Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains answers to the common questions posed to PDS staff. To begin, click the department name to expand the list.
The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, also know as NKAPC, is changing its name to Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, or simply PDS.
Clarity is the driving force behind the name change.

This name change will put an end to the confusion created by two connected organizations that both used the term ‘planning commission’ in their names: the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and the Kenton County Planning Commission.

A communications assessment conducted for NKAPC in 2011 found that the number one problem people had with the organization was confusion about the services that NKAPC provided and how they differ from those provided by the Kenton County Planning Commission.
Yes. Planning and Development Services of Kenton County reflects the true mission of the organization as a service provider on behalf of the county’s 20 local governments—a city-county planning department, if you will.  It also helps delineate which body is the decision maker and which supports those who make the decisions.

Also, the new name reflects the true service area of the organization, not the greater Northern Kentucky community, which was the original mission of the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission as envisioned by Northern Kentucky’s legislative delegation in 1960.
Following a 2011 petition drive that sought to eliminate NKAPC, the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council—the agency’s governing body made up of local elected officials—took a six-month, comprehensive look at the organization and how it was operating.

Council members examined the agency’s finances, staffing, administration, operations, and more. After finishing their review, those elected officials made 16 recommendations to improve the organization’s efficiencies and effectiveness. Members and NKAPC staff have worked diligently since then to complete those recommendations.

After completing the objectives set forth in those recommendations, the final task was to eliminate the confusion and false perceptions created by the NKAPC name.
Yes. The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council—once again, the organization’s governing body—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Council and the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission—the seven-member board selected by elected officials to oversee the staff—will now be known as the Planning and Development Services Management Board.  In both instances, these new names better reflect the mission of these bodies.

The name of the Kenton County Planning Commission will remain the same since it is this body charged by state statutes with pursuing planning and zoning responsibilities for all Kenton County communities.
This collaborative services model saves taxpayer dollars by providing planning and development services on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments, which don’t have to hire staff individually to provide these services. PDS works in concert with these local governments to provide services, answer questions and concerns, staff their planning commission, and ensure that these communities are developed (and redeveloped) in a healthy, safe, and effective way.

PDS offers a wide array of services – planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, building codes administration, GIS mapping, and a One Stop Shop program for codes enforcement.  It also provides technical support to first-responders in times of emergency, all of which makes the community better, safer, and more professionally planned and developed.

PDS also facilitates economic development by working closely and professionally with elected officials, economic development professionals, real-estate developers, utility providers, and the construction industry in general.
The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and staff pursued the following organizational and operational changes between 2012 and 2014 in direct response to the area planning council’s recommendations:

Review agency costs and fees on a regular basis to ensure that fees cover costs and are in line with the fees charged in other jurisdictions
  • Recalculate all of the agency’s component costs and implement new billable hour rates to ensure these rates cover all applicable costs for staff.
  • Increase administrative fees set by the Area Planning Commission to cover costs authorized by the Kentucky Revised Statutes; benchmark these fees against what other jurisdictions charge in Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati area, and monitor these costs and fees on an annual basis.
Separate the LINK-GIS partnership budget from the PDS budget and reduce tax-revenue contributions to the LINK-GIS program
  • Reduce tax-revenue contributions to the LINK-GIS partnership and encourage the partners of the program to review how various GIS services are funded for non-partner users and determine whether it is feasible to charge them for different levels of data delivery.  
  • Separate out the LINK-GIS partnership’s revenues, expenditures, and reserves from the PDS budget so each organization’s budget and priorities can be viewed separately and more objectively.
Examine agency operations and implement changes to achieve cost savings and efficiencies
  • Analyze PDS staff’s space needs in the agency’s building to ensure this space is being put to its most productive use and consider the possibility of renting building space to third parties, if appropriate.
  • Address with the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board the need to recover part of the costs that are driven by that program, including encouraging the Board to decrease the number of fines forgiven and increase the amount of levied fines that are collected; imposing minimum administrative costs in addition to fines; and tracking staff time associated with this program to facilitate the calculation of administrative costs.
  • Continue to review healthcare insurance options to hold the line on this annual cost.
  • Reprogram the agency’s timekeeping software to improve accountability and transparency and accuracy for billing purposes. Pursue new time-keeping software to facilitate this process if the current software can’t provide the needed information.
Examine the effectiveness of the One Stop Shop program and implement cost savings
  • Review all One Stop Shop program agreements with local governments and the services provided through these agreements to ensure that service levels identified in the agreements match the services actually being provided and the charges being billed.
  • Pursue a new RFQ for One Stop Shop electrical inspection services to ensure that service levels being provided and fees being charged are appropriate.
These changes were made to make PDS more efficient, understandable, accountable, and transparent. These changes provide a more responsive and accountable way of providing services to residents, communities, and businesses.

