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Entries for 2012

Erlanger signs zoning district contract

Posted on October 26, 2012
In August 2012, the City of Erlanger appointed a steering committee comprised of stakeholders to implement new form-based zoning regulations along Commonwealth Avenue on the east side of I-71/75. The city recognizes the potential for redevelopment in the project area and it is the desire of the city council to establish a vision for future development by examining and utilizing input from property owners, stakeholders, and general public in an effort to better market the area for development proposals which will better utilize the land to its highest and best use. The project has been given the name “Commonwealth Station”.

Form-based zoning regulations differ from conventional zoning in a number of ways. Form-based codes foster predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. They are regulations, not mere guidelines, adopted into city or county law. Form-based codes offer a powerful alternative to conventional zoning.

Form-based zoning Conventional zoning

Create mixed-use districts
Allow a variety of permitted uses
Make it possible to walk to parks, shops, schools
Reduces land consumption
Streets designed for pedestrians
Increases efficiency of transit
Variety of housing options
Increase and regulate density
Defaults to walkable urbanism
Dispersed uses with a few distinct centers
Spatial separation of key daily activities
Excessive car travel between uses
Excessive land consumption
Streets designed for cars rather than people
No convenient, cost effective transit
Limited choice in housing supply
Fear of density
Default to suburban, auto-dependent development

Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in form-based codes are presented in both words and clearly drawn diagrams and other visuals. They are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development, rather than only distinctions in land-use types.

This approach contrasts with conventional zoning's focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g., floor area ratio, dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, traffic level of service), to the neglect of an integrated built form. Not to be confused with design guidelines or general statements of policy, form-based codes are regulatory, not advisory. They are drafted to implement a community plan. The goal is to try to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism. Ultimately, a form-based code is a tool; the quality of development outcomes depends on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code implements.

The vision will be determined by a design charrette, a very intense two-day design process that is open to the public. As ideas are generated, drawings, sketches, and computer graphics are generated to visually display potential scenarios. As the charrette continues, the vision becomes more and more refined until a final vision is realized. It will then be up to a steering committee that has been appointed by the City of Erlanger to work with this vision and to craft regulations that will best implement the vision.

The City of Erlanger signed a contract with NKAPC for staff to facilitate the process of developing form-based zoning regulations. Under the contract, the city will be responsible for funding the project, which includes NKAPC staff and resources. This contract represents one of the last contracts where a 75 percent discount for all NKAPC costs is offered.

For more information or to provide comments, please email Andy Videkovich at avidekovich(at)nkapc.org.

OKI Regional Policy Survey

Posted on October 26, 2012
The OKI Regional Council of Governments is updating a strategic policy plan in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana, and they want to hear from you about your opinons. OKI’s original policy plan aimed to improve quality of life and service to the public in the region. Much has changed since the plan was adopted in 2005. With this update, OKI is re-visiting some strategic issues and considering others for the first time, and is inviting public feedback through a brief questionnaire that takes about 5 minutes to complete. The questionnaire can be found at howdowegrow.org and will be available until the end of the year.

Comp plan’s Goals and Objectives

Posted on October 25, 2012
Meetings with the public, small groups, elected officials, task forces and cities have been the focus of planners working on the Direction 2030 project for the past year. Approximately 65 input sessions have been held to date - an unprecedented amount of public engagement for comprehensive planning efforts in Kenton County. The collected input is currently being analyzed and used in the preparation of the statement of goals and objectives (G&Os) which serves as the guide for policies and implementation measures in the comprehensive plan.

The first statement of goals and objectives for Kenton County were prepared during the adoption of the first comprehensive plan in 1972. The G&Os while reviewed every five years has essentially remained the same for the last 40 years. The economic and demographic changes of the last decade have necessitated the review and rework of these goals and objectives. As part of the Direction 2030: Your Voice Your Choice project, a joint task force of about 30 members has reviewed and discussed broad goal concepts based on their varied expertise and more importantly public input. These broad goal concepts are currently being transformed into countywide goals and objectives.

