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Entries for 2014

PDS Board awards contract to Heritage Bank following RFP review

Posted on December 26, 2014
After reviewing four proposals for banking services to PDS for calendar years 2015 through 2017, PDS Management Board members voted unanimously last week to pursue a contract with Heritage Bank, according to the terms proposed by that contract.

“Heritage Bank was aggressive with its proposal this time,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “We calculate the difference to be roughly $1500 for the contract period. “And, while that might not seem like a lot, every bit counts when budgets are tight.”

Taskforce to review building permit fees, suggest changes for FY 2016

Posted on December 26, 2014
PDS’ One Stop Shop codes administration program will celebrate its tenth anniversary this coming June. As part of the agency’s look back and look forward for this popular service program, its FY15 annual work program calls for the creation of a taskforce to review fees charged by the program to pay for the services provided.

An 11-member group met this past week to begin the process of reviewing the fees along with a number of other issues specific to the program. Included among those issues are the following.

Mixed use buildings were a novel idea when the current fees schedule was created; that’s not the case today. How should PDS’ fee schedule respond to projects including mixed uses in the same building?
  • The current fee schedule is the result of adjusting the base fee schedule adopted on the inception of One Stop Shop on an annual basis with the percentage increase tied to the consumer price index promulgated each year by the Kentucky Department for Local Government. The taskforce will be asked to provide its opinion on that policy.
  • Should homeowners planning to do their own work be charged the same amount as a professional hired to do the same work?
  • Some have suggested that remodeling/rehabbing projects should be charged a lower permit and inspection fee since: (a) the base fee schedule was created with new construction in mind; (b) remodeling/rehabbing projects generally include less work than new construction projects; and (c) PDS should be encouraging remodeling/rehabbing. The taskforce will be asked to provide its opinion on this question.

Those agreeing to serve on the taskforce include: Tony Kreutzjans, Orleans Development; John Toebben, the Toebben Company; Bob Schroder, Arlinghaus Builders; Larry Klein, Covington City Manager; Jeanne Schroer, Catalytic Fund of Covington; Chris Moriconi, Independence city administrator; Chris Meyer, Covington architect; Paul Meier, Crestview Hills mayor; Josh Gunther, the Drees Company; Amanda Igo, Fischer Homes; and Chuck Eilerman, Covington Commissioner.

“I’m pleased with the caliber people we were able to enlist for this important review,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “I hope their work will stand the test of time as well as did their predecessors’ work completed in 2005.”

Gordon hopes the taskforce can have their review and recommendations complete by next March.

Dixie Fix Committee gears up for infusion of newly-elected officials

Posted on December 26, 2014
Nearly ten years ago, PDS and OKI embarked on a collaborative study to plan for the future of Dixie Highway. This plan, which came to be known as the Dixie Fix, examined the corridor in Boone and Kenton Counties and provided recommendations for long range congestion mitigation, improved access, and increased safety. During the approvals phase of the project, each of the ten jurisdictions in the study area adopted the plan, signifying the importance of this main route through Northern Kentucky.

Realizing a plan’s vision takes the dedication and hard work of numerous people. The Dixie Fix has been fortunate in that the corridor has benefitted from the guidance of an oversight team since the plan’s official adoption. This team, comprised of representatives from jurisdictions within the study area and associated technical groups, has worked to bring the plan’s recommendations forward to fruition. Most recently the plan guided a $75,000 pavement/paver/sidewalk project in Elsmere and realignment of the Dixie and Garvey intersection, which resulted in one less traffic signal.

Soon the study group will reconvene to discuss progress on implementing the plan, focus on opportunities for 2015, and welcome new people to the team.

“After the results of the last election were finalized there were some newly-elected officials and city administrators serving cities along the corridor,” said James Fausz, AICP, principal planner with PDS. “We’re looking forward to them meeting with the team and welcoming their participation.”

The team will meet later this winter to discuss the plan and work towards new projects to implement. If you would like to learn more about the Dixie Fix project please refer to the plan’s website.

