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PDS Board hires new executive director

Posted on May 04, 2020

Sharmili Reddy left Planning and Development Services of Kenton County five years ago to become City Administrator for Fort Mitchell. On Friday, she accepted an offer from the organization’s Management Board to become its fifth executive director. Current executive director Dennis Gordon will retire this summer after almost 18 years of service to Kenton County.

“Dennis gave us plenty of notice so we could find the best possible candidate,” said County Commissioner Joe Nienaber who serves as the Board’s chairman. “We advertised nationally and received resumes from quite a few exceptional people. In the end, we decided Sharmili’s previous PDS experience and her five years in Fort Mitchell made her the best candidate to move the organization forward.”

Reddy has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, and a Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Cincinnati. Her professional planning experience includes two years with the Center Regional Planning Agency in State College, Pennsylvania, and ten years with PDS before leaving for the post in Fort Mitchell.

“PDS has a long history of community impact in Kenton County and I am excited for the opportunity to come back and lead this organization,” said Reddy.

“Sharmili was a great contributor to our mission during her ten years on staff,” said Dennis Gordon, PDS executive director. “She provided great people skills and played a key role in developing Kenton County’s online comprehensive plan, Direction 2030. We hated to lose her when she left for Fort Mitchell.”

Direction 2030 received several state and national awards since its adoption in 2014 by the Kenton County Planning Commission.

PDS, formerly known as the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, was created in 1961 following action in 1960 by the Kentucky General Assembly. Through the early 1980s it served as staff for the multiple citizen planning commissions that existed in Campbell and Kenton Counties. It has served as staff for the Kenton County Planning Commission and its 20 local governments since 1983. Interestingly, today marks the 59th anniversary of the organization’s first meeting held at the Covington City Building—a date the organization refers to as Founder’s Day.

“We’re talking with Sharmili now regarding her start date,” stated Nienaber. “I believe we can work things out so she can spend some time with Dennis before he leaves on the first of August.”



Kenton County Declares a State of Emergency

Posted on March 13, 2020

COVINGTON, Ky. (March 13, 2020) – Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann has declared a proclamation of local emergency for Kenton County, Kentucky due to the growing public health impacts of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

What does this mean? This proclamation allows emergency services to activate internal processes for local and inter-jurisdictional disaster emergency planning and purchasing.

What does it NOT mean? This does not mean that schools, business, churches and other like organizations have to close. It is at the discretion of each entity to make the decision whether or not to remain in operation.

“Kenton County has been working with our local partners in response to COVID-19 in order to best protect our community” stated Judge/Executive Knochelmann.  “Residents are encouraged to check the County’s website regularly for local and state updates from the Health Department and the office of the Governor. Please keep your family and neighbors in mind going forward, and we will emerge stronger as a community on the other side of this event.”

Community members are encouraged to follow the Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKYHD) guidelines to protect against COVID-19 including:

·     Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

·     Stay home when you feel sick.

·     Get the flu vaccine.

·     Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands.

·     Properly cover your sneeze and cough with a tissue, then throw away the used tissue.

·     Frequently disinfect objects and surfaces with a cleaner that you typically use.

·     Avoid close contact with those who are sick.

If you are feeling ill, please contact your physician first before going to the emergency room.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visithttps://nkyhealth.org/individual-orfamily/health-alerts/coronavirus/ or following the NKYHD on Facebook (@nkyhealth) and Twitter (@nkyhealth).



PDS has moved to Covington!

Posted on September 23, 2019

PDS has made the official move to our new Covington location! We're still settling in, but we're open for business.

Come to the 3rd floor front desk for Infrastructure Engineering and GIS departments. Planning & Zoning and Building Codes are on the 4th floor. 

The Kenton County Planning Commission, PDS Management Board, and PDS Council will now be holding their hearings here in the Kenton County Chambers on the 2nd floor at their regular scheduled date and time. 