Public engagement has been the focus of the Direction 2030 effort and will continue to be through the G&Os phase. A public work session will be held on Wednesday, November 7, from 6-8 p.m. at the Blessed Sacrament Church, 2407 Dixie Highway in Fort Mitchell. A draft of the G&Os will be presented to the attendees for their comments. Additional focused small group meetings with interested organizations is also being planned prior to and as part of the work session. Input received at this work session will be used to revise the G&Os and will be presented the following week at a capstone meeting on Monday, November 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Community Christian School located at 11875 Taylor Mill Road in Independence.

 “This is a critical step in the planning process. This is the phase when we strive to achieve a common set of goals and objectives that Kenton County residents and elected officials can embrace as one vision for the county,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director.

Following the public review of the G&Os they will be submitted to the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC). The KCPC will send the draft G&Os to each of the 19 Kenton County legislative bodies. State law gives each of the legislative bodies 90 days to review the G&Os and decide on actions. The KCPC will then hold a public hearing prior to considering adoption of the G&Os into the Direction 2030 plan. This process, including the 90-day review period, is expected to take five months beginning in January 2013.

Additional information on these meetings will be available on the project website, direction2030.org.

FY13 budget continues downward trend

Posted on July 20, 2012
NKAPC’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 is built on a number of growing trends related to both revenues and expenditures for the organization. Those trends were highlighted for city and county elected officials last month during the discussion that led to them approving it.

According to Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director, the organization’s new fiscal year budget “is the result of the most inclusive budget process we’ve ever had.” Gordon cited nine public meetings of elected and appointed officials to substantiate his assertion. In the end, all agreed that the budget had been thoroughly vetted.

Among the many trends illustrated for elected officials was an overall decrease in the budget’s bottom line. “This new fiscal year budget approximates the bottom line of our Fiscal Year 2005-2006 budget,” said Gordon. “It also represents well over a $1 million decrease in the organization’s budget since our Fiscal Year 2007-2008 high.”  Click to view Chart: Budget

Of that total decrease, close to half of it came from tax revenues which have also trended downward since 2009. Gordon attributed that fact to local elected officials’ action to control tax revenues, explaining that the 2012-2013 budget is the third consecutive year that city and county elected officials have trimmed the total tax dollars that fund NKAPC.  Click to view Chart: Taxes
Both non-discretionary and discretionary expenditures are trending downward as well. The organization’s new fiscal year budget represents over half a million dollars in cuts to non-discretionary line items since the Fiscal Year 2007-2008 high. Cuts to discretionary line items represent over $1 million since the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 high.  Click to view Chart: Non-descretionary Spending, Click to view Chart: Descretionary Spending
The new fiscal year budget shows an equally-dramatic downward trend in NKAPC employment. Where the Fiscal Year 2006-2007 budget provided for 52 staff members, the new budget funds 36. According to Gordon, “that puts us approximately where we were in Fiscal Year 2002-2003—a close to 31 percent drop since our high six years ago.” Click to view Chart: Staffing Levels

Among other downward trends illustrated in NKAPC’s new fiscal year budget is the amount spent on employee healthcare coverage.

“It would be easy to assume that the downward trend in our healthcare costs was driven by our declining employment numbers,” Gordon says. “That’s not entirely the case. We hit our employment high in Fiscal Year 2006-2007 and our insurance coverage cost high in Fiscal Year 2009-2010 when we employed seven less people.”

Gordon asserts this trend is directly attributable to an internal committee of staff members that works with administrators to keep costs down. “This group holds one of the most thankless jobs of any of our internal staff committees,” he said. “These members do their homework every year and provide a real benefit when it comes to making decisions on how to keep health costs under control.” Click to view Chart: Health Care Costs

The executive director points to the obvious when asked to what these downward trends can be attributed.

“It’s no secret that NKAPC has been under an intense microscope for the past 13 or 14 months. While it hasn’t always been enjoyable, it’s been useful in a number of ways,” he suggests. “There’s no question we’re a better organization as a result of having been under that microscope.”

