucky Health Department, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), and PDS.

Lakeside Park disbanding code enforcement board, joining joint board

Posted on November 03, 2016
The Lakeside Park City Council is scheduled to vote to disband its code enforcement board on November 14; an affirmative vote will be followed by action to join the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board. Lakeside Park will become the 12th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, an alliance of local jurisdictions staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, the city will benefit in getting these concerns filled.

“If property owners decide to appeal their cases, the city can rest assured that joint code enforcement board members will be trained, will have legal representation present during all meetings, and will pursue their responsibilities every month due to a combined workload,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director.

“This is far better than a local board that meets maybe one or two times a year and then questions how it is supposed to handle these matters.”

Membership of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction. The Board provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Board meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

Latonia residents continue small area study implementation efforts

Posted on September 01, 2016

Residents, business leaders, and Covington officials embarked on creating a new plan for the Latonia neighborhood in November 2009. The plan they finalized in early 2011 was crafted with implementation as a key recommendation for moving forward.

The Strategic Action Committee still meets monthly to discuss the plan’s objectives and move its recommendations into reality.

“The Committee has done a lot of great things over the years to implement the plan,” said Kate Esarey Greene, Program Manager for Community Development with The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington. “From building a new park at Latonia Elementary to strategic façade improvement programs to National Register of Historic Places designations, the Committee has constantly sought to move the neighborhood, and the plan forward.”

The plan was crafted by a community-driven endeavor which was managed by PDS throughout 2010. The Latonia Small Area Study became a formal part of the county’s comprehensive plan in February 2011. Since that time the written recommendations have been brought to life with citizen engagement, management by the Center for Great Neighborhoods, and assistance from PDS and city officials.

“The Latonia study was my first large-scale project to manage,” explained James Fausz, AICP, a senior planner for PDS. “One of the things I enjoyed the most was meeting people from the neighborhood and helping them focus their efforts to make their community even better. It was a pleasure working with them to craft the plan and it has been even more rewarding seeing the plan’s success through working with the Strategic Action Committee.”

Donna Horine, a lifelong Latonia resident, study Task Force member, and original member of the Strategic Action Committee explained, “We [the Committee] have had the chance to do some really fun things to help implement the plan.”

“I think a lot of the projects have helped make people more aware of Latonia and what it has to offer. Things like the video, working with local Realtors on what Latonia is about, and even the 5k bringing people into the community have helped us move the area forward from the plan we made a few years back,” she said.

While much has been accomplished, there is still more work needed to implement the plan fully. Longer term recommendations like redeveloping the Latonia Plaza Shopping Center, increasing tree canopy coverage to aid in reducing stormwater runoff, and improving east-west mobility south of the study area to reduce freight traffic will likely take many years and the continued efforts of interested citizens to move forward.

If you would like to get involved with the Strategic Action Committee or find out more about its activities, contact Kate Esarey Greene with The Center for Great Neighborhoods or call her at 859.547.5552.

The Latonia Strategic Action Committee meets the 4th Thursday of each month at 6:00 PM at the Latonia Christian Church. Guests are always welcomed.

Planners pursuing downtown parking study/plan for Ludlow

Posted on July 29, 2016
Ludlow Administrator Elishia Chamberlain, Mayor Kenneth Wynn, and City Council have worked hard over the last few years to market and redevelop Ludlow’s downtown commercial district. They’ve also developed a concern that inadequate parking in the downtown area may hinder additional growth. So, the city has partnered with PDS’ planners to study existing and potential parking needs within the business district.
“Ludlow has a great opportunity to grow within existing storefronts and buildings,” commented Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, PDS’ director of planning and zoning. “The city’s charming and affordable housing stock and overall proximity to world-class amenities in downtown Cincinnati make it an ideal candidate for businesses looking to start, relocate, or expand. Our team is working with the city to help identify areas that could help these businesses succeed through expanded parking options.”

The Ludlow downtown business district located along Elm Street (KY 8) features unmarked on-street parking on both sides of the street, with a few limited private parking lots for individual businesses. The city has asked PDS to study the business district and surrounding area to determine if public parking lots are warranted, and where potential parking opportunities may exist.

The study will estimate the parking needs of existing businesses and residents along Elm Street as well as the potential future needs should all available storefronts become occupied. Through the study, PDS staff will explore alternative parking arrangements along Elm Street, and make recommendations for these.

Staff will also look for other off-street parking options like shared lots or even the potential for new lots within the downtown business district. PDS staff will provide the city with recommendations on the most feasible and desirable locations for any proposed additional parking.

With this study, the city hopes to identify several opportunities for off-street parking lots of various sizes. Work on this study is underway and will continue through late August. The city will utilize the study to make strategic capital investments to construct parking lots desired to enable the continued redevelopment of their historic business district. 

Elsmere Council approves move to greater One Stop Shop services

Posted on July 29, 2016
Elsmere City Council and PDS entered into an expanded level of services agreement effective July 5th that delegates all the city’s building codes administration responsibilities to PDS. Until recently, PDS pursued only non-residential building codes work.

“When our long-time building inspector retired, it made sense to move our building permitting and inspections to PDS,” Mayor Marty Lenhof said.  “I know that PDS will continue to provide great service in the manner that Elsmere residents expect.”

 “We’re pleased to be able to provide more services to the city,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “We’ve built a good relationship with Elsmere residents. This expansion of services will help us strengthen it.”

As it is with other One Stop Shop program communities, filing code enforcement complaints, seeking information about building or electric inspections, and searching for a property’s zoning classification is one phone call away. PDS can be reached at 859.331.8980 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday. Considerable information in this regard is also available on the PDS website and the One Stop Shop website.

“The One Stop Shop program has helped a number of cities increase service levels for their citizens and reduce costs since 2005. We’re looking forward to providing more of those benefits to Elsmere and its citizens,” concluded Gordon.

Food Summit provides public with healthy food input

Posted on June 07, 2016

Eat Healthy NKY held its inaugural Food Summit on March 28th at Turkey Foot Middle School, showcasing healthy eating habits, local food production, and food preparation from across the region. Over 250 people attended the free, family-friendly event that featured 25 information booths covering a wide variety of topics important to our local food system—from production and distribution to consumption and food waste.

“We were really excited about this event,” said Michael Ionna, AICP, a principal planner at PDS. “Not only did it allow us to raise awareness and educate the public about the impacts of food and nutrition on healthy communities, it also allowed us to get input from attendees about what specific food issues are most important to them.”

If you are interested in learning more about healthy and local food initiatives in this region, visit and like the Eat Healthy NKY Facebook page which also features information about "next steps" events. At these events you will be able to provide input about food issues important to you as well as network with other individuals interested in creating positive change to our food system, all while eating some delicious chow.

“The goal is to begin initial conversations about creating a network, or coalition of individuals, groups, and organizations who have an interest in creating healthier communities in our region,” said Ionna.

The Food Summit was sponsored by Eat Healthy NKY, an outreach campaign to educate members of the public about healthy food options, and the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition.

To learn more about this initiative, click here.


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