Accountability is a hallmark of PDS. These changes are being made in part to ensure that the organization continues to be responsive to the concerns of the community as it has for the past 53 years.
No—and it never has.  One of the misconceptions about NKAPC—now PDS—is that it performed a numbers of tasks for which it had no responsibility.  Those are tasks assigned to the Kenton County Planning Commission.  But, because NKAPC provided staff services to the Kenton County Planning Commission, and because hearings were held at the NKAPC Building, a commonly-held perception was that NKAPC made the decisions.  This is part of the confusion that led NKAPC officials to change its name to Planning and Development services.
Because state statutes for planning and zoning commissions are fairly specific, the impact of these changes on the Kenton County Planning Commission is limited. Until now, the Area Planning Commission’s budget covered a share of the costs for providing staff services to the Kenton County Planning Commission. This past budget practice made it difficult to assess all costs directly associated with serving the county planning commission. Under the new transparent financing model, these costs now will be shown as part of the Kenton County Planning Commission’s budget.
PDS and county planning commission officials outlined this change in a Memorandum of Understanding approved by both bodies. More importantly, this change was a direct result of the request by Kenton County local elected officials for a more efficient, understandable, accountable, and transparent planning operation.

Keep in mind that the same local elected officials who participate in the PDS Council, which is responsible for the PDS Management Board and PDS staff, also appoint members to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the body that hears planning and zoning cases and makes recommendations to local elected officials.  Kenton County elected officials are firmly in control of the entire planning operation.
As part of this process, the agency examined the operations of the 11 planning agencies in Northern Kentucky and most in Greater Cincinnati along with a number of others in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Of the 76 planning units examined, 67 operate roughly the same operational model as PDS will as it goes forward.  That model starts with elected officials who: 1) hold the responsibility to appoint citizens to the local planning commission; 2) approve the tax funding to pay for the professional staff needed to support the local planning commission and provide other governmental services; and 3) set broad policy guidelines for the day-to-day operations of the planning unit.

Each community finances these services through fees and taxes, whether it’s a direct tax or a jurisdiction’s general taxes that are allocated for this purpose. Regardless of the method of funding for these planning and development services, the common thread in 67 of this 76 planning units is that elected officials have the final say on the budget, what’s included in that budget, what services are provided, and who pays for those services.
Actually, three separate courts have ruled that NKAPC has been operating legally and within the state statutes that created the organization more than 50 years ago. While it is true that state lawmakers originally contemplated NKAPC as a regional entity, Boone County chose not to join NKAPC in 1961 and in the early 1980s Campbell County voters passed a ballot initiative that eliminated funding for regional planning. But, despite the legal challenges, the courts have been unanimous and clear that NKAPC is operating legally in Kenton County.
Yes.  As was the case with NKAPC, PDS can continue to provide services on a contractual basis to other local governments – cities and counties – in the region. This has been a long-held practice at NKAPC.  The program is built on the organization’s “critical mass” of professionals, providing economies of scale that are impossible for local jurisdictions to match and levels of service the local jurisdictions can’t afford.  It should be noted that those governments pay for these services, not Kenton County taxpayers.
PDS staff will pursue a number of outreach activities over the next six months intended to explain these changes and highlight the services the organization provides. Changes will be made on as we transition onto
This depends on the time of year. During the warmer months we receive more permit applications per week than we do in the colder months. Permits are processed by the date they are received. 

