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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.)

Planners complete Ludlow study; City to review recommendations

Posted on October 07, 2016
PDS staff completed the Ludlow Parking Lot Study late last month. Ludlow’s City Administration requested the study earlier this year, with the expressed goal of identifying the most effective way to expand parking availability within its Elm Street business district.

The study identified empty lots well-suited for conversion to parking lots, existing private parking lots that may be candidates for shared parking arrangements, and parking management techniques that can increase the number of parking spaces currently available. These three options for creating additional public parking spaces should be adequate for addressing Ludlow’s parking needs into the future.

Two of the four empty lots identified for conversion into parking lots are located in the business district and, together, could provide approximately 36 spaces. The other two empty lots are located within a short distance of the business district and provide a combined total of approximately 80 spaces.

The study also recommended that the City of Ludlow pursue a shared parking agreement with the owners of two parking lots located just south of the business district. Those agreements would allow the city access to the parking lots when they are not being used by the owners, providing the city with approximately 35 additional parking spaces.

Parking management techniques discussed in the study include striping parking spaces along Elm Street within the business district. Proper street parking-space striping creates uniform, right-sized parking spaces and eliminates the wide gaps between parked cars that can waste valuable space.

Another parking management technique recommended by the study is the establishment of time limits for parking spaces within the business district. Time limits encourage individuals to use business district parking spaces for short-term business needs only, which would allow more vehicles to park in the district throughout the day.

PDS staff also recommended that the city place wayfinding signs in strategic locations to direct users to public parking lots. Wayfinding signs direct users to facilities of interest and amenities and when placed correctly, these signs can provide a convenient guide to drivers without cluttering the streetscape with too many signs. The study offers suggestions for where the city might place these signs for the best impact.

The Ludlow Parking Lot Study provides Ludlow City Administration with the information it needs when determining how best to invest in the city’s current and future parking needs. As cities seek to expand their business centers, finding effective ways to serve the increased vehicular traffic that accompanies that expansion becomes a vital concern. By leveraging the ideas and recommendations presented in the Ludlow Parking Lot study, the City of Ludlow can efficiently acquire additional parking spaces that will help accommodate residents and welcome visitors to Ludlow’s increasingly active business district.  

Planners pursuing downtown parking study/plan for Ludlow

Posted on July 29, 2016
Ludlow Administrator Elishia Chamberlain, Mayor Kenneth Wynn, and City Council have worked hard over the last few years to market and redevelop Ludlow’s downtown commercial district. They’ve also developed a concern that inadequate parking in the downtown area may hinder additional growth. So, the city has partnered with PDS’ planners to study existing and potential parking needs within the business district.
“Ludlow has a great opportunity to grow within existing storefronts and buildings,” commented Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, PDS’ director of planning and zoning. “The city’s charming and affordable housing stock and overall proximity to world-class amenities in downtown Cincinnati make it an ideal candidate for businesses looking to start, relocate, or expand. Our team is working with the city to help identify areas that could help these businesses succeed through expanded parking options.”

The Ludlow downtown business district located along Elm Street (KY 8) features unmarked on-street parking on both sides of the street, with a few limited private parking lots for individual businesses. The city has asked PDS to study the business district and surrounding area to determine if public parking lots are warranted, and where potential parking opportunities may exist.

The study will estimate the parking needs of existing businesses and residents along Elm Street as well as the potential future needs should all available storefronts become occupied. Through the study, PDS staff will explore alternative parking arrangements along Elm Street, and make recommendations for these.

Staff will also look for other off-street parking options like shared lots or even the potential for new lots within the downtown business district. PDS staff will provide the city with recommendations on the most feasible and desirable locations for any proposed additional parking.

With this study, the city hopes to identify several opportunities for off-street parking lots of various sizes. Work on this study is underway and will continue through late August. The city will utilize the study to make strategic capital investments to construct parking lots desired to enable the continued redevelopment of their historic business district. 

Parks initiative kicks off comprehensive plan’s urban implementation

Posted on July 09, 2015
PDS staff embarked recently on an effort to help inventory and improve Kenton County’s urban parks. The project is a collaborative effort with the Cities of Covington, Ludlow, and Bromley and marks a major step forward for implementation of Kenton County’s Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice comprehensive plan.

The first step of the project involved identifying the location of all park facilities, inventorying the types of amenities provided at each location, and documenting the condition of all existing equipment and structures. This was completed in May.

The second phase of the project focuses on providing a website meant for use as an ongoing public resource and input tool.

“Throughout the Direction 2030 process, we focused on having conversations with citizens to learn what they wanted in the future. This input was a great asset to the plan and provided a springboard for what we’re pursuing now with this urban sub area parks project,” said Michael Ionna, AICP, a principal planner with PDS. “The new website will be a great way for us to continue those conversations and to learn how they feel about park improvements.”

The new website is dedicated solely to the urban parks project. One of its primary features is a survey to gather public input that will serve as a guide for future investment and improvements. Another is an interactive map that will display each park’s location, a corresponding picture, and a description and list of amenities and provided at that location.

“While the site provides a mechanism for collecting public input, it also provides information on the parks themselves,” Ionna elaborated. “We encourage residents to visit RiverCityParks.org to check out the features of the interactive map and to take the survey to “Help Plan Your Parks!”

Watch for future reports on the progress of the plan and be sure to visit the website for more information. For more details on the project, contact Michael Ionna at mionna@pdskc.org or 859.331.8980.

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.