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Entries for 2012

Envista improves online coordination of roadway projects

Posted on December 08, 2012
Local public works and utility officials have worked with NKAPC staff over the last four years to cooperate fully in scheduling pavement and roadway maintenance activities.  The increased communication and coordination has been facilitated by the LINK-GIS online tool called Envista.

This past construction season, the online tool was used by all entities in Kenton and Campbell Counties that want to use it. The result cut down frustrations felt by the commuting public, decreased the need for pavement cuts, and provided savings to locals.

Representatives from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, 22 cities in the two counties, the water and sanitation districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Duke Energy, and Cincinnati Bell are now fully enabled to use the LINK-GIS tool.

“We started a user group for the officials to learn how each agency is using the system and to keep them up to date on software changes,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, NKAPC’s director for GIS administration. All participating entities can see current and upcoming projects through the central communication tool and can identify conflicts and opportunities to work together.

Brush cautioned, “The system is only as good as the data that are put into it. So, in order to make the tool function effectively, NKAPC staff is reminding and aiding local governments and utilities to update and check their projects for any information that would be useful to others looking at the same street segment.

“The online tool has helped to save money and promote working together through coordination. The tool has also helped the participating entities to use their road construction and maintenance dollars shrewdly, which in turn has allowed significant cost savings for local citizens.”

Brochure for identifying landslides available soon

Posted on December 08, 2012
The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), the University of Cincinnati (UC), and the local Hillside Trust are spearheading an effort to provide landslide information to local landowners in an easy-to-understand format. The organizations believe that more understanding is needed by local landowners regarding sensitivities present for landslides in this area.

Over the past year, KGS obtained LiDAR data from the LINK-GIS partnership and used these data to determine areas where landslides have occurred. KGS worked with UC staff to develop a large foldable two-sided document that has helpful photos, maps, and information. The Hillside Trust contributed $5000 to the effort so a smaller brochure could be printed for wider distribution.

KGS, UC, and the Hillside Trust will be continuing to work together while bringing other interested parties from Ohio and Indiana into the process. These groups are also in the planning stages for a symposium on landslides that would take place in the fall of 2013.

More information about the brochure will be published as this collaborative effort continues.

Independence ok’s new zoning district

Posted on December 08, 2012
After a nearly two and a half year process, the final proposed new zoning district recommended by a small area study was adopted by the Independence City Council recently. This final district allows for types of development that were not previously anticipated by the city’s zoning code. It was heard at a public hearing before the Kenton County Planning Commission on October 4th and subsequently sent to the city council for action.

This city action is the culmination of work by a steering committee of citizens appointed in late 2009. The charge presented to the group by Independence City Council was to implement recommendations of the Independence Community Small Area Study, adopted by the city and the Kenton County Planning Commission in 2007.

The appointed steering committee met monthly to review current zoning requirements, small area study recommendations, and zoning alternatives. The members’ geographic focus was for areas around downtown Independence, McCullum Pike, and the intersection of McCullum Pike with new KY 17.

The newly-adopted district is designated the Gateway Mixed Use Zone (GMU), which permits mixed-use developments with an emphasis on aesthetics and connectivity. This district illustrates trends in current development markets that are relatively new in this part of the country.

The GMU Zone focuses on the city’s desire to create a new gateway into Independence, one that will not compete with the southern gateway commercial area and the historic downtown.

Some citizens voiced apprehension about the new zoning districts before the final vote. In the end, however, city officials responded to public sentiment heard during the small area study process.

Before any recommendations were made, months were spent focused on educating the committee and making sure everyone was on the same page.

While not all committee members were in agreement on every provision of the new district, consensus was achieved on all major issues. The committee also made several alterations based on input received from the public. One of these was the decision to increase the size of the minimum development area and to extend the boundary to the west to include more land.

Erlanger charrette process seeks public’s imagination

Posted on December 08, 2012
CommonwealthStation will develop over time within an area across Commonwealth Avenue from the Erlanger City Building according to a strategy being developed with the assistance of city residents. Under a contract between the city and NKAPC, meetings with residents were held recently to help with a community vision for this area—a vision that will be captured in a new form-based zoning code for the area.

A form-based code is a place-specific tool. Unlike conventional zoning, it cannot be applied to different, individual areas around the city.

“A form-based code would help give the area and the people and the property there a little boost,” said Erlanger Mayor Tom Rouse. “It’s an attempt to take a look at the area and give it a shot in the arm.”

The city decided to create this community vision through a process called a “charrette”. A charrette is an intensive multi-day planning and design session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a co-author of the vision.

The City of Erlanger held the charrette on November 16 and 17. A design team of professors and students from Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning were hired to assist in this activity. Outreach for the event included the distribution of more than 150 flyers to businesses and residents, signs posted throughout the area, notice posted online and on the electronic message board in front of the city building.