Address:
1840 Simon Kenton Way, Suite 3400
Covington, KY  41011-2999

 

 

 

 

 

From I-71/75 N
• Take the 12th Street/MLK exit
• At the intersection, cross MLK onto Simon Kenton Way
• Entrance to new county building is on the right

From I-71/75 S
• Take the 12th Street/MLK exit
• At MLK, turn left and go under the expressway
• Turn left onto Simon Kenton Way
• Entrance to new county building is on the right

 



Origin of Area Planning: May 4, 1961

Posted on May 04, 2018
On this date in 1961, elected officials from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts and the Cities of Covington, Erlanger, Taylor Mill, Winston Park, Elsmere, South Fort Mitchell, Bromley, Newport, Fort Thomas, Dayton, Crestview, Woodlawn, and Southgate gathered at Covington City Hall to execute a contract establishing an area planning council and commission pursuant to legislation enacted the previous year by the Kentucky General Assembly.

They elected officers for the Council—Charles Kuhn of Fort Thomas was chosen the first president—and the first eight members to serve on the Area Planning Commission: George Nelson (community unknown); June Lukowski (Fort Mitchell); Paul Swanson (Erlanger); E.R. Morlidge (Fort Thomas); Charles Creekmore (Taylor Mill); Edward Beiting (Alexandria); George Neack (Newport); and, Lawrence Rechtin (Dayton).

Those actions capped off a several-year effort by members of the several chambers of commerce, the Home Builder’s Association of Northern Kentucky, local elected officials, members of the 23 local planning commissions that existed across the three northern Kentucky counties, and ultimately the area’s legislative delegation to the General Assembly to provide for “a more efficient planning operation.” (KRS 147.610)

The post-World War II explosion of suburban development was in full swing.  Bulldozers and other heavy equipment were on the move, connecting Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to the brand-new Eisenhower interstate highway system. And, many were worried that without coordination and the technical support of a professional staff, Northern Kentucky would fail to capture the opportunities presenting themselves through new growth and development.

So, thank you to those far-sighted individuals and the history they initiated that Thursday evening. Thank you to all who have served on the Council and Board these past 57 years. Thank you to those who have filled positions we hold now, who have built the foundation on which we pursue our responsibilities today. And thank you to the Kenton County of 2018, a community much better off than what it would have been without the collective effort of those who came before us.


'PDS by the Numbers' now online

Posted on April 02, 2018

‘PDS by the Numbers’ now online

More than ever before, ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ are goals being pursued by public agencies at all levels. PDS is no different, uploading its most up-to-date effort last month—an online collaboration with OpenGov.com—to keep those it serves updated.

“PDS has a long history of openness and transparency,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “And, as sincere as that effort has been, the pace of life today has made it more difficult for citizens to find the time to ask their questions.”

Last summer, Gordon and members of PDS’ management board agreed that the organization needed to update the way it provided accountability to those it serves.  They came to agreement quickly that OpenGov, an online platform designed to help build bridges of information, was the solution. Kenton County, Covington, Park Hills, Fort Wright, Edgewood, and Independence also use the tool.

“Several of OpenGov’s capabilities convinced me that this was the way we needed to go,” said Gordon. “OpenGov is interactive which gives viewers the ability to slide and dice data to get answers to their specific questions. It also provides the capability to serve up all kinds of other data, not just financial reports. To me, this was the capability that sold me on the product.”

Gordon and his staff began gathering data on all sorts of PDS staff activities in January 2016.  In all, they collect over 90 metrics each month ranging from number of phone calls answered to linear feet of GIS maps produced to the number of inspections completed.  He says many of these numbers are now part of the agency’s monthly ‘PDS by the Numbers’ reports.

“To me, being able to provide all facets of our operations—funds expended, and services provided—gives citizens an honest picture of what we do and what its cots,” said Gordon. “I don’t have anything against just providing financial reports except that it only provides part of the picture. ‘PDS by the Numbers’ gives the complete story… and I believe this is a much better level of transparency than serving up just one of them alone.”