Warmer Months (April through October)
  1. Electrical permits: Walk-in
  2. Zoning only permits: (i.e. fence, small shed, driveway etc....) Walk-in
  3. Residential permits: (new house, deck, detached garage, room addition etc...) approximately three to five business days.
  4. Commercial permits: (all other permits - excluding electrical, zoning only or residential) approximately three to five business days.
Colder Months (November through March)
  1. Electrical permits: Walk-in
  2. Zoning only permits: (i.e. fence, small shed, driveway etc....) Walk-in
  3. Residential permits: (new house, deck, detached garage, room addition etc...) approximately two to four business days. 
  4. Commercial permits: (all other permits - excluding electrical, zoning only or not residential) approximately two to four business days.

There are many possible reasons why a permit might take longer than the approximate time noted above.

- Not enough information was submitted for the zoning review to be approved (i.e. site plan did not have enough information, no information submitted on type or height of fence to be installed). 
- Not enough information was submitted for the building review to be approved (i.e. construction documents did not include all structural information needed, construction documents did not address / include life safety / fire safety code issues). 
- Staff members are out of office due to professional or personal reasons 
- Permits are processed in the order in which they are received and there may be an unusually high volume of permits.

- The construction documents need to be of sufficient clarity. Below are some of the drawings and/or information that need to be submitted.
- Front, side, and rear elevations drawings. 
- Floor plan showing all interior and exterior walls.
- Floor plan showing the use of each room or space (i.e. - bedroom, kitchen, bathroom etc...).
- All structural information - load bearing walls, floor joist, ceiling joist or trusses, steel beams, wood beams, steel columns, wood columns, headers and/or beams for all framed opening in load bearing walls.
- All structural information regarding the footer and foundation - width and thickness of footers. Height and thickness of foundation walls. Size and spacing of all rebar in the footer and foundation.

Note: The information listed above is only a partial list of information that may or may not be required. A larger project (such as a new custom home) will require more information than an alteration or small room addition. The drawings need to be complete and the plans should be of sufficient clarity so you can generate a material list and construct the building with few or no questions (i.e what size I-beam do I need to install or what size window is being installed in the bedroom). The better the plans, the smoother the project will go for all that need to use them (owner, contractor, supplier, inspector etc...).

All plans/drawings must be drawn to scale unless all dimensions are indicated.
No, but all dimensions and notes must be legible.
NKY Health Department at 8001 Veterans Memorial Dr, Florence, KY 41042; 8859.341.4264
- Anytime you want to build a new structure on a county or state road, an encroachment permit is required to be obtained prior to the building permit being reviewed. 
- State Highway Department (state roads) is located at 421 Buttermilk Pk, Ft Mitchell, KY 41017; phone number is (859) 341-2700. 
- The Kenton County road department is located at 420 Independence Station Rd, Independence, KY 41051; phone number is 859.392.1920.
Prior to PDS issuing a building/zoning permit, we will need proof of an encroachment permit or a letter from the state or county road department stating a permit is not required.
All required inspections are specified in the permit letter.
It is the applicant's responsibility to call our office 24 to 48 hours in advance to schedule the inspection.
As long as work begins within 6 months of the date the permit was issued and work on the project does not stop for more than 6 months, the permit will not expire.
Our address is 1840 Simon Kenton Way, Suite 3400, 4th floor, Covington, Kentucky 41011-2999. From I-71/75, take the 12th Street exit.
NKY Health Department at 8001 Veterans Memorial Dr, Florence, KY 41042; 859.341.4264
NKY Health Department at 8001 Veterans Memorial Dr, Florence, KY 41042; 859.341.4264

- One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet. 
- Fences not over 6 feet (1829 mm) high.

- Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade and not over any basement or story below and which are not part of an accessible route.
- Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
- Swings and other playground equipment accessory to one-and two-family dwellings.
- Window awnings supported by an exterior wall.- Replacing windows.
- New siding or residing.
- Ordinary re-roofing (no sheathing and/or structural members are being repaired or replaced).
- Ordinary repair such as repairing/replacing drywall or a door. Repairs made to any structural element of your home is not considered ordinary repair. Replacing any structural element in your home is not considered ordinary repair. Please call our office if you are not sure if a permit is required.

Note: Above items in bold will require a zoning permit.

For the City of Covington apply at 20 West Pike St, Covington, KY; 859.292.2184
Kenton County and all other cities apply at 1840 Simon Kenton Way, Suite 5100, Covington, KY 41011; 859.392.1440

No, unless your insurance policy specifically states Kentucky Worker's Compensation coverage as a secondary coverage.
2018 Kentucky Residential Code which is derived from the 2015 International Residential Code.
2018 Kentucky Building Code which is derived from the 2015 International Commercial Code.
Kentucky building codes can be found on the Division of Building Codes Enforcement website.
Prior to occupying a new structure, addition or renovation, a final inspection must be performed. A final inspection is always required on all projects where a building permit has been issued (i.e. decks, pools, retaining walls, interior/exterior alterations, etc...)
The LINK-GIS Partnership is an agreement among several area organizations to work cooperatively in the funding and management of a Geographic Information System for the benefit of the agencies involved and the community at large. The participating partners include: the PDS, Kenton County Property Valuation Administrator, Kenton County Fiscal Court, Sanitation District #1, Northern Kentucky Water District, Campbell County Fiscal Court, Campbell County Property Valuation Administration, Pendleton County Fiscal Court, and Pendleton County Property Valuation Administration.

GIS ( Acronym for Geographic Information System) - An integrated collection of computer software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and model spatial processes. A GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed.

GPS ( Acronym for Global Positioning System.) A system of radio-emitting, and receiving, satellites used for determining positions on the earth. The orbiting satellites transmit signals that allow a GPS receiver anywhere on earth to calculate its own location through trilateration. Developed and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, the system is used in navigation, mapping, surveying, and other applications in which precise positioning is necessary.

Various mapping services are available to Kenton, Campbell, Pendleton Counties.

Parcel lines



Building footprints



Water lines

Sewer lines


City boundaries



School districts

Voting districts

Police & Fire districts

Comprehensive Plan

Land use

Aerial photography

Railroads Recreation Fences

To place an order, complete and submit this online form, or call 859.331.8980 for more information.

The GIS Department's current list of mapping services and fees are provided in this document.
Please call 859.331.8980 regarding large orders.
Maps are typically ready in one to three working days, depending on the size of the order. Same day pick-up may be available, but not guaranteed. Please allow extra time for large orders.
Kentucky State Plane North, Feet (NAD 83; 1993 HARN correction)
LINK-GIS aerial photography is acquired at 1"=100' and 1"=200' scales. Images are taken from an airplane equipped with mapping cameras. Most LINK-GIS aerial photography is in natural color, with some older photography available in black and white. No live video feeds are used to acquire these images. For more information on this process, feel free to call our office or stop by for an example.
Past flights occurred every five years, but currently LINK-GIS is on three-year flight cycles. The latest flight was in the spring of 2010.







Color Contact Prints

1" = 1250'


KY Transportation Cabinet


Color Contact Prints

1" = 1000'


KY Transportation Cabinet


B&W Contact Prints



KY Transportation Cabinet


Digital Orthos

15" pixels


KY Transportation Cabinet


Color Contact Prints

1" = 1200'




Color Contact Prints

1" = 600' & 1" = 1200'


LINK-GIS Partnership


Digital Orthos

6" & 12" pixels


LINK-GIS Partnership


Digital Orthos

6" & 12" pixels

James W. Sewall Co.

