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Fiscal Court okays citizen-led zoning amendments for South Kenton

Posted on October 19, 2017

Kenton County Fiscal Court voted unanimously this month to adopt text amendments to the Rural Commercial (RC) zoning district in the county’s zoning ordinance. The changes, which were crafted by a group of rural county residents, address one of the goals in Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice., the countywide comprehensive plan. 

Fiscal court’s action marks the culmination of almost two years of work by the South Kenton County Citizens’ Group to review, analyze, and recommend changes to the Rural Commercial Zone. Goal #5 of the comprehensive plan’s Rural Subarea states, “Rural commercial and industrial development policies need to be tailored to align with the recommended land use map and community preservation, scale, and values.”

As crafted and enacted, these text amendments align the rural commercial regulations to preserve rural character and ensure that any new development reflects the desired scale, character, and form in the community.

“We studied other rural areas to see what communities are doing to preserve rural character,” explained Kathleen Donohoue, chair of the South Kenton Citizens’ Group’s zoning committee. One of the key text changes is a cap on the square footage for retailers serving rural residents. Those include convenience stores, bakeries, and restaurants. Larger buildings are permitted for businesses that support farming operations such as farm equipment stores, feed and seed stores, and lumber yards.

“Our goal is to make the rural commercial areas conducive to small, independent businesses. The rural community is a place for them to thrive without the pressures and competition of larger retailers,” said Donohoue.   

PDS staff and Kenton County Commissioner Beth Sewell assisted the committee in drafting the changes.

“It’s not every day you see a community group stepping up to propose changes to their community’s zoning ordinance,” said Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, Director of Planning & Zoning. “This group took an active role in making changes necessary to fulfill the vision for the community included in Direction 2030. I applaud them for the hard work and dedication it took to get this done.”

Former PDS Principal Planner Edward Dietrich, AICP, and Chris Schneider, AICP, Principal Planner, supported the group by providing research on rural zoning trends, drafting proposed text, and attending monthly meetings of the zoning committee.

Commissioner Sewell provided input and facilitated necessary discussions with other Fiscal Court members. The project is a great example of community members, PDS planners, and Fiscal Court members working together to implement an important element of Direction 2030, according to Sewell.

As enacted, the Rural Commercial (RC) text amendment will impact several small commercial nodes in southern Kenton County. They are located primarily at roadway intersections in Nicholson, Piner, Kenton, Visalia and White’s Tower. Three additional rural commercial zones are located along Dixie Highway near the intersections of York, Green, and Bracht-Piner Roads.

For questions regarding these changes, email Emi Randall or Chris Schneider, or call them at 859.331.8980.


Edgewood disbands its code enforcement board to join joint board

Posted on March 04, 2016

The Edgewood City Council voted unanimously during its December 7 meeting to disband its code enforcement board and join the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board. Edgewood becomes the 11th jurisdiction represented by the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, an alliance of local jurisdictions staffed by PDS’ One Stop Shop program.

Other members of the joint board are Kenton County, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Fort Wright, Independence, Kenton Vale, Park Hills, Ryland Heights, Taylor Mill, and Villa Hills.

Edgewood City Administrator Brian Dehner stated, “Code enforcement continues to be a growing issue in most communities. Cities struggle with serving citations legally and providing an appeal process that will hold up if the case ends up in court. By entering the Joint Code Enforcement Board, the City of Edgewood will benefit in getting these concerns filled.”

“If property owners decide to appeal their case we know the Joint Code Enforcement Board members will be trained, have legal representation present during all meetings to provide them with legal advice and an experienced board that hears cases every month. Another benefit is our city administrative staff will no longer have to administer the city’s Code Enforcement Board, allowing the staff to work on other job duties,” said Dehner.

Membership of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board is comprised of an appointed representative from each jurisdiction. The Board provides an objective forum to hear appeals from property owners, order timely remediation or abatement of issues, or if necessary impose civil fines for continued, unabated violations of ordinances.

The Joint Board meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM in the Commission Chambers of the PDS Building in Fort Mitchell.

Staff working with local jurisdictions to expand code enforcement tools

Posted on December 29, 2015

As code enforcement issues morph and grow, PDS staff and the elected officials they serve work to keep pace. As those issues present new challenges, the collaboration on which PDS was founded pursues new tools for its communities to use.