‘PDS by the Numbers’ data can be accessed by way of the PDS flagship website.

 



Annual work program, budget chart new course for FY2018

Posted on July 27, 2017

Transparency is the hallmark of PDS’ annual work program and budget for the fiscal year that began the first of this month. As approved on a unanimous vote of the PDS Council and adopted on a unanimous vote of the PDS Management Board, the new document includes a number of initiatives—both written and inherent—that take the agency into new territory.

The most noticeable change to the work program and budget, at least to those familiar with past documents, is the budget format change. Where past budgets were created around revenues and expenditures by the agency’s five departments—Administration, Building Codes, GIS, Infrastructure Engineering, and Planning and Zoning—the FY18 budget is focused on PDS’ four programming areas. Those are community planning services, general governmental services, GIS, and One Stop Shop codes administration services.

“Our budgets have always been inward-looking, meaning they relied on a basic understanding of the organization to facilitate their review,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “And, while we made them available to anyone who wanted to understand our operations, if you didn’t understand PDS’ programs, you could get lost in departmental details.”

Gordon says the new programming budget uses terms that more people know and understand. They include: small area studies; infrastructure inspections; economic development technical support; websites; zoning text/map amendments; public engagement; planning commission support; codes enforcement; building permits; and, rental inspections to name a few.

The new budget format parallels that used by most Kenton County local governments. Gordon says this fact facilitated the review process staff pursues each spring with members of the PDS Council and Management Board. “The format just felt more comfortable to them.”

One objective found in the organization’s work program ties directly to its goal of financial transparency, according to Gordon. It calls on the staff to pursue publishing financial records online using the same OpenGov software used by many local governments across Northern Kentucky. January 1st is included as the goal for this objective to be operational.

The FY18 annual work program includes a number of other objectives that “take the agency into new territory.” Included among those objectives are:

  • publishing an annual report that includes among other things numbers from the now-institutionalized ‘PDS by the Numbers’ initiative—a regular reporting of PDS analytics;
  • pursuing the Z21 (Zoning for the 21st Century) initiative, reviewing and updating as necessary the zoning ordinances that serve many of Kenton County’s 20 local governments;
  • crafting a replacement to Kenton County’s near-twenty-years-old bicycle and pedestrian plans;
  • implementing electronic plan reviews for the land subdivision process, engineering plan submittals, zoning application reviews, and building plan reviews;
  • preparing for the 2020 US Census;
  • ramping up PDS’ public outreach program to keep Kenton County’s citizens up to date on planning efforts of interest; and
  • beginning to plan for the agency’s move to the new Kenton County Administration Building in Covington.

Gordon says these and other objectives are to be funded with a ‘compensating tax rate,’ meaning the same amount of money as the agency used this past fiscal year.

“We know it’ll be a challenge to get this list completed,” said Gordon. “But, if we don’t set our sights high, we’ll never know what we’re capable of achieving.”

PDS’ annual work program and budget are subject to annual review by the county’s elected and appointed officials. The Management Board—an appointed group charged with daily oversight—helps staff create the document for review by the PDS Council—a 20-member group with one elected official from each of Kenton County’s local governments as members. This group is responsible for oversight of setting the tax rate, its members being elected officials. Once these members have approved the work program, budget, and proposed tax rate, the document is sent to the Management Board and staff for implementation.

The FY18 Annual Work Program and Budget will be uploaded soon to the PDS website. Questions about it or other facets of PDS’ operations should be directed to Gordon.



Summer interns and co-op students help get the work done

Posted on June 30, 2017
When you think of summer you think of going to the beach, swimming, picnics and eating al fresco. But if you’re a high school or college student you think about summer jobs or internships. PDS is supporting students this summer with employment for four special student interns.

