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Entries for 2014

Staff develop app for collection of field data using GIS

Posted on February 26, 2014
Integrating field-collected data seamlessly into the LINK-GIS system has been a long-held goal for NKAPC staff members. Now, new software from Esri gives GIS department members the ability to roll out applications to anyone with a smartphone or tablet with GPS capabilities.

Christy Powell, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS programmer has created two projects to show how this capability can be utilized. The first project is a bike and pedestrian count application for the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department. This application will be used during the semi-annual audit in May of this year.

The second project is a building damage assessment application. During an emergency situation this application would be used to collect information such as number of people affected, contact names, and extent of damage. Since this information is stored in the cloud, even if the NKAPC building was affecting during a disaster, the maps and data would still be available. Another advantage of the application being in the cloud is that in a large disaster, inspectors from outside NKAPC would have access to the data.

In addition to geographic and tabular data, the user can capture photos and video tied to the location. The application also has built-in routing and directions.

“I’ve shown this application to people who collected building damage assessments in the past and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Powell. “We are currently working from a template provided by Esri. With input from building inspectors over the next few weeks, we will be refining the database to better meet NKAPC’s needs.”

The GIS staff has been showing this capability internally and externally over the past month. Several groups have expressed interest in creating projects. Steve Lilly, NKAPC’s land surveying analyst, says, “I’m working with the GIS department to create a survey control monument reconnaissance application. The way we collected this data in the past did not tie the photos to the field data. This system will save us time in the field, streamline our process, and cut out data entry errors.”

The ArcGIS Collector application is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market).  This application is free to download and has sample data from Esri available. A username and password provided by NKAPC are needed to connect with maps published by NKAPC and begin collecting data.

GIS staff creating updated, multi-use address database

Posted on February 26, 2014
“Ever searched for a needle in a haystack? It’s a very tedious process if you don’t have a magnet!” That is the metaphor Tom East, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS specialist, used to describe the process of finding addresses for the multi-purpose address database being built and maintained for use of LINK-GIS partners and emergency dispatch officials.

Although it may seem simple enough to compile a list of known addresses, many problems arise. Sources of the data may record addresses and road names in different ways. For example, MEADOWLARK DR and MEADOW LARK RD may actually refer to the same street, but people may have spelled and abbreviated them differently in their organization. On the other hand, they could also be two entirely different streets.

“It’s our job to resolve these discrepancies and list them as single road names or as separate road names as the case may be,” says East. “The same principle applies to individual addresses along a street.”

GIS staff has used multiple sources in building this address database. Parcel data, utility service address data, and even Google streetview scenes in a few cases, have been used to determine which addresses should be added to the database.

“One of the difficulties is that each source has a large overlap or duplication along with a smaller percentage of unique new addresses that may not be found in other sources. For example, parcel data may list a single address for a property, but utility records could list multiple unique addresses for service on that parcel.”

This fact highlights another issue – that of diminishing returns. Each source must be filtered to eliminate addresses that have been compiled already, while gleaning new ones that might be present. Eventually the number of new addresses discovered by sifting through another source begins to fall flat. Fewer and fewer new addresses can be discovered this way. The most difficult cases may require fieldwork, but as East points out, “We try to use every other affordable means before resorting to fieldwork since it is more costly, both time wise and monetarily.”

Once built, the database becomes a dynamic repository of address information that can be used for multiple purposes. Old addresses are never deleted. Instead they are marked as retired and new ones are always being added.

Recent KCPC departures take 30 years along

Posted on February 26, 2014
The terms of two long-term members of the Kenton County Planning Commission ended recently. The departures of Commissioners Barbara Carlin of Ryland Heights and Jim Cook of unincorporated Kenton County took with them 30 years of experience serving their community on the planning commission.

By action of the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly, the City of Ryland Heights moved from sixth to fifth class status. This move provided the central Kenton County community with a seat on the planning commission for the first time. It also necessitated Carlin’s departure since her seat was designated to represent the county’s sixth class communities as appointed by the Fiscal Court.