LINK-GIS Partnership


Digital Orthos

6" pixels


LINK-GIS Partnership


Digital Orthos

6" pixels


LINK-GIS Partnership

Highest = 964’ located along Walton Nicholson Pike
Lowest = 458' at the Ohio River
The forming lumber should to be the full depth of the proposed concrete, the sub-grade needs to be stiff compacted soils, and the inspection needs to be called in the day before you place, and all formwork must be completed before the inspection.
Compacted DGA (Dense graded aggregate) is recommended for use under driveway aprons and sidewalks.
A minimum 4000 psi, 6% air entrained concrete placed at a 4 inch maximum slump, must be use.
Our standard is 4 feet from the back of curb unless otherwise approved.
The sidewalk profile should follow the street, the cross-slope is ¼ inch per foot or 1 inch in the 4 foot width.
The front edge of the sidewalk should be 4 inches above the curb on the front edge and 5 inches above the curb on the back side of the walk. The sidewalk can fall either toward or away from the street.
Installation depth can be dependent on several factors. Check with your engineer for their design.
Granular fill is required. Pipe installation specification ASTM D 2321 will tell you how much compaction effort is needed for different soil types.
Yes. ASTM D 2321 is the required pipe installation specification. Within the R/W there are additional requirements for compaction of the trench backfill material above the pipe.
Due to the hydraulic calculation preformed by the engineer, we are not at liberty to very from pipe types called out on the plans. Changes must come through the design engineer.
Every structure 4 feet and deeper measured from the outlet invert to the top of the casting must have steps 12 inches oc.
Do to the inability to install steps in the 2x2, depth is limited to 3 feet.
No, the pipe must meet current sub-reg specifications such as perforated SDR 35.
Only under sidewalks, all other sub-grade preparations must be uniformly compacted clayey soils.
Yes, a hot pour elastic type sealant or approved equal is required.
Zoning is the classification of land into districts. The purpose of zoning is to regulate the use of land including the use, placement, size of buildings, yard requirements and parking. A zoning law consists of two parts: (1) a zoning map showing the boundaries of the various districts; and (2) a written text (called a zoning ordinance) setting forth the regulations applicable to each district. Zoning’s main purpose is to protect and preserve the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens of each community, but also to facilitate orderly and harmonious development and the visual or historical character of the community, and to regulate the density of population and intensity of land use in order to provide for adequate light and air.
The uses that are allowed on a particular lot are governed by the regulations for the zoning district in which the lot is located and other general regulations. The minimum yard requirements, more commonly referred to as "setback requirements", along with other location regulations, restrict the location of structures on a lot. The setback requirements vary by zoning district. In order to find out the zoning of your property and how the use of the property is regulated, you can: (1) use our online search at; (2) find the appropriate zoning map at; or (3) contact the PDS staff at 859.331.8980.
If you are researching property in the following cities, please contact that city directly for zoning information:
•    Bromley
•    Covington
•    Elsmere
•    Erlanger
•    Fairview
The zoning ordinances for each jurisdiction are maintained by the staff of the Planning and Development Services of Kenton County. You can access them at
A request for a map amendment (zone change) is required in such cases where development which is proposed on a site is not consistent with the current zoning. Requests may originate from the property owner (or agent), the planning commission or the legislative body. Complete applications are submitted to the staff of the Planning and Development Services of Kenton County for review and recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission, which holds at least one public hearing following public notice. Findings of fact and recommendation including a summary of evidence and testimony are then sent to the legislative body for final action to be taken on the request. Approximately four to six months should be anticipated to complete the map amendment process.
Each city’s/county’s legislative body makes all decisions on zoning regulations. While the Kenton County Planning Commission gives a recommendation on proposed zoning text amendments, it is ultimately up to the city/county to decide whether or not to adopt that change. If you believe it would be in the city's or county’s best interest to consider a zoning regulation change, that conversation must start with the city council/commission or the Kenton County Fiscal Court, depending on your location.
Many of the subdivisions in the county are subject to covenants and deed restrictions which regulate the use of property beyond the limitations contained in the city’s/county's zoning ordinance. These deeds and covenants are private agreements between property owners and are not enforced by the city or county. Therefore, before you add a shed or fence to your property or initiate any other significant changes, you should also check with your homeowners' association to determine if any restrictions apply.
Each community has a Board of Adjustment that makes case-by-case decisions on requests by property owners under specific circumstances. Like the Planning Commission, Board members are local citizens appointed by the city, and are not professional planners.
The primary duties of the Board of Adjustment are:
•    Hear property owner requests regarding variances to requirements of the zoning ordinance. For example, most zoning categories have a "setback" requirement from the street and side and rear yard lines. If a property owner residing in a zone that required a six-foot side yard setback wanted to make a house addition that extended to four feet, they would need board approval to do so.
•    Hear cases involving request by property owners to have specified conditional uses permitted on their property. Every zoning category has a list of conditional uses that can only be allowed if approved by the Board of Adjustment. An example of this type of case would be churches in areas zoned residential. Before a church can locate (or expand) in a residential zoning district, they would need to apply for a conditional use permit.
•    Hear change of nonconforming use requests. If the zoning regulations have changed and no longer include a land use that is currently operating in that district, it is allowed to continue as a nonconforming use. Occasionally, a property owner will request that they be allowed to change their land use to something with less impact on surrounding properties, but is still not allowed by the zoning regulations. In this case, the Board of Adjustment would decide whether or not to allow this use change, subject to certain conditions.
•    Hear administrative appeals from zoning enforcement decisions, including interpretation of zoning laws. Any party who feels that an enforcement or interpretation action was incorrect may appeal that decision to the Board for final determination.

