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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.  

Management Board deliberates on results from building’s energy audit

Posted on October 07, 2016
Members of PDS’ Management Board will consider the recommendations of an energy audit of its building in the near future. The board’s Capital Management Committee is considering the contents of that audit, the cost of the recommended actions, and the payback that will be achieved through lowered utility bills.

“One of the nicest surprises to come out of the audit was the confirmation that our recent upgrades to the building have made a positive impact on its efficiency,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director at PDS. “The feasibility of additional improvements is what the committee and board are reviewing now.”

PDS pursued installation of an insulated roof and insulated windows during the down years of the recent recession when construction activities were considerably less expensive. Costs were paid from reserve funds that had been set aside for building maintenance.

The noted audit recommends upgrades to the building’s lighting, from common fluorescent tubes to LED fixtures. It also recommends moving from the 56 individual electric HVAC units that heat and cool the building to a central heat pump system. The individual HVAC units are the same as are used in many hotel rooms.

Gordon suggests the PDS Management Board may make its decision on upgrades by the end of the calendar year.

ROW Management System Shows Life Cycle ROI close to $200,000

Posted on October 07, 2016
The LINK-GIS partnerships were recognized recently at a national conference in California for their return on investment (ROI) and coordination success over the last six years. Software giant Accela which is responsible for the software LINK-GIS uses for right-of-way management (ROWM) hosted the conference.

Trisha Brush, GISP, director of LINK-GIS administration for PDS, spoke at the conference to showcase the successes that the partnerships have experienced using the Accela ROWM software and explained the close-to $200,000 ROI enjoyed by several local jurisdictions.

Those success stories included the City of Covington, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and Campbell County Fiscal Court to name a few. Brush also highlighted the use of pavement condition index (PCI) ratings and how they can aid in being proactive when planning paving projects. Kenton County Fiscal Court is currently completing a PCI for part of its road maintenance system and will use the LINK-GIS software for illustrating its findings.

To local public works and utility officials, this news is no surprise as the partnerships and local utilities continue to engage in opportunities to coordinate pavement and roadway maintenance activities planned over the last six years. The online LINK-GIS tool called Accela ROWM aids in increased communication and coordination for street cuts and paving projects in Kenton and Campbell Counties.

This is the sixth construction season that the online tool has been made available by the two partnerships. The results cut down frustrations felt by the motoring public and decreases the need for pavement cuts.

Representatives from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, 22 cities, the water and sanitation districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6, Duke Energy, Owen Electric, Time Warner Cable and Cincinnati Bell are using the software as a  service tool to manage projects.

The two LINK-GIS partnerships include Campbell and Kenton County Fiscal Courts, the Campbell County PVA, the Northern Kentucky Water District, Sanitation District #1, and PDS.

Contact PDS staff at 859.331.8980 if you would like to learn more about Accela ROWM and how it can assist in saving tax dollars for your community.

Staff works with local jurisdictions to bring about HB422 compliance

Posted on October 07, 2016
House Bill 422 enacted by the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly took effect July 15, 2016. Local jurisdictions must be compliant by January 1, 2017, meaning local code enforcement programs must make changes soon.

PDS staff is working diligently to make sure each of the 15 jurisdictions who depend on PDS for code enforcement are prepared for Day 1 of the new regulations.

Staff and PDS legal counsel Garry Edmondson hosted a meeting on August 31st with local officials to discuss changes that need to be made at the local level to come into compliance with House Bill 422. Attendance was good with most jurisdictions being represented.

“Each jurisdiction needs to update its local code enforcement ordinance,” says Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Director of Planning and Zoning at PDS. “Any ordinance that references KRS 381.770 and 82.700 needs to be updated, since these sections of the code have been consolidated in Chapter 65.” The noted statutes were the basis for code enforcement programs across the commonwealth before HB422.

Local nuisance ordinances also need to be updated at the local level to reflect the changes in state law. HB422 removed references to KRS 82.700 and consolidated them into Chapter 65. Edmondson has worked over the past several months to craft a model nuisance ordinance for consideration by all Kenton County jurisdictions.

“I took a comprehensive look at all the local nuisance ordinances and consolidated their language into one model,” says Edmondson. “The model also incorporates updates needed to come into compliance with House Bill 422. If we can get most jurisdictions--especially the 11 who are members of the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board—to adopt the model nuisance code, it will go a long way toward improving the efficiency of the code enforcement process.”  

House Bill 422 extended the authority of code enforcement boards to enforce all civil offences, including nuisance codes. Cities and counties will no longer need a separate nuisance board. Code enforcement boards may handle all civil violations, reducing administrative costs associated with multiple boards.