When the Ryland Heights City Commission filled its new seat on the planning commission, Carlin’s eligibility ended. She had served since 2000.

“Remember that you’re planning for the future and that you’re there for everybody, not just a few,” responded Carlin when asked if she had any advice she would like to pass along to her colleagues. “Your decisions have to make good sense and follow the guidelines set out the in comprehensive plan.”

Cook was first appointed to the Kenton County Planning Commission in 1998. By all accounts, his tenure on the county board was marked by a strong belief in and voice for southern Kenton County and the opinions held by those who live there.

Cook’s tenure ended in December when he completed his fourth term on the planning commission. Judge/Executive Steve Arlinghaus appointed Gailen Bridges to a four-year term replacing Cook.

“Remember that you represent the people, not the elected officials,” is how Cook responded when asked about thoughts he would like to pass along to the current planning commission members. “I served 16 years and wish I could continue to serve.”

Cook exhibited a good deal of pride in pointing out that he was first appointed by a Democratic judge/executive and reappointed by three Republican judges/executive to serve his neighbors in southern Kenton County.

Members of the planning commission gave each departing member a plaque and standing ovation during their last meeting as commission chairman Paul Darpel recounted their many contributions to the cause of planning in Kenton County.

“Barb and Jim were good commissioners and represented their constituents well,” said Darpel. “We obviously hate to lose good people with this much experience. We’ll miss them, both as colleagues and friends.”

Draft subdivision regulations online for public review

Posted on February 26, 2014
The long process of developing new subdivision regulations for Kenton County is one step closer to completion as of last week. A draft containing roughly 75 percent of the new provisions is online now for public review and comment.

Click this link to find the “Draft- 2014 Kenton County Subdivision Regulations” on NKAPC.org.

This draft is being made available for review prior to a resolution of final street design and construction issues, according to Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. It is to give all parties as much time as possible to review the text that has been finalized.

“The Kenton County Planning Commission is waiting on written specifications from a committee of local engineers that’s been working on street design and construction issues,” said Hiles. “Once those specifications have been completed and the planning commission’s committee has had a chance to review them, we’ll be able to finish the final 25 percent of the draft and set a date for the required public hearing.”

Hiles suggests the date for that public hearing will be late June or July.

Hiles tells prospective reviewers they can expect to see highlights and minor formatting issues in the online draft which will differ in the final version. Provisions relating to street design and construction standards are highlighted to inform readers that the selected text will probably change between now and the public hearing when the final draft is put before the community and planning commission.

That final version of the completed text will be uploaded to NKAPC’s website for review and comments prior to the late June/July public hearing.

If during your review you should you have any questions or comments about the current draft, please contact staff at 859.331.8980.

… for what it’s worth…

Posted on February 04, 2014
A discussion of open space—whether it will be provided and if so how much—seems to be part of the review process for almost any residential development these days. A recent edition of URBANLAND, the online publication of the Urban Land Institute, included interviews with five professionals whose job it is to work with this component of residential development.

Some of the issues discussed include:
•    What kinds of open space are popular now?
•    How can open space add value to real estate?
•    What are some best practices in incorporating open space?

Check out the article here… for whatever it’s worth.

Views expressed in this article do not reflect an official position or policy of the NKAPC. The article is presented here to provide input for those interested in land use planning issues.

Permit numbers stay strong despite frigid temperatures

Posted on February 04, 2014
December and January weather usually prompts a decline in building activity in Kenton County due to cold temperatures and snow. Not this year, in spite of colder than normal temperatures and higher than usual snowfall.

NKAPC reports indicate that since January 6, 2014, when the polar vortex moved through Northern Kentucky, NKAPC has issued 43% of the 217 permits it processed since December 1.

Even with the subzero temperatures, contractors are braving the cold, completing projects, and calling for their inspections, according to Brian Sims, CBO, NKAPC’s chief building official. NKAPC staff performed 223 inspections within this time period.

“We don’t want to be out in this weather anymore than the next guy, but we have to make ourselves available to help our customers move their projects along,” said Sims.