It is a long-range vision and guide for public and private development in Kenton County. The plan includes such elements as land use, community facilities, mobility, economy, housing, etc. Together, these elements form a guide outlining the existing and potential future development for Kenton County. While PDS provides professional assistance in developing the Comprehensive Plan, ultimately, the Kenton County Planning Commission is responsible for adoption. Per the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the comprehensive plan is required to be updated as necessary every five years. Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice., was adopted as the comprehensive plan for Kenton County in September 2014, the first all new plan since the early 1970s.  Direction 2030 is completely web-based and can be viewed at

These are a comprehensive approaches to planning at a “neighborhood” level. The intent is to take an in-depth look at various elements such as existing conditions, land use, and market potential. One important feature that sets these studies apart from the comprehensive plan is public participation. Public input is more specific to direct needs and desires for an area where residents live, work and play. These studies are attractive to residents and businesses because of the more personalized nature of the planning effort.
Zoning includes a set of regulations associated with a piece of property and specifies areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place within an area. Future land use recommendations outline the best fit for future development in the county.
When a citation is issued, you must respond to PDS within seven (7) days of receiving the citation. You may either pay the fine set forth in the citation or request, in writing, a hearing before the code enforcement board to contest the citation. Whether the citation is contested or not, please contact the Code Enforcement Department to request a re-inspection when the issues have been corrected to stop accrual of fines; fines continue until the violation(s) is or are completely corrected and the corrections are verified by the Code Enforcement Department. Failure to pay fine or request a hearing from the Code Enforcement Board within seven (7) days of receipt of a citation will mean that you are no longer able to contest the citation and the determination that an offense was committed shall be final.
The future land use map is a recommendation for how an area or property should be used. In the future when a property develops or redevelops, the future land use map provides a starting point for suggesting how it should be developed.

When a zone change is requested the request is analyzed based on recommendations in the comprehensive plan. If the requested change is not in conformance with the comprehensive plan then the applicant is asked to demonstrate one of the following:
A) That the existing zoning classification given to the property is inappropriate and that the proposed zoning classification is appropriate; or B) that there have been major changes of an economic, physical or social nature within the area involved which were not anticipated in the adopted comprehensive plan and which have substantially altered the basic character of such area.
In addition the comprehensive plan offers guidance on environmental concerns in Kenton County such as hillside and riparian protection, watershed planning and green infrastructure.