“It would be a great disservice, however, to conclude that the downward trends illustrated in this new budget are totally attributable to the recent and intense review. Make no mistake; it’s had an impact in a number of areas. But, to assign all the credit to those who’ve been part of this review process would overlook the fact that each of these trends began well before last year.”

NKAPC is overseen by a group of seven individuals who meet regularly to assure that direction provided by the community’s elected officials is being followed. The organization’s budget and the tax rate that funds a majority of it are reviewed and approved annually by these elected officials as required by law.

NKAPC provides professional staff support to the Kenton County Planning Commission. It also supports a majority of the county’s 20 local jurisdictions as their planning, engineering, and building staff. And, it serves as managing partner and provides the central hub and staffing for the multi-county LINK-GIS partnerships.

LINK-GIS staff invited to speak at national conference

Posted on July 20, 2012
The work accomplished by three NKAPC GIS staff will be featured at the 2012 ESRI International User Conference this July.  Billed as ‘The Biggest GIS Event on Earth,’ this 27th annual conference will bring together over 16,000 GIS users and company executives from over 140 countries.

The conference will provide those in attendance an opportunity to connect with other GIS users and attend technical training sessions, including those classes to be taught by NKAPC staff.

Christy Powell, GISP, one of NKAPC’s GIS programmers, will represent NKAPC and the LINK-GIS partnership in presenting a session entitled ‘Citizen Engagement in Public Works.’ Powell’s presentation will include staff’s experience working with Kenton County's public works department to develop a website that will provide information about the status of county-maintained roads during winter weather events.

“We thought it would be a good topic because of the budgetary effects of snow removal and its impact on local budgets,” Powell said. “I’ll show the benefits to citizens and public works officials to be able to view roads that are treated and ready for daily traffic loads.”

Ryan Kent, GISP, one of NKAPC’s GIS specialists, will represent NKAPC and the LINK-GIS partnership in presenting a conference session entitled ‘Geo referencing (defining a location on a paper map within a map projection) Historic Maps for Today’s Issues’. Kent’s presentation will include staff working with Kenton County's public works department to deliver historical topography information dating back to 1920 or 1930 on a potential brownfield (abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use) site.

“This shows how data from the past can be joined with present day information to make better decisions.” Kent said. “Not only did public works officials get the information they wanted, but they also received it within a day of requesting it.”

The third presenter is Trisha Brush, GISP, NKAPC’s director of GIS administration.  She will present a session entitled ‘I See Dead People: Mapping Underground Assets of Cemeteries.’  Brush’s presentation includes the trials and tribulations of taking local cemetery data from old cemetery record books and converting them to digital records.

LINK-GIS is a collaborative electronic mapping partnership managed by the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission on behalf of Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, the Kenton and Campbell County PVAs, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and Sanitation District 1 of Northern Kentucky.

Long-time NKAPC planner set to retire

Posted on July 20, 2012
On August 1st Keith Logsdon, AICP, NKAPC’s long-range planning director, begins to implement retirement plans he and his wife made over the course of his 37-year career. That’s a lot of time spent working with citizens and elected and appointed officials to plan their communities’ futures and helping to implement visions from those plans.

“I’m really happy that Keith is able to take this step in his life,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, NKAPC’s executive director. “He’ll really be missed and leave some large shoes to fill.”

Logsdon started with NKAPC in August 1990. His responsibilities during those early days included working on comprehensive plan updates for Campbell County cities, reports for the Kenton County Planning Commission, zoning administration, managing co-op students from UC, and assisting with efforts to establish tree boards and the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council. Prior to relocating to Northern Kentucky, Logsdon was employed as a planner by a consulting firm in Lexington, the Hopkins County Joint Planning Commission, and the City of Winchester/Clark County. Immediately before coming to NKAPC he served as planning director for the City of Frankfort from 1984 to 1990.

