What's New?

Four cities modernize their zoning codes with assistance from PDS

Posted on September 10, 2021

A new era of planning and zoning in Kenton County launched in Spring 2021 with the unveiling of an ordinance that creates a modern and more user-and business-friendly zoning code.

The Kenton County Z21 effort updates existing zoning codes that were adopted decades ago with a flexible, streamlined and simpler ordinance that communities throughout the county can customize to meet their individual needs.

The City of Villa Hills was the first community in Kenton County embracing the new zoning ordinance. Subsequently, the Cities of Independence, Erlanger and Elsmere have also updated their codes. 

Along with more ease of use, standardized code sections and the ability of communities and customize the code to meet its needs, other benefits include:

  • Improved efficiency, flexibility, simplicity and predictability;

  • An online platform that can be easily searched and cross-referenced;

  • A streamlined approval process;

  • Utilizing Link-GIS to ensure existing neighborhoods match the new zoning standards;

  • Protecting the unique character of compatible infill development through architectural standards for commercial and residential buildings and infill development incentives;

  • Protecting environmental, cultural and historic resources through floodplain hillside development standards, tree preservation requirements, stream buffers.

The newly adopted codes for these cities may be viewed Here

Engineering, GIS staffs collaborate on asset inventories

Posted on June 29, 2020

PDS’ infrastructure inspection and GIS staffs completed and delivered two asset inventory projects recently. The Erlanger project was comprehensive in nature, requiring an inspector to walk 120 miles of city sidewalk and curb to record the GPS coordinates of every pavement failure along with its type and severity. The inspector also pursued a pavement condition assessment for 60 miles of street while walking them. The project took three months to complete.

The Villa Hills project was the first of four annual installments. Like the Erlanger effort, this project required an inspector to walk 18 miles of sidewalk and curb to record the GPS coordinates of each pavement failure along with its type and severity. This project took one month to complete.

PDS’ GIS staff took these data, plotted the location of each failure on a map, created an electronic dashboard as a means for city personnel to interact with the data, and served up the deliverable to the city. Each GPS point on the map ties to an electronic database of ratings: Very Good; Good; Fair; Poor; and Very Poor to classify pavement condition.

Inventories like these are undertaken generally during winter months when street and sidewalk construction is slow. In the past, staff from these two departments have collaborated on similar projects for Covington, Park Hills, Elsmere, and Kenton County.

Click image for a larger view


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.”

Historic Northern Kentucky Treasure Gets Boost from New Fund

Posted on March 06, 2020

Horizon Community Funds announces new conservation efforts for Licking River watershed

Covington, KY – Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky has joined community partners to establish the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund, which supports land and water conservation and greenway initiatives in the Licking River watershed.

“This is an exciting, and critical, fund for us to offer Northern Kentucky,” says Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “It shows the breadth of partnerships we’re able to create as a community foundation serving Northern Kentucky. Together, we can better address the many diverse needs of our community, including helping to preserve the natural and historical heritage of the Licking River.”

Through the new fund Horizon Community Funds and supporting donors will gather financial resources to invest in the conservation and stewardship of the Licking River, while helping to raise awareness of its value as a natural, historical, and economic resource.

The Licking River, named for the many prehistoric salt springs and licks in the region, is a historic and natural treasure for both Northern Kentucky and the Commonwealth. With ties to Native American history, the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and the state’s original bourbon journey, the Licking River watershed also sustains a wide range of biodiversity and boasts more mussel species than the entire continent of Africa.

Within the Northern Kentucky area, most of the Licking River watershed exists in Campbell and Kenton counties. Several creeks in the area act as tributaries to the river. 

For more information or to make a gift to the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund at Horizon Community Funds, visit www.horizonfunds.org or call 859.757.1552.