The bill also extended lien priority provisions to all code enforcement violations. This includes civil and zoning code violations, not just nuisance code violations.

In order to obtain and maintain this lien priority, local governments must implement a system for notifications to lienholders and allow lienholders time to remediate or abate violations. PDS staff is creating a lienholder notification system, utilizing its TRAKiT code enforcement software to meet this requirement for joint code enforcement board jurisdictions.

With this added responsibility of administering a lienholder registry, several Kenton County cities are considering disbanding their individual code enforcement boards and joining the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board.

The Lakeside Park City Council discussed the issue during its September 12th meeting.

“It just makes sense,” says Lakeside Park Mayor David Jansing. “This new legislation increases the time our city staff would have to spend to administer our code enforcement board. By joining the Kenton County Joint Code Enforcement Board, we can reduce our costs and still meet the needs of our community to effectively address code violations.”  

Staff begins ten-year review of One Stop Shop codes admin program

Posted on October 06, 2016

It’s been ten years since the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC; now PDS) established its One Stop Shop Codes Administration Program. Much about the program has changed over that time period. PDS staff is pursuing an in-depth review of the program, its finances, the services it provides, and those being requested by member jurisdictions.

The goal is to assure that the program meets the needs of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions in the future as well as it has these first ten years.

“Initiating the One Stop Shop program was relatively easy,” recalls Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director at the time and now. “It was born out of one of those a-ha moments when people come together, agree on a goal and a course of action, and move ahead.”

Gordon says the “common sense” that led to the creation of the program also prompted a number of the changes through which it has come. He cites the number of jurisdictions served as a prime example of the change. ‘One Stop Shop’ as it’s commonly called today started out serving eight jurisdictions. The program serves 19 today with a number of services.

In 2005 the program provided zoning administration, zoning enforcement, property maintenance code enforcement, building code administration, and staff support to eight local boards of adjustment. Today the program provides those services plus staff support to a joint board of adjustment board serving seven jurisdictions.

There were no code enforcement boards in 2005, but today the program provides staff support to a joint code enforcement board serving 11 jurisdictions and four single-city boards. Nuisance codes are now part of the services provided along with permits and inspections for HVAC systems, a requirement handed down by the state.

Participating jurisdictions have requested consideration of additional services to be provided by PDS. That list includes a vacant foreclosed property registry and support for administering an urban vacant property tax. According to Gordon, funding will be the primary guide as to whether these services can be accommodated.

One Stop Shop started with a somewhat detailed funding plan in 2005. That plan called on applicants to pay a portion of the cost for the services they needed, participating jurisdictions to pay a percentage of the costs associated with providing the service, and NKAPC/PDS to cover the balance. The addition of services and communities served have made the original funding plan difficult and time consuming to administer. Gordon says staff is looking for a simpler way to account for costs.

“Because of the January 1st deadline imposed on several of the services we provide, we need to wrap up this review soon,” says Gordon. “A number of the changes we anticipate—particularly funding issues—won’t take effect until July 1, 2017 but we still need to get this information to those we serve as quickly as possible so they can make the decisions right for their citizens.”

For explanations of other services being provided currently as mentioned here, please read the first article is this newsletter, Staff works with local jurisdictions to bring about HB422 compliance.

State wrestles with provisions of, timing for new state building code

Posted on September 01, 2016
Building Codes in Kentucky have been mandated and updated since the early 1980’s. Whether they will be updated in 2017 is in the hands of two taskforces established by the Kentucky Board of Housing. Both groups are reviewing the 2015 code published by the International Code Council (ICC), the organization from which all 50 states obtain their model codes.

The International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, and resilient structures.

The two task forces—one for the Kentucky Building Code and another for the Kentucky Residential Code—have been reviewing the 2015 International Code to see what, if any, changes need to be made to the ICC model for the codes that will be enforced throughout Kentucky.

The taskforces are made up of those with specific interests in the industry such as code/fire officials, design professionals, and builders. Each group was tasked to review the document with their respective peers and then to meet to and discuss the significant changes. Whatever proposed changes survive that process are then forwarded on for consideration.

PDS’ Chief Building Official, Brian Sims, CBO, sits on one of these taskforces as a representative for the Code Administrators Association of Kentucky. “The 2015 International Code is a positive move forward as it helps the building industry keep up with changes in technology. It also helps to clarify items in the current code that were once vague and subject to interpretation,” says Sims.

National model codes are updated every three years based on comments and suggestions from the states, counties, and cities that use them. Once updated, the national models are then distributed to and considered by these jurisdictions who make changes to fit their needs.