Logsdon left NKAPC in 2001 to pursue work in the private sector with Wilbur Smith Associates in Cincinnati. His appreciation for the challenges of the public sector and the creation of a long-range planning function brought him back to NKAPC in 2003 when he assumed the role of long-range planning director. His nine-year stint in that position was highlighted by a comprehensive plan update in 2006 and the crafting of seven small area studies for specific areas of Kenton County where change is either anticipated or desired. He was also responsible for the beginning of Direction 2030, the first all-new comprehensive plan for Kenton County since 1972.

“We accomplished a lot,” said Logsdon and added quickly, “and those accomplishments leave a lot yet to be done. Crafting and guiding the community’s future takes a lot of effort.”

“Part of Keith’s legacy here as long-range planning director will be the absolute need for citizens and stakeholders to play a major role in the creation of long-range plans,” said Gordon. “As planners, we’re taught the value of citizen involvement. One benefit of small area studies is their capacity to involve citizens in planning for the future of their neighborhoods. For Keith this was something more than just a lesson learned. He truly walked the walk.”

Logsdon is quick to respond when asked if he plans to exit the public arena as he looks forward to more personal challenges. “No… I plan to stay in touch with what’s going on and to remain active in community issues and conversations. My wife, Catherine and I look forward to spending more time together but we know the importance of community. After all, this is still home,” he said.

When asked to reflect on challenging times and lessons learned, Logsdon thought a minute and turned to the petition effort that dogged NKAPC through a good part of last year. “I think our detractors strengthened us as an organization—the Area Planning Council, the Area Planning Commission, the Kenton County Planning Commission, and the professional staff. We’re all better and stronger for having been through the fires of public controversy.”

NKAPC’s long-range planning director position will not be filled when Logsdon retires. Instead, the agency’s long-range planning functions are being incorporated into a new Department of Planning and Zoning Administration. Martin Scribner, AICP, will head the combined department and Sharmili Reddy, AICP, will assist as planning manager.

Independence zoning update is sent to city council

Posted on July 20, 2012
On June 7th before the Kenton County Planning Commission, two of three proposed zoning districts received positive recommendations from Commission members. Those proposed districts have now been sent back to Independence City Council for final action, bringing the nearly two-year process close to completion.

A steering committee of citizens was appointed in late 2009 by Independence City Council to implement recommendations of the Independence Community Small Area Study. These recommendations were adopted by the city council and the Kenton County Planning Commission in 2007. The planning commission’s action incorporated the study’s contents into the Kenton County comprehensive plan.

The appointed steering committee met close to monthly for a year and a half 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 steering committee presented its recommendations to the Independence City Council over the first few months of 2012, one district at a time. Those recommendations included the following three new zoning districts:
•    DI/Downtown Independence Zone
•    CD-SF/Conservation Development Single-Family Overlay Zone
•    GMU/Gateway Mixed Use Zone

The public hearing, which included the presentation of both maps and text for the Downtown Independence Zone and the Conservation Development Single-Family Overlay Zone, was well attended by Independence residents and business owners. Much of the testimony, however, was in opposition to the proposed zoning updates.

Many of the residents claimed that the regulations should remain as they currently are; some even stating, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Many also said they did not feel like they had had adequate input during the process.

The Gateway Mixed Use Zone is expected to be discussed in further detail by the Independence City Council before sending it to the KCPC in the near future.

“Our committee worked diligently to reach consensus on these recommendations. Our process was open and included two public forum opportunities for community input. The public input definitely influenced our final recommendations and I think helped create a better end product,” said Rodney Crice, a citizen member of the steering committee. A detailed report of changes made by the committee based on public input can be found at the NKAPC website.

Crice concludes that he is pleased with the final recommendations. “If council approves the new zoning codes, we will have achieved a primary goal for implementing and realizing the small area study recommendations.”

New energy code coming for residential construction

Posted on July 20, 2012
The Commonwealth of Kentucky adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code  in late 2010 with a mandatory enforcement date of June 6, 2011 for commercial applications. The process for residential applications wasn’t so easy.