Two of PDS’ interns have joined staff for a second time. Aileen Lawson is a student from the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning who is again working with the PDS’ planning staff. She says, “The Planning and Zoning department here serves such a wide variety of work, from small area studies to Kenton County Planning Commission issues to day-to-day services for all of Kenton County’s jurisdictions. My experience here has been so diverse; I’ve gotten a richer experience that will serve me well when I enter the workforce after graduation.”

Also returning is Mitchell Masarik, a recent graduate from the University of Louisville’s GIS program. He said, "When I first started at PDS last summer I was nervous and anxious as I began my first few days in the office. However, after meeting and getting to know staff members, I immediately felt at home and that I was truly part of something bigger than myself, a team, striving to give the best products and services to the customers that we serve.”

He goes on to say, “I can honestly say that thanks to PDS and its amazing staff I’m constantly putting my skills to the test in new scenarios and never feeling left out of the overall conversation of success that our team tries to deliver on a daily basis."

The other two interns are first timers to PDS. Dillion Rhodus, a GIS intern, attends Virginia Tech and is trying Cincinnati on for size with thoughts of relocating here after graduation. Many say that Cincinnati is a “hungry” city for new talent, according to Rhodus.

"I’m very excited to be working with LINK-GIS this summer. I’m eager to not only apply my skills that I've learned at Virginia Tech but also to see what I can contribute to the team and how I can grow as an individual through this opportunity,” states Dillon about his internship with PDS.

Ethan Paff, a recent graduate from Scott High School and Kenton County Academies’ Bio Medical program, is pursuing his first paid internship out of school in GIS. Ethan will be heading to Brown University in the fall. Paff said, "Having an internship means having the ability to experiment with one's own future, to walk several paths before deciding on one."

The real work and résumé builders that PDS interns are pursuing consists of many projects; addressing, land use inventories, small area studies, rights-of-way and easements, and economic development to name a few. “Having interns is essential for PDS to help us learn how to bridge our demographic gaps in reaching our audience,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration.

While working closely with our staff, interns receive on-the-job training and knowledge. In turn, PDS gains different perspectives and fresh ideas that help bridge the generational gaps.

All in all, having interns join staff offers new energy and awareness as PDS does its share to contribute to the workforce readiness movement.


Fiscal Court, PDS resolve funding issues for collocation in Covington

Posted on May 04, 2017

The PDS Management Board voted unanimously on April 27th to accept Kenton County Fiscal Court’s invitation to move its operations to the county’s new administration building in Covington. That building will soon be under construction as the county rehabilitates and adds new space to the historic Bavarian Brewery building at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard exit from I-71/75.

The board’s decision follows several meetings between its members and Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Administrator Joe Shriver. It also follows an affirmative vote by PDS Council members—elected officials who oversee PDS on behalf of Kenton County’s 20 local governments—following a presentation by Judge Knochelmann.

“Frankly, the county made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS Executive Director. “Making this move into cohesive space on one floor will facilitate our efficiency and workflow while also relieving us of our long-term debt was almost a no-brainer. It will also relieve Kenton County taxpayers from paying for two buildings.”

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin this fall with an anticipated occupancy date of early 2019. More information about the project may be found on the county’s website.



Monthly staff performance metrics will be available online soon

Posted on January 03, 2017

How many inspections does PDS staff pursue in a month? How long does it take to get a permit? How many phone calls did staff handle last month? How large is PDS’ total collection of GIS data? How many code enforcement cases is staff handling currently?

Staff gathered the answers to these and dozens of similar questions over the past 12 months. The collection of these data will become the base data in a new program being called PDS by the Numbers.

“It’s difficult at times for people to comprehend all the activities that our staff handles on an ongoing basis,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director. “Even for those who understand our responsibilities, it’s sometimes tough to realize how quickly work numbers grow when you don’t experience them on a day-to-day basis. These situations are the reason we’re initiating PDS by the Numbers.”

Gordon names Kenton County Commissioner Joe Nienaber the catalyst for the new program.