“Ten years ago when we initiated the One Stop Shop program, code enforcement was pretty straight forward,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Staff responded to complaints, visited the sites and sent letters, and followed up with those violators who resisted complying with local ordinances. It seems like everything’s gotten more complicated and time consuming since then.”

Gordon cites the many foreclosures witnessed during the Great Recession as the first issue to challenge PDS’ protocol for abating code violations.

“Keeping up with code enforcement issues prompted by foreclosures was extremely frustrating for staff. The homeowners were gone. The lending institutions weren’t stepping up to offer any assistance. So, the staff got trapped into wasting untold hours looking for people who were taking steps not to be found.”

The solution to this issue came in a program used by hundreds of jurisdictions across the country. As requested by most county jurisdictions, Kenton County Fiscal Court is now considering a county-wide Vacant Properties Registration Ordinance to remedy the problem of finding no one of record who is responsible for vacant foreclosed properties. Action on the proposal is hoped for after the first of the new year.

Staff’s second challenge came in the form of nuisance codes adopted by most of the jurisdictions served by PDS’ code enforcement program.

“Our first real experience with chronic nuisance codes came with ongoing problems being experienced at the old USA Hotel in Fort Mitchell. It seemed as though law enforcement, health department, and code enforcement officials took turns citing the owner for violations. Once the city adopted a chronic nuisance code, all agencies collaborated to get the place closed. A Mercedes dealership occupies that site now—a clear instance of success benefitting the city.”

The solution to this issue came out of discussions between Gordon and the chief executives of those jurisdictions.

“When confronted with the fact that the minor differences and form of their Chronic Nuisance Codes were going to prompt higher costs, the elected officials were pretty quick to suggest ironing out those differences and standardizing language,” according to Gordon. “We collected all the local nuisance codes and are working with legal counsel now to pull all the disparate contents into one model ordinance that can be adopted by each of the legislative bodies.”

The resulting model ordinance is near completion. Gordon suggests that a meeting of all jurisdictions to discuss the model will be held after the first of the new year.

“If the collaborative spirit that’s marked this process to date continues, we expect to have all jurisdictions under the new model nuisance code by the second quarter of 2016,” he concluded.

The One Stop Shop codes administration program was initiated in 2005 and 2006 at the request of eight Kenton County jurisdictions. In its earliest form, the program provided building and electric inspection services, zoning and property maintenance codes administration, and support for the jurisdiction’s board of adjustment.

It has since grown to include providing staff support for the Kenton County Joint Board of Adjustment and Joint Code Enforcement Board, collaborations between the Fiscal Court and a number of local municipalities. As for jurisdictions, the original membership of eight has more than doubled to include 17 of the county’s 20 jurisdictions.

A listing of those jurisdictions and the services provided to them can be found online.

Enlarged joint code enforcement board ok’d, is ready to hear cases

Posted on August 15, 2014

A new interlocal agreement for Kenton County’s Joint Code Enforcement Board has been signed by all parties and approved by state authorities, enabling the board to start hearing code enforcement cases from the two newest cities to join the board, Villa Hills and Park Hills.

Since enabling legislation was passed in 1996 by the Kentucky General Assembly, most jurisdictions in Kenton County have formed code enforcement boards to help strengthen their municipal codes and keep zoning enforcement issues out of the courts. Kenton Fiscal Court and six of the county’s cities formed the joint code enforcement board in 2006.

In late 2013, the cities of Villa Hills and Park Hills decided to disband their own code enforcement boards in favor of joining the joint code enforcement board. Their decisions to do so hinged largely on the facts that the cooperative effort costs each city much less money and means that each city only has to make one appointment to the board, rather than finding three or five volunteers for their own board.

Historically, many of the cities have found it difficult to find volunteers to keep their own code enforcement boards fully operational. This can result in code violation cases being delayed for several months or even dismissed altogether.

The interlocal agreement that was signed in 2006 forming the joint code enforcement board limited the number of participating jurisdictions to seven, which was the number of communities that chose to participate at the time. The new agreement was drafted to allow additional cities to join without requiring an entirely new contract. Now that all of the cities currently wishing to participate have signed this agreement, the addition of new cities to the board can be seamless.

Current participating member jurisdictions:

City of Crescent Springs
City of Crestview Hills
City of Fort Wright
Kenton County
City of Kenton Vale
City of Park Hills
City of Ryland Heights
City of Taylor Mill
City of Villa Hills