KY 536 to be studied for new alignment and recommended land uses

Posted on December 26, 2014
A major widening of the KY 536 corridor from the Boone County Line to KY 17 has been planned for at least a decade and will provide much needed east/west connectivity to that portion of Kenton County. Extending that corridor to the Licking River and ultimately to US 27 in Campbell County is the focus of a scoping study initiated earlier this month by OKI and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

That 6.5-mile segment of KY 536 is the only remaining section of the entire corridor that does not have a preferred alternative or improvement plan in place.

“According to Transportation Cabinet officials, this segment was left until last because of its fragmented connections, drastic elevation changes, poor sight lines, broad range of environmental factors, and, most importantly, extremely high crash rates,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director.

“The crash rate for this segment of 536 is almost 3.4 times the statewide average for similar roadways across the Commonwealth. This means that drivers are more than three times as likely to have an accident on this stretch of road when compared to other similar roadways in Kentucky.”
This scoping study has been undertaken by OKI on behalf of the entire region to identify improvements that are needed to improve safety.

“We’re committed to making improvements that meet existing and future needs of the traveling public and the urban and rural communities KY 536 serves,” said Robyn Bancroft, AICP, project manager for the study at OKI.

“We are currently in the first phase of the study—data collection and analysis. Safety is our primary concern; however, traffic volumes are also being analyzed to determine not just what is needed today to make the corridor safer, but what will be needed in the future.”

This first phase of the study will identify the problems of the roadway and form the foundation upon which the study’s improvement alternatives will be drafted for public review. As the study progresses, additional information will be posted on the study’s webpage.

The KY 536 Scoping Study itself will not involve new or altered land use plans or zoning amendments for the corridor. That is a separate process. PDS planners will begin working with University of Cincinnati planning students next month to examine the potential impact that expansion of KY 536 will have on adjacent neighborhoods and communities.

This separate PDS project, which is being funded by a grant from the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation, will study how the expansion of KY 536 will impact adjacent land uses. Students will document the existing conditions, explore primary planning elements (mobility, land use, environment, community facilities/utilities, concept map, economy, and housing), and address the potential for economic development, nodes of activity, connectivity, and community character.

A key component of the project will be to engage the public in these discussions, with a number of different opportunities being explored. The third year undergraduate studio work will conclude in April.

“The widening of 536 is critical to the continued economic stability of Independence,” said Chris Moriconi, Independence City Administrator. “In particular, [the KY 536 improvement project] will provide a much needed east/west corridor for our residents and businesses by providing a safe and improved corridor to  I-75.”

“This will provide a unique experience for the UC students and for PDS,” said Andy Videkovich, AICP, senior planner at PDS and project manager for this study. “The students will get to work with a number of different agencies and jurisdictions to see how they coordinate large multi-jurisdictional projects. PDS will be able to tap into the energy and enthusiasm that the students will bring and use their work to further plan for the region.”

“It’s not very often that we get to plan for a roadway corridor like this,” concluded Gordon. “Looking at transportation and land usage at the same time is the way this is supposed to be done—and everyone benefits. Unfortunately, timing rarely work out like it will with these two efforts.”

New seven-minute video production tells the PDS story on YouTube

Posted on December 26, 2014
An updated video about PDS and the services it provides is available now for online viewing on YouTube. The seven-minute presentation is part of a growing library of PDS documents and images.

This project was produced as a way of explaining, as the video says, “who we are and what we do.” It includes examples of staff members conducting business, animated graphics, and many current and historical photos.  

Click here to watch our video and learn more about PDS.

Independence disbands adjustment and code enforcement boards

Posted on December 26, 2014
Following the decision by its City Council to join the PDS One Stop Shop program, the City of Independence has dissolve its Board of Adjustment and Code Enforcement Board in favor of joining the respective Kenton County boards.
Many of the cities in Kenton County find it difficult to maintain their own boards for several reasons. Keeping the appointed members on these boards can be problematic because of the thankless nature of the job, the time commitment, plus the requirement of ongoing planning education.

