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Zoning for the 21st Century videos

Posted on January 30, 2018
Kenton County’s 19 zoning ordinances were developed during the early 1980s based on a “model” ordinance crafted by PDS’ predecessor organization. Except for the City of Covington which rewrote its ordinance during the mid-2000s, these ordinances have not been updated in a comprehensive manner since then.

Most of these ordinances continue to regulate with their original administrative policies and protocols. While close to 80 percent of their texts remain nearly identical, individual differences have been pursued by local governments in the form of over 700 text amendments just since 2000. Almost all of these were undertaken on a reactionary basis, addressing new development trends or specific issues that were unique to them.

The Kenton County Planning Commission adopted Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice, the county’s comprehensive plan, in 2014. This was the first wholesale rewriting of the communities’ comprehensive plan since their first was adopted in the early 1970s. The process that led to this new plan included over 100 opportunities for input from the public, staff from the county and cities, elected officials, developers, and other interested parties. Numerous goals, objectives, recommendations, and tasks resulted from that input, voicing the need for updating the various jurisdictions’ zoning ordinances.

PDS embarked on a project in 2016 to accomplish this—to create Zoning for the 21st Century (Z21).

Part 1: The Zoning Code Audit
Part 1 of this 3-part series summarizes PDS’ consultant team’s approach to the zoning audit process and what it looked for when it reviewed Kenton County’s zoning ordinances. This process resulted in detailed recommendations for updating those ordinances. (The full presentation was presented originally to the Z21 Task Force on June 20, 2017.)

Part 2: Analysis and Overall Recommendations
Part 2 of this 3-part series explains the consultant team’s 30,000-foot-view recommendations for Kenton County’s zoning ordinances. These recommendations were based on the team’s analysis as described in Part 1. (The full presentation was presented originally to the Z21 Task Force on September 20, 2017.)

Part 3: Detailed Recommendations
Part 3 of this 3-part series describes the consultant team’s detailed recommendations for Kenton County’s zoning ordinances. These recommendations build on the 30,000-foot-view recommendations discussed in Part 2. (The full presentation was presented originally to the Z21 Task Force on January 17, 2018.)

Erlanger City Council vote approves Commonwealth Station form district

Posted on March 25, 2015

On March 3 the Erlanger City Council voted to approve Commonwealth Station map and text amendments. The approval of these issues will pave the way for mixed use development adjacent to the interchange of Commonwealth Avenue with I-71/75. The new regulations are a step intended to improve the look and feel of the gateway to Erlanger.

The city initiated the Commonwealth Station project in 2012. Over the course of two-and-a-half years, a group of dedicated residents, business owners, and city staff met monthly to consider the community’s vision for the 42 acres of land on Commonwealth Boulevard across from the city building. That vision was then translated into regulations designed to encourage expanded uses, increased density, smaller setbacks, and architectural consistency.

“This is a very positive step for the community,” says Andy Videkovich, AICP, PDS senior planner and project manager. “This code does not infringe on property owners’ rights to use and develop their property in an economical way. Rather, it speaks to the city’s expectation that development provide an enticement for people to want to live, work, and play in Erlanger.”

Very careful consideration was given throughout the process to give deference to existing land owners. The area currently contains a number of buildings and uses that provide needed services to the adjacent community. In recognition of the impact some of the new regulations could have on an existing property owner, several rounds of changes were made to the application and processing sections of the new code prior to its adoption.

“The vision for Commonwealth Station is long-term,” says Videkovich. “Changes will occur over time, and this code is just one tool to encourage that change. It will also take work by the residents, city staff, and city elected officials to stand by this code and its vision for it to be successful.”

 Form-based codes have become popular nationally and locally as an alternative to traditional zoning codes. Traditional zoning codes focus primarily on the separation of land uses, to the detriment of the public realm created by such codes. Form-based codes are community vision-based and focus on an integrated built form.

More information on form-based codes can be found online at the Form-Based Codes Institute (formbasedcodes.org).

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.