The model’s purpose is to establish minimum/maximum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment.

The Kentucky working groups have been given a working timeframe and will need to have their findings formulated and presented to the Board of Housing prior to its November 2016 meeting. If approved, the updated Kentucky Building Code and Kentucky Residential Code would be made effective by mid-2017 to allow a grace period for those projects currently being designed.

FY17 staff work program includes reorganizing operations, budget

Posted on September 01, 2016
PDS operations will be prepared to transition to a new model in the interest of greater accountability by the end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2017). Whether that transition is authorized depends on staff work to be accomplished between now and the end of the fiscal year’s third quarter.

The organization is structured currently on a departmental basis. If authorized by the PDS Management Board and Council, it would move to a structure focused on programs administered today by the staff.

PDS has operated for several decades within a structure of four main departments—planning and zoning, infrastructure engineering, GIS, and building codes with services provided by an administrative staff. Being structured in this manner meant funding from a budget built around these categories and direction from a work program based on them.

And, while this structure has worked, it has made answering questions difficult about the various programs that are administered by staff. PDS executive director Dennis Gordon asserts that programs are more the focus of inquiries—be they funding or direction oriented—than are departments.

“People couldn’t care less about how our staff is divided,” he says. “They’re familiar with the programs we administer and, as such, frame their questions to us in those terms. We answer their questions eventually after pulling numbers from this department and that department and totaling them… a process that is time consuming and less than transparent.”

Gordon suggests the departmental focus also makes it difficult to compare revenues and expenditures for individual programs.

Take for example PDS’ One Stop Shop codes administration program that enforces building codes, property maintenance codes, and zoning codes for 16 of Kenton County’s 20 local governments. Answering questions about the revenue and expenditures of the program takes time and a calculator because those functions are located within two of PDS’ departments—planning and zoning and building codes.

Another example covers services provided to the Kenton County Planning Commission. Members of that 20-member board deal with staff from two departments as they pursue their responsibilities. Those are planning and zoning and infrastructure engineering. More examples exist.

Under a structure approved preliminarily by the PDS Council and Management Board, the four departments give way to four programming areas that cut across the PDS staff. They are Kenton County Planning Commission, the One Stop Shop program, GIS, and General Governmental Services.

“Our elected and appointed officials have approved this transition in concept; now it’s up to staff to provide the tools to make it work,” said Gordon. “Our first task is to slice and dice the current departmental budget—both revenues and expenditures—into one that’s structured along program lines. We’ll report our financial activities throughout FY17 in both formats so they can make the necessary comparisons.”

Gordon says the ongoing assessment of the programming focus will run through the third quarter of FY17—roughly next February. That’s when work on the FY18 budget begins. If PDS officials are happy with the transparency that results from the new structure, staff will build next year’s budget and work objectives around the four program areas. If they’re not, staff will begin looking for another way to provide the accountability and transparency everybody wants.

Gordon believes officials will like the result. “We’re optimistic this will work or we wouldn’t have exhibited the enthusiasm we’ve shown. It’s going to be a lot of work to be sure, particularly for our accountant who’s responsible for time reports and financial books. But, she was the one who called our attention to the ‘programming-focused’ approach after attending a national public finance officers’ conference a year ago.”

“She’s going into this with her eyes wide open,” Gordon concluded. “We’re confident this is a good move.”

Latonia residents continue small area study implementation efforts

Posted on September 01, 2016

Residents, business leaders, and Covington officials embarked on creating a new plan for the Latonia neighborhood in November 2009. The plan they finalized in early 2011 was crafted with implementation as a key recommendation for moving forward.

The Strategic Action Committee still meets monthly to discuss the plan’s objectives and move its recommendations into reality.

“The Committee has done a lot of great things over the years to implement the plan,” said Kate Esarey Greene, Program Manager for Community Development with The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington. “From building a new park at Latonia Elementary to strategic façade improvement programs to National Register of Historic Places designations, the Committee has constantly sought to move the neighborhood, and the plan forward.”

The plan was crafted by a community-driven endeavor which was managed by PDS throughout 2010. The Latonia Small Area Study became a formal part of the county’s comprehensive plan in February 2011. Since that time the written recommendations have been brought to life with citizen engagement, management by the Center for Great Neighborhoods, and assistance from PDS and city officials.

“The Latonia study was my first large-scale project to manage,” explained James Fausz, AICP, a senior planner for PDS. “One of the things I enjoyed the most was meeting people from the neighborhood and helping them focus their efforts to make their community even better. It was a pleasure working with them to craft the plan and it has been even more rewarding seeing the plan’s success through working with the Strategic Action Committee.”