Comments from Project Partners:

Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County Judge Executive: “The Licking River is an incredible natural resource in our community. The Conservation and Greenway Fund will be another tool available to help protect this asset and make it accessible to folks for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, camping and a whole host of outdoor activities. The work to restore and conserve the Licking River watershed will be generational, but all great efforts start with seemingly small steps forward that compound significantly over time. If you want to be a part of potentially the largest land and water conservation effort in Kenton County’s history, let me know. We want to work with you.”

Steve Pendery, Campbell County Judge Executive: “The Licking River is central to the story of Northern Kentucky. The streams of twenty-three Kentucky counties lead to this place, and hundreds of years of the Commonwealth’s history flow along with it. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund fills a gap in the tools available to our community to conserve and activate this natural asset. I appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ partnership in creating this mechanism, and hope that it fulfills its potential to assist in conserving and restoring the watershed’s corridor. This is a long-term project, but I’m excited at the steps being taken forward and am confident that our younger generations will see it through and celebrate its success.”   

Rich Boehne, Horizon Community Funds Council of Trustees: “Setting up this conservation and greenway fund, and bringing the many tools of Horizon Community Funds to the effort, will be foundational in reaching long-term goals for development of the Licking River as a leading destination for recreational and environmental tourism. The fund also will be a platform for supporting and facilitating investments in the conservation and health of this critical watershed that binds together a significant portion of the Commonwealth.”

Amy Winkler, District Coordinator of Campbell County Conservation District: “The opportunity that has arisen and made possible through the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund has connected numerous organizations for the purpose of land conservation and recreational uses. The Campbell County Conservation District looks forward to working with these groups through our common goal of being good stewards of the land and highlighting the natural beauty of the Licking River Corridor. Our Hawthorne Crossing Conservation Area is just one step toward conserving the Licking River corridor in Campbell County.”

Chris Kaeff, Kenton County Soil & Water Conservation District: “On the map, it may serve as the official boundary line between the counties, but in reality, the Licking River brings the people of Northern Kentucky together. It is an essential feature of our shared landscape, our shared heritage, and our shared future. The new Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund will provide critical resources to the public agencies and nonprofits, on both sides of the river, who are dedicated to improving the health and vitality of this magnificent waterway. The Kenton County Conservation District welcomes the opportunity to work with new partners through the Fund in order to protect the natural beauty of the Morning View Heritage Area and enhance public recreational access to the river.”

Donavan Hornsby, Campbell County Conservancy: "As stewards of the land, Northern Kentucky residents and stakeholders have an opportunity to elevate land conservation and stream restoration to the same level of reverence and commitment afforded by the community to values such as public safety, education, and economic vitality. Many recognize that these core values are interdependent and crucial to our collective future. Realization of our potential as a region will require acceleration and deepening of conservation's impacts. We greatly appreciate Horizon Community Funds’ commitment to and investment in that realization."

Wade Johnston, Director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella: "Many of us drive over the Licking River on a daily basis, but few have an opportunity to interact with the scenic and historic waterway. The unprecedented multi-jurisdictional effort to conserve and celebrate the Licking River corridor will make this amazing asset more accessible to Northern Kentuckians. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund is a critical tool to enable the community to take part in preserving this natural resource for future generations.”

About Horizon Community Funds 

Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky is a qualified public charitable 501(c)(3) organization established as a community foundation in 2017 by Northern Kentucky leaders. Its mission is to unite resources to raise the quality of life for all people in the Northern Kentucky community. Learn more at www.horizonfunds.org

PDS is moving!

Posted on August 20, 2019
PDS will be relocating soon. To accommodate the move, we will be adjusting our services temporarily according to the following schedule.

Thursday, September 12th - Open at current location for permits and inspections only.
Friday, September 13th - Closed for business at 2332 Royal Drive.

New Address: 1840 Simon Kenton Way, Covington
Monday, September 16th - Open for permits and inspections only.

Tuesday, September 17th - Return to full operations; 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Click the map below for a larger view

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

Thank you for your patience, and we’ll see you at our new office building!