New Year starts off with application for 129-lot plat

Posted on February 04, 2014
The Kenton County Planning Commission approved a 129-lot addition to Williams Woods subdivision in Independence earlier this month. This marks the first time that the City of Independence has seen a new residential development or subdivision addition of this magnitude in several years.

Williams Woods lies along Bristow Road approximately 2,000 feet east of Banklick Road, directly across from Battleridge subdivision. When the original plat of Williams Woods was approved, the site was located in unincorporated Kenton County. That subdivision plat consisted of 178 single-family lots.

The newly-approved plat will bring the development’s total to 307 lots. It will also contain approximately 5,000 feet of new public streets that will be maintained by the City of Independence.

“The number of new residential lots we’ve approved in Independence over the last four years doesn’t equal the addition to Williams Woods that we just approved,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, NKAPC’s director of infrastructure engineering. “Looking earlier than 2009 there was a mix of single and multi-family development in Independence that totaled 90 residences, but you’d have to go back to 2004 to see the really significant numbers that were off the charts. Literally, several hundred new lots were approved in that year.”

Hiles added that given the number of other new or established developments that were either just beginning construction or continuing established developments at the end of 2013, this addition to Williams Woods adds one more reason to be optimistic about continuing the steady residential growth the community began to see trending about a year ago.

Ludlow, Villa Hills disband their boards of adjustment

Posted on February 04, 2014
Looking for ways to reduce administrative costs and to provide funds for other city programs, elected officials in the Cities of Ludlow and Villa Hills decided recently to dissolve their respective boards of adjustment, transferring that authority to the Kenton County Board of Adjustment and the costs to NKAPC’s One Stop Shop codes administration program.

Boards of adjustment have authority to make case-by-case zoning decisions on requests by property owners. Like planning commission members, board of adjustment members are citizens appointed by their local government city; they are not professional planners.

The primary duties of boards of adjustment include hearing requests to vary from dimensional regulations of the local zoning code, hearing administrative appeals from zoning enforcement and interpretation decisions, hearing conditional use requests, and hearing requests to change from one nonconforming use to another.

Ludlow and Villa Hills have each had their own board of adjustment for many years which carries the costs of staff time, legal fees, notification costs, and payments to their board members. This has proven to be expensive, as city budgets have gotten tighter. City officials have also been challenged by having to find (and retain) the required number of members in order to make legal decisions.

The Kentucky Revised Statutes require jurisdictions that pursue planning and zoning to have a functioning board of adjustment. The 1966 agreement that created the Kenton County Planning Commission stipulates that if a city does not have its own board of adjustment, then the county board will fulfill that role for the city. The cost that would have been incurred by a city for this duty essentially disappears at that point, since additional territory does not increase costs to the county board of adjustment which are borne by the One Stop Shop program.

More information on the process of disbanding a board of adjustment can be provided by NKAPC planning and zoning director Martin Scribner, AICP.

Piner tornado brings people together, prompts survey

Posted on February 04, 2014
By the time a tornado struck Piner in March 2012, devastating the community and structures to the east of it, a small group of area citizens had met several times to try to bring their neighbors together. The immediate needs prompted by the Class 5 storm solidified that group’s goals and provided fuel to move it forward.

Talk of bringing neighbors and friends together was replaced quickly by actions that were more effective in helping southern Kenton County residents see the value of working together. While pursuing relief efforts, group members also sought to bring structure to residents who value individualism and privacy. The strategy worked.

As the storm’s devastation transitioned to a memory, local discussions moved on to Direction 2030, a coordinated effort by the Kenton County Planning Commission to engage as many Kenton County residents in the crafting of a new comprehensive plan for the community.

Residents got together and discussed past planning efforts and current needs. In order to get a comprehensive understanding of the area’s needs, the group decided to pursue a survey of their friends and neighbors across the southern part of the county. With the support of Kenton County Fiscal Court, NKAPC, and the Kenton County Agriculture Extension office, group members mailed approximately 3100 surveys to all households on January 10.

Three-hundred fifty responses were needed for the survey to be considered statistically significant; the community came together and returned more than a 1000 surveys.