Donna Horine, a lifelong Latonia resident, study Task Force member, and original member of the Strategic Action Committee explained, “We [the Committee] have had the chance to do some really fun things to help implement the plan.”

“I think a lot of the projects have helped make people more aware of Latonia and what it has to offer. Things like the video, working with local Realtors on what Latonia is about, and even the 5k bringing people into the community have helped us move the area forward from the plan we made a few years back,” she said.

While much has been accomplished, there is still more work needed to implement the plan fully. Longer term recommendations like redeveloping the Latonia Plaza Shopping Center, increasing tree canopy coverage to aid in reducing stormwater runoff, and improving east-west mobility south of the study area to reduce freight traffic will likely take many years and the continued efforts of interested citizens to move forward.

If you would like to get involved with the Strategic Action Committee or find out more about its activities, contact Kate Esarey Greene with The Center for Great Neighborhoods or call her at 859.547.5552.

The Latonia Strategic Action Committee meets the 4th Thursday of each month at 6:00 PM at the Latonia Christian Church. Guests are always welcomed.

GIS director to take part in 2017 Leadership Northern Kentucky class

Posted on September 01, 2016
Trisha Brush, GISP, director of GIS administration at PDS since 2002, is included among 52 individuals selected as members of the 2017 class of Leadership Northern Kentucky (LNK). The announcement of the new class was made earlier this month by Impact Northern Kentucky.

Impact Northern Kentucky is a nonprofit arm of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. One of its primary responsibilities is operating the annual classes of Leadership Northern Kentucky and Regional Youth Leadership.

“I’m excited to be selected for the 2017 Leadership class,” said Brush. “I look forward to working hand in hand with new faces and learning more about different perspectives as we engaging in issues facing the region. I also want to help my team mates understand the power of location intelligence technology and how it can aid in analysis showing data patterns and trends while bringing clarity to proposed solutions.”

Just as its counterparts across the US do, LNK uses the community as a classroom to develop leaders to effectively serve the region. These programs are designed to help a diverse group of potential, emerging, and existing community leaders acquire an understanding of the strengths and challenges of the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area, and the skills necessary to motivate and engage others in collaborative efforts to address them.

The 52 participants of the Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2017 will participate in an eight-month-long program representing a cross section of the community, including business, government, education, media, non-profit agencies, health services and community organizations.

“I’m excited to get started! We’ve selected what promises to be an engaging group for this year and I’m looking forward to working with them as we focus on ‘Cultivating Community,’” explained LNK 2017 Chair, Jason Reed of Edmondson and Associates.

Developers, elected officials meet on cost recovery for inspections

Posted on July 29, 2016
Members of the PDS Council discussed the growing gap between infrastructure inspection costs and fees that are paid to cover them during their March meeting. Staff initiated a review process in May to determine what it would take to cover those costs as well as how and when to accomplish the goal. These fees were last reviewed and increased in 2008.

Subdivision inspection fees are paid by developers as they develop new subdivisions; they cover inspections primarily for earthwork, grading, and storm sewer and street construction.

“In previous years the Kenton County Planning Commission set the subdivision inspection fees that developer paid,” said Scott Hiles, CPC, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “It would then hand those funds over to staff when they provided the required inspections. It was a cumbersome process.”

The county planning commission decided earlier this year that the task would be administered better by PDS that provides the inspections.

The first thing that staff did was to go back and do a comprehensive review of fees that were paid and compare them to the expenses that were incurred from staff doing the inspections. The fee and expense information collected dated back to 2001.

“We found that the fees were covering only 70 percent of the cost to do the work”, said Hiles. “Our directive from PDS Council was to make sure that fees paid for 100 percent.”

Subdivision inspection work performed by staff that is not covered by fees is paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Staff then formed a subdivision inspection fee committee made up of members of the Home Builders Association and elected officials to discuss their findings. They started meeting monthly beginning in May. Committee members discussed various methods for collecting fees but discussion centered on the 30 percent gap between fees and expenses.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask the taxpayers to subsidize 30 percent of a developer’s for-profit subdivision,” said David Jansing, Mayor of Lakeside Park and one of the committee members. “We need a fee increase so that fees cover the cost to do the inspections”.

Staff hopes to conclude its work by the end of summer at which time it will forward the proposed new fee schedule to the PDS Management Board for review and approval. Hiles believes the resulting increase will probably be effective on January 1st.

The consensus of the committee agreed with Mayor Jansing and has instructed staff to propose a fee increase at the next committee meeting that would close the gap between fees and expenses. Staff is currently preparing that proposal and the next committee meeting is scheduled for July 28th at 5:30 p.m. at PDS.

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