Many of the smaller communities in Kenton County have an ongoing problem finding volunteers, not to mention keeping those appointees compliant with the state-mandated education requirements. There is also a cost incurred by each city to support those boards in the way of staff costs, attorney fees, notification fees, and stipends to the board members.

Fortunately, cities have an alternative in the way of joining the boards that are maintained by Kenton County and PDS. These boards carry no costs to the cities themselves beyond the regular One Stop Shop program costs. For the board of adjustment, if a city chooses to dissolve its board, their community automatically becomes a participant in the Kenton County Board of Adjustment, for which, application fees and the Fiscal Court carry the cost.

The Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is enabled by an interlocal agreement between the participating local governments and supported by PDS and the fines collected by the board. Each participating government appoints one member to the board. The participating cities have not only eliminated the difficulty of managing the board and its members, but also see a real cost savings as well, which can be passed along to residents.

The added advantage to these boards is that, considering the small nature of many of the Kenton County cities, the county-wide boards offer a more diverse makeup and the reduced likelihood of a member actually knowing an applicant appearing before them, a relatively common occurrence in many of Kenton County’s cities.

“While our local BoA and CEB have done an outstanding job over the years, it became more cost effective to utilize the county boards when we opted to go with the One Stop Shop,” said Independence Mayor-Elect Chris Reinersman. “In addition, Independence is hopeful that, by virtue of the greater number of cases heard and frequency of meetings, board members will benefit from a broader knowledge base and level of objectivity.”

Independence has taken the necessary steps to utilize the Kenton County Board of Adjustment immediately and to participate in the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board beginning in January.

Direction2030.org provides interactive maps for those with questions

Posted on December 01, 2014
Direction 2030, Kenton County’s first completely new comprehensive plan since 1972 and PDS’ first completely digital comprehensive plan was adopted three months ago. If you haven’t yet visited the website, take a few minutes to learn more about the vision for the community and interact with the electronic plan.

The online format allows users to navigate easily through the entire comprehensive plan in a way that was not possible previously using a hardcopy plan.

One of the more exciting features incorporated with the Direction 2030 website is the addition of interactive maps that correspond with the plan’s different elements. Each map was customized to incorporate geographic features important to the element of the comprehensive plan they are supporting. Users can navigate in and around Kenton County and simply click on features in the map to find out more information.

The Direction 2030 website marks the first time PDS has incorporated interactive mapping directly into an adopted plan or study. PDS has used similar technology in the past on the LINK-GIS website. This new approach, however, combines new mapping technology with a completely digital plan. The final product enables planners to reach a broader audience and empower the people of Kenton County to learn more about what the comprehensive plan means to them and their community.
“Our primary goal with the web-based plan was to use the power of technology to create a user-friendly experience for a plan that can otherwise be daunting,” explained Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager for PDS and project manager for the comprehensive plan. “For instance, if you’re interested in learning more about the location of parks in the Community Facilities element of the plan, you can use the map feature, zoom into different areas, and get more information about the park, all on the same page.”

While users can view the embedded map with the associated text, there are more features just a click away. A link to a larger interactive map is available under the embedded maps on the website. Clicking the link for the larger interactive map opens a full screen sized map that not only provides the user a larger view but also offers the ability to turn layers on and off and measure features on the map.
In total there are ten interactive maps embedded in the comprehensive plan that include topics ranging from Environment to the Economy and everything in between.  

Visit www.direction2030.org to interact with the maps and learn more about Kenton County’s revolutionary new plan.

Delivery of GIS data provides community with tree canopy inventory

Posted on December 01, 2014
A recent grant from the USDA Forest Service through the Kentucky Division of Forestry to the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council has provided LINK-GIS partners with high resolution data on tree cover. SavATree, in collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory, mapped Northern Kentucky’s land cover.

“We’re pleased to receive these new data,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS executive director and managing partner of the LINK-GIS partnerships. “This collaborative effort with Northern Kentucky’s Urban and Community Forestry Council will be extremely helpful to PDS and our GIS partners as more and more emphasis is focused on air and water quality issues.”