The Board of Housing required numerous studies to be performed. A small committee made up of home builders, mechanical contractors, energy specialists, and code officials was assigned the task of putting a value on the differences between the 2006 and 2009 codes. After the information was gathered and provided, the Board of Housing approved the 2009 edition, which becomes mandatory on October 1, 2012.

Adoption of the new code includes new inspection requirements. “We’re starting now to perform energy inspections for residential homes. This means there will be an additional insulation inspection after the framing inspection. We’ll also need to bring back the requirement for single-family slab inspections,” said Brian Sims, CBO, NKAPC’s chief building official.

Secondly, there is the need for training and education. The Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction (DHBC) and the Code Administers Association of Kentucky (CAAK) collaborated to provide six CEUs to builders, designers, and code officials who completed the training. Instead of using outside instructors, DHBC and CAAK selected a few employees to be co-facilitators for these classes. The goal was to produce a comfortable interactive session for all of the participants.

Trainer education started in December. Jeff Bechtold, Senior Building Official with NKAPC, was one of the CAAK members to participate in this training. “It was quite a surprise and honor to be selected from such an educated membership,” Bechtold stated.

The three-person teams taught at least three of the scheduled ten one-day classes, located in eight cities across the state to facilitate participation and reduce the overall travel for attendees.

The Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky also asked Bechtold to provide its members with training on June 19th.

Two forums in July move Direction 2030 forward

Posted on July 20, 2012
The majority of respondents to a recent public meeting keypad survey chose employment as the element that needs the most improvement locally. Based on that consensus, economic competitiveness will be the focus of the next public meeting scheduled for July 25th from 6-8 p.m. at Simon Kenton High School in Independence.

Fifty-five percent of respondents selected jobs as the most important local issue when compared to shops and amenities, outdoor recreation, housing options, and education. The desire for better employment was also articulated in small group discussions. At almost every meeting citizens have expressed strong concerns about good jobs for youth as an incentive to stay in the area.

A portion of the meeting will include a discussion amongst panelists after which the public will have a chance to ask questions or make comments—a similar format to the June 14th public forum on healthy communities. A summary of that session is posted on the project's website.

In addition, a forum specifically for elected officials from Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions will be held on July 19th at the Edgewood Senior Center.  That session will discuss specific county-wide and city issues.

Both meetings will further the conversation on policies that can be addressed in the Kenton County Comprehensive Plan: housing; land use; transportation; environment; and, community facilities. Preparation of the plan's goals and objectives is anticipated to begin in September after the conclusion of this second round of public meetings.

OneStopShop offers elec. inspections

Posted on June 30, 2012
In 2005, NKAPC hired their first electrical inspector as a way of streamlining their One Stop Shop program. Soon afterward, two more inspectors were hired to meet the needs of the customers. This continued until the economic crash hit in 2008-09, and like many other companies and government entities NKAPC was forced to look at cutbacks, including personnel.

In early 2010, NKAPC sought to privatize their electrical inspections as a way of saving money and still fulfilling their obligations set forth from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction in Frankfort.

After an RFQ process, Inspections Bureau Inc. (IBI) was awarded a two-year contract on July 5, 2010. NKAPC issued the permits, while IBI performed the inspections within NKAPC jurisdictions and collected fees for their work.

To ensure NKAPC’s customers kept receiving the best service possible, another RFQ sent out near the end of the contract with IBI. The process included the same style of qualifications as before but with one big change; the requirements for online applications, inspection scheduling and status updates on inspections.

NKAPC received three responses to the RFQ by the May 18, 2012 deadline; Inspections Bureau Inc, Electric Inspections, and NEC Inspections and Education.

On June 25, 2012, the NKAPCommission will approve and sign the contracts of the approved recipients who have demonstrated they meet the criterion set before them. Electrical contractors/homeowners will be able to choose between any of the awarded inspection firms for their electrical inspection needs.

Permits will still be issued from the NKAPC’s office on a walk-in/walk-out basis. Once the permit has been issued and work has started, the customer will have the option to choose from any approved, contracted firm to conduct the inspections.

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