“As a member of the PDS Council—our oversight body, Joe frequently asks about numbers of permits, processing time, customers served, and the list goes on,” according to Gordon. “We usually have answers to his questions, or at least are able to get them, but they prompted me to consider gathering those data on a more routine basis. Publishing them just adds to our transparency.”

Gordon approached PDS’ GIS programmers with some of these data earlier this year. He asked them for an effective way to present the information in an interesting way, one that would catch attention and allow for some level of interaction.

“Christy (Powell) and Joe (Busemeyer) provided me with a template in pretty short order,” said Gordon.

PDS by the Numbers’ 2016 data will appear on the agency’s website sometime in January; new numbers will be added on a monthly basis. The interactive display will provide visitors with an overview of the most important of 89 criteria gathered by staff on a monthly basis. As the program moves forward, current data will be portrayed in comparison with last year’s activities as an indicator of staff’s workload.

“At first the effort it took to collect these numbers was a bit tedious, more about remembering to do it than anything else. Once everyone made it a part of his or her routines, it became second nature,” said Gordon.

He concluded by suggesting that some of the numbers are going to surprise people.



Kenton Fiscal Court OKs Vacant Foreclosed Property Registry

Posted on January 03, 2017

Kenton County Fiscal Court voted unanimously last month to enact a county-wide vacant foreclosed property registration program. The program, which became effective December 9, increases the tools available to PDS staff for effective code enforcement activities. Most Kenton County cities advocated for the approval since early 2016.

Implementation of the new program will save tax dollars for PDS’ 16 One Stop Shop program jurisdictions by requiring lenders pursuing foreclosures to register a responsible party to maintain the vacant property. Knowing whom to contact reduces the time spent locating a responsible party when violations arise. The ordinance applies to all Kenton County communities regardless of whether they’re part of the PDS program.

In developing the ordinance with Kenton County Attorney Stacy Tapke, staff sought information from communities that have adopted vacant property registration programs. That research showed this type of program has proven to be a useful tool for other communities.

“The benefit at the office level is allowing faster turnaround times for property clean up,” said Joseph Parson, Planning/Building Inspector for the City of Morehead, Kentucky. That jurisdiction enacted a vacant property registration ordinance in 2011.

The City of Cincinnati uses a similar program. Cincinnati issued a report two years after adopting its vacant foreclosed property registry which details the changes in code enforcement effectiveness before and after adoption. The report states that prior to adoption of the ordinance, an estimated 20-30 percent of foreclosed properties degraded in condition during the foreclosure period. Within the first year after adoption, only ten per cent of those properties degraded in condition. That number dropped to 4.5 percent in the second year.

The cost of administering this program will be the sole responsibility of the banks and lending institutions that must maintain these foreclosed properties. The program will be funded through a required $150 property registration fee. In addition, the registration will reduce costs related to code-enforcement activities by increasing staff efficiency in dealing with vacant and foreclosed properties.

“Requiring a local contact for these properties allows us to contact a person who has the authority to address issues such as tall grass or maintenance violations in a timely manner” said Rob Himes, PDS’ codes administrator. “Under the current system, code enforcement officials’ only option is to mail a violation letter to the lending institution which is often out of state and that rarely yields results.” 

Vacant foreclosed properties can drag down property values in an otherwise well-kept neighborhood. There are an estimated 1,321 properties currently pending foreclosure in Kenton County, some dating back to 2006. Most of these properties set vacant and unmaintained through all or part of the foreclosure process. Kenton County’s new Vacant Foreclosed Property Registry provides cities with a mechanism to require that these properties be maintained to reasonable standards while in foreclosure.

PDS staff is reaching out currently to all lending institutions doing business in the metro area to inform them of this new requirement. It is also working with each of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions to discuss the program and provide necessary information to local staff.

Contact Emi Randall, Director of Planning & Zoning Administration or Rob Himes, Codes Administrator, or call 859.331.8980 for more information.



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