Over the two-day period, residents, business owners, and people who work in the area had the opportunity to offer their feedback and hear more formal presentations given at the end of each day. The design team worked both days to incorporate comments from the public, the steering committee, and the city into multiple development alternatives for the site. The design teams will produce refined final versions of each of the alternatives in December, which will then be presented to the public for additional feedback.

Direction 2030 goals and objectives now in final draft form

Posted on December 08, 2012
In November, the third and final round of public meetings regarding the draft statement of goals and objectives yielded over 180 comments from the general public, local officials and organizations. Approximately 40 residents stopped by during the course of two public meetings and discussed their thoughts and concerns regarding the draft.

This statement of goals and objectives is intended as a guide to develop policies and implementation measures in the comprehensive plan. Those currently in place were adopted in 1972 during the preparation of the first Kenton County Comprehensive Plan.

The proposed statement is based on three guiding principles; public participation, economy, and relationship between goals. These are applicable to all the goals and objectives and are expected to be used in moving forward. The proposed goals focus on seven different topics including; healthy communities, economy, health, mobility, natural systems, community identity and governance. Each of these categories includes several objectives that will be used in preparing the remaining elements of the comprehensive plan.

Immediately following the last round of public meetings in November, the Direction 2030 Task Force met to discuss the submitted comments. The task force will address all public comments and post its responses on the project’s website. The draft will then be presented to each of the required legislative bodies as an additional review opportunity prior to submitting an official application for adoption.

In accordance with state statutes, an application will be submitted to the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) for review. The KCPC will offer recommendations to the legislative bodies, which will have 90 days to review the proposed statement of goals and objectives and take action.

“Our process has been open and transparent to date. We have held meetings in multiple locations throughout the county to make it easy for people to attend. We have met with anyone or any organization that has had concerns. We hope that our cities have been following this process closely and offer their support,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager.

NWS invites NKAPC staff to present on tornado

Posted on December 08, 2012
The National Weather Service (NWS) office, located in Wilmington, OH, invited NKAPC staff members to make a presentation to NWS staff on its response to the tornado that struck southern Kenton County on March 2, 2012.

On December 4th, staff members from several departments, including Building Codes Administration, GIS, and Planning & Zoning described their response to the devastation. Their short- and long-term efforts for easing the burden on affected residents included: inspections and coordination with local emergency response officials; production of maps and reports used to identify damage sites; and, waiving permit fees and some regulations as the rebuilding process began.

In addition, principal GIS specialist Joe Busemeyer made a presentation on “SnowTracker”, a GIS application created to track the snow treatment and plowing status of roads for Kenton County Public Works.

After the presentation, GIS staff presented a banner map of the path of the tornado for display at the NWS office. In a follow-up message to NKAPC staff, Julia Dian-Reed, a Service Hydrologist stationed in Wilmington wrote:

“We really appreciate your visit today, and the many skills NKAPC offers to Northern Kentucky. Thank you so much for the high-resolution poster of the Piner tornado - we are discussing where to display such a great depiction of a rare EF4 tornado (since our office's existence opening in 1994, there were only 2 other F4's, in Xenia in Sept 2000 and in Blue Ash, Ohio in April 1999). With an EF4 often not survivable above ground - the message of weather safety and awareness plays a large part in our mission. Such a high quality image of the aftermath would go a long way in communicating this message to the numerous tours and visitors we have to our office each year.”

Senior GIS staffer elected state association treasurer

Posted on December 08, 2012
At the recent annual Kentucky GIS Conference, senior GIS specialist Tom East, GISP was elected to the position of treasurer for the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals. East has been in the GIS field for over 35 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Mississippi State University and began his GIS career with the US Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, MS. Since 1990, East has worked at NKAPC and earned his GISP certification in 2009.

KAMP was founded in 2003 and has nearly 250 members from both the public and private sectors throughout Kentucky. Its purpose is to foster the understanding and use of geospatial information in all levels of government, academia, and the private sector in Kentucky. It also serves as a mechanism to promote dialogue and education to professionals involved in the collection, processing, analysis, use, and maintenance of geospatial information.

Market data for Direction 2030 may have additional uses

Posted on December 08, 2012
Staff took steps in a new direction when it contracted a market analyst for technical assistance with Kenton County’s first totally-new comprehensive plan since 1972. Based on initial responses to the nature and quality of the data, staff is looking into an ongoing program to marry this type of data with LINK-GIS mapping capabilities for use by local communities, businesses, and economic development officials.

“Our initial reason for engaging the market analyst was relevance,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “The free market is one of the most important factors determining whether a comprehensive plan is viable and likely to be implemented. The Great Recession and the ‘new normal’ it’s created makes it all the more critical that we have our finger on the pulse of the local market.