The survey document was developed by Dr. Lori Garkovich with University of Kentucky who has extensive experience dealing with rural issues in other parts of Kentucky. Garkovich helped with a planning effort in 1996 for this part of Kenton County and has a good understanding of the community. After the survey was developed, it was shared with a group of residents for initial feedback to ensure the questions were clear and understood.

The survey includes demographic questions that will provide general information on the respondents such as how long they have lived in southern Kenton county and their reasons for moving to that part of the community.

During the preliminary planning process one of the main themes raised by residents was the need to preserve the rural heritage of the area. In order to capture the varied perceptions of rural heritage, additional questions regarding what defines rural heritage were also included in the survey so as to provide a variety of options including farms, large homes, small stores, large office buildings and retail. Also included are questions regarding respondents’ satisfaction with existing roadways, Internet access, employment centers, access to retail and residential development.

“The survey is a way for public and elected officials to understand better who we are and what our needs are,” said Bill Schneider, a resident of Cruise Creek Road in southern Kenton County. “The individual leadership that has come forth to design the survey is inspiring. We are thrilled with the huge response that shows how hungry our citizens are to be heard.”

The survey response period was closed on January 31, 2014. Staff is compiling the data that will be sent to Garkovich for analysis. Results will be available in mid-late March.

Focus groups and public meetings are being planned to seek additional input. “This is a very community- driven planning process for an area of the county that has a very strong sense of community,” said Sharmili Reddy, AICP, planning manager at NKAPC. “We are providing a service and helping the process by facilitating and bringing in resources as necessary.”

The results of the survey and information gathered from focus groups and public meetings will be used to develop policy for the southern portion of Kenton County as part of the Direction 2030 planning effort. The comprehensive plan for 40 years has promoted growth and development north of this area while encouraging the protection of the agriculture and rural nature of Southern Kenton County.

This effort will help determine if the policy is still valid or if changes need to be made to represent community desire.

Planning Council members conduct elections for 2014

Posted on February 04, 2014
Leadership of Kenton County’s planning council shifted last week as 18 representatives of the county’s 20 jurisdictions gathered for its annual organizational meeting. Covington Commissioner Chuck Eilerman was elected the council’s president for 2014; Edgewood Mayor John Link was elected vice president and Elsmere Mayor Marty Lenhoff was elected secretary. All terms run through January of next year.

In another voting procedure, councilmembers elected four individuals to serve two-year terms on the area planning commission. Elected were former Fort Mitchell mayor Bill Goetz, former Fort Wright mayor Tom Litzler, Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier, and former Independence mayor Chris Moriconi.

Three other individuals serve on the area planning commission, having been elected in 2013 to two-year terms. They are Covington Mayor Sherry Carran, former Fort Wright mayor Gene Weaver, and former Park Hills councilman Dick Spoor.

“I'm honored to have been chosen and look forward to working with my fellow council members, the Commission, and staff to build on the demonstrated strengths of the organization,” said newly-elected council president Chuck Eilerman after the meeting. “I support our core values (Service, Perseverance, Innovation, Collaboration, and Excellence). I want to focus on furthering the substantive work being carried out in refining development standards, strengthening geographic information and mapping tools, and strengthening the cause of municipal services consolidation.”

As directed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes, the area planning council provides a forum in which Kenton County planning issues can be debated and consensus can be achieved. With a membership of elected officials only, the council is also responsible for final review of the organization’s annual budget and the tax rate that funds it.

The area planning commission is the body that sets the organization’s general direction, oversees the county’s planning staff, and develops its annual work program and budget.

Others included on the council ballot were: Fort Mitchell Mayor Chris Wiest for president; and, Park Hills and Villa Hills mayors Don Catchen and Mike Martin respectively for council secretary. Others included on the commissioner ballot were: Independence Councilman Jim Bushong; Erlanger resident Louis Miller; and, Crescent Springs Councilman Tom Vergamini.

Eilerman concluded, “I look forward to coordinating the elements of our comprehensive plan with the work of the Kenton County Governance Committee, and Vision 2015's myNKY initiative.”

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