The project succeeded in mapping land cover for Northern Kentucky with a high level of accuracy. The project was able to achieve its goals by leveraging existing data provided by LINK-GIS. The 7-class land cover will be useful for producing tree canopy and land cover metrics. The percent of forest was broken down for each city, watershed, block group, and even down to the parcel level.

Tree canopy data is now available on the base map of the LINK-GIS website. Questions should be addressed to the GIS staff at PDS.

Residential street construction increases since end of the recession

Posted on December 01, 2014
Subdivision development and new street construction during 2014 showed an increase over 2013 and a dramatic increase when compared to levels of activity only a few years ago. What’s more, even with a colder than normal fall the activity is expected to continue late into the year.

“There’s always the risk that street construction will slow down or stop when temperatures drop sooner than expected. But as long as they remain above freezing we know of at least two developments that are working toward adding more street before the end of the year,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, director of PDS’ infrastructure engineering department.

Subdivisions in unincorporated Kenton County and the cities of Erlanger, Covington, and Independence all saw new street construction in 2014. The majority of streets were located in the City of Independence.  

“We haven’t seen this level of street construction since well before the recession,” said Hiles. “In looking back through our records, the amount of new street that was constructed this year quadrupled the amount we saw constructed just four years ago, and we’re not finished yet.”

Staff is also seeing signs that the upward trend in subdivision development will likely continue. In 2014 over 200 new lots were proposed and approved along new streets. In a few cases, construction was started this year on those new subdivisions but in no cases were any of these developments completed.

“Because we had more lots and street approved this year than was completed, we’re confident that this will carry over to next year and mean a busy 2015,” said Hiles.

One reason in particular to recognize the increase in street construction is its relation to the new subdivision regulations that are currently being written.

“A primary focus of the new regulations is better, longer lasting streets,” said Hiles. “It’s important to get these new regulations adopted so that all of the benefits to the community that they’ll bring can be incorporated into these new subdivisions.”

Hiles said that staff is continuing to work with a committee of engineers to reach consensus on a final recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“Everyone is in agreement with most of the important issues. We’re working to finalize the last of the outstanding items and tie up some loose ends at this point. We understand the importance of getting the process finished but more important is making sure the regulations are enforceable in the way staff needs them to be.”

Hiles said that he is confident that the new regulations will be finished and adopted by the planning commission before the beginning of the 2015 development season.

PDS to provide required continuing education for boards of adjustment

Posted on November 06, 2014

In an effort to make it as easy as possible for board of adjustment members to stay current with state-mandated continuing education, PDS staff and Louisville area attorney, David Pike, will host a four-hour training session at 8 AM on November 1st. The training will be provided at the PDS offices in Fort Mitchell.

This is part of an ongoing effort to support Kenton County city boards and provide training free of cost to their appointed members.

State law requires that members of planning commissions, boards of adjustment, and professional planners throughout the commonwealth pursue continuing education on an annual basis. This training is being geared toward new board members and as a refresher for members whose boards don’t meet regularly.

“We will be covering the role and responsibilities of the board of adjustment and its members,” said Martin Scribner, AICP, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration for PDS. “We will go over possible legal issues and case studies for each one of the four types of issues the boards are authorized to decide.”

Board of adjustment members typically meet a few times a year when they have applications for conditional use permits, variances, appeals of administrator decisions, and to approve applications for changes from one non-conforming use to another.

The PDS-sponsored training will provide four hours of required orientation credit for new members and half of the required credit existing members need for a two-year term.

TBNK personnel will videotape the training session for any members not in attendance. Scribner stated, “We usually have a pretty good turnout and plan to provide a DVD of the session to all of the municipalities in Kenton County.”

PDS also hosts regular continuing education webinars on varying subjects that are provided by groups such as the American Planning Association.

In the past, this training has been well attended. “We do it free of charge,” said Scribner. “It can be expensive to send board members to training around the region, so we’re happy to serve our communities and do it locally.”

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