“What we got from our analyst met our initial goal. It also gave us an idea that if we could keep the data updated and available, we could assist a number of interests that work in support of Kenton County’s economic future.”

According to the program strategy being developed by staff, data developed recently by Dinn Focused Marketing would be kept up to date regularly and made available to local interests along with mapping that would make the data all the more relevant. The result, according to the draft strategy, would be more jobs and more business for the local economy.

Gordon says the idea for a “data clearinghouse” came to staff following a meeting with local homebuilders. They acknowledged that the nature and quality of the data are what they typically use when determining where to locate their next residential projects and the price range on which they should focus.

“Our development community takes huge amounts of risk on their own behalf. That means they need data to make the most accurate prediction of what the market is telling them,” said Brian Miller, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Northern Kentucky. “If this data is maintained and regularly updated, we foresee the ability to heat map any demographic and economic changes in areas within the County in order to facilitate a dialogue for a number of reasons.”

Miller continued, “Zone changes, comprehensive plans, and subdivision regulations are relevant by supportive data and adaptation to changes in the local market. Flexibility is key in a more responsive planning process and it is difficult to be flexible without data that bears your assumption out.”

A recent meeting with a Covington task force looking into redeveloping neighborhoods within that city’s urban core validated the idea further, according to Gordon. “Seeing economic indicators on a neighbor-by-neighborhood basis showed these folks where they needed to focus their efforts.”

When asked when such a program might be up and running, Gordon responded that the strategy would be put on the table during upcoming discussions about NKAPC’s budget for fiscal year 2014 (that begins in July 2013). He said that while the funding necessary to make the strategy work would be minimal, he hoped to be able to raise funds outside the agency budget to help with its costs.

“These data could help private sector businesses and, as such, would make public-private partnerships totally appropriate as a funding source to keep the program going,” he concluded.

... for whatever it's worth...

Posted on November 30, 2012
With this month’s edition we continue a new feature initiated in September… for whatever it’s worth. NKAPC staffers keep themselves up to date on an ongoing basis regarding what’s happening in other communities of the tri-state, the commonwealth, and the US. Their goal is to keep abreast of events and offerings that can improve the efficiencies of their efforts.

In this quest, they find reports periodically that deserve a local audience because of relevance to a topic being discussed here, because of applicability to an issue here, or to inform local readers of something new and possibly relevant to Kenton County.

This month we provide a blog posting from the website Better! Cities & Towns. The website is dedicated to providing the best news, analysis, and intelligence on compact, mixed-use growth and development available in any medium. This blog posting entitled ‘Walk Appeal: the series’ considers the question of how far today’s typical citizens are willing to walk as developers nationwide propose more and more mixed-use “walkable communities.”

You can access the article here… for whatever it’s worth.

OKI pursues updating strategic regional policy plan

Posted on November 30, 2012
The OKI Regional Council of Governments is updating its strategic policy plan for southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana, and hoping to hear your opinions. OKI’s original policy plan was undertaken to improve quality of life and service to the public in the Cincinnati metropolitan region.

Much has changed since the policy plan was adopted in 2005, and OKI is re-visiting some strategic issues and considering others for the first time. In the process, OKI is inviting public feedback through a brief questionnaire that takes about five minutes to complete. The questionnaire can be found at the initiative’s website which will be available until the end of the year.

The 2005 Strategic Regional Policy Plan contains a 20-year vision for regional vitality, sustainability, and competitiveness, focusing on the land use–transportation connection. The strategic planning process addressed four questions: Where are we as a region? Where are we going given current trends? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

Six strategic subject areas were selected to focus planning to achieve the overall regional vision: transportation, public facilities and services, natural systems or resources, housing, economic development and land use. Experts and stakeholders in all of these areas were involved in the original planning effort along with OKI’s board, peer reviewers, and the public. The resulting plan called for public-private sector partnerships and recommended actions by OKI, local governments, and by both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

“As we talk with officials around the tri-state area about economic competitiveness issues, we constantly hear about the ongoing need to address certain issues at a regional level,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “We have a strong partnership with OKI and appreciate the regional perspective its staff brings to our efforts in Kenton County.”

While much has been accomplished since the plan’s adoption in 2005, much remains to be done to reach its goals and new issues have arisen with some urgency. For example, the plan is currently being revisited to consider the impacts of subsequent events like the Great Recession, the housing foreclosure crisis, and significant changes in regional demographics and expectations as baby boomers retire and more millennials affect the regional work force.

The current How Do We Grow From Here? campaign and public questionnaire are designed to provide OKI with direction while revisiting the plan’s strategic regional issues. Future opportunities for gathering additional public input will be scheduled and announced at www.HowDoWeGrow.org.

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