New app for reporting Kenton County road issues is available

Posted on July 19, 2019
Over the past year, Kenton County Technology Services has been working on developing a way for our residents to report road issues to our Public Works Department.

One of our challenges is that residents often do not know who is responsible for each road they use. When citizens contact us to report a road problem, our staff must identify who is responsible for that road, and either forward the complaint to the appropriate contact, or refer the resident elsewhere if it is not County maintained.

In an effort to address this problem, Kenton County has partnered with LINK-GIS at Planning and Development Services of Kenton County to develop Kenton County Road Reporter - a low cost solution to road issue reporting that will serve all our residents, and hopefully help our cities.

This web-based survey form is mobile-friendly and includes a map that residents can use to report a road issue anywhere in the county. Once they submit the survey, the system identifies which agency maintains that road, and sends an email notification including all the information from the survey to the email address on file for that agency.

There is no charge or fee for use of this system, and all Kenton County cities are by default opted in. The email address initially set up for each city is from their public works department, where applicable. If no email address was found for the public works department, the City Manager, Administrator, or Mayor was chosen. These individuals received a separate email to inform them their email address has been registered, with instructions on how to change it or opt out if necessary.

Public Open House for southern Kenton County

Posted on July 15, 2019
The Kenton County Fiscal Court is holding a public open house on July 22, 2019 to display findings of a research effort for the future of southern Kenton County. If you live, work, play, or learn in southern Kenton County, please plan to attend the meeting anytime between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on July 22, 2019 at Piner Baptist Church (15044 Madison Pike, Morning View, KY 41063).

Over the last several months, the Fiscal Court has been working with Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS) staff to conduct in-depth research for the south Kenton area. The effort has reviewed everything from natural features to the location of infrastructure to gain as clear a picture as possible before moving from research to the planning phase. Now, the county would like to get your input on the research to date and any additional research needs before moving to the next phase of the project.

To best display the research, a public open house will be held to provide participants an opportunity to learn about topics in-depth, ask questions of staff, and provide input for official consideration. As the meeting is an open house, people can come any time that is convenient between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

This meeting is part of an ongoing project seeking to update the Direction 2030 comprehensive plan for all communities in Kenton County. This specific meeting will present research on existing conditions, describe trends that could impact southern Kenton County, and establish a foundation for updating the plan for the unincorporated area in the next phase of the project. The associated research builds upon public involvement efforts that started in 2011, continued via surveys that were distributed to all south Kenton County addresses in 2014 and 2016, and is ongoing in the form of the South Kenton Citizens Group.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a strong public-engagement process intended to prepare Kenton County for the challenges and possibilities of the future. For more information, visit the project website at www.direction2030.org.

Public encouraged to participate in updating award-winning plan

Posted on July 09, 2019
Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) members seek your input to make sure proposed changes to its award-winning Direction 2030 comprehensive plan reflect the desires of the community. If you live, work, play, or learn in Kenton County, please visit Direction2030.org/draft-changes by July 22 to provide your thoughts.

It has been five short years since the KCPC adopted Kenton County’s comprehensive plan. State law requires that comprehensive plans across the commonwealth be reviewed and revised as necessary every five years.

“When we created Direction 2030, we set out to make a new kind of plan that was more flexible and responsive to changes in our fast-paced world,” explained Jeff Bethell, chair of KCPC’s Implementation Committee. “We have already worked with the public and made some amendments to the plan based on specific topics. Now, we want to step back and take a more thorough look at the overall recommendations and get people’s input as we move towards that magic five-year anniversary mark.”

KCPC is requesting public review and input on draft changes that have been identified by its staff and experts ranging from utilities to transportation officials to the development community. The review and comment period will take place over the next two weeks and will allow interested persons to review the draft text and map changes, and then provide comments directly on the website.

“Conducting an online review and input session is a first in our comprehensive planning efforts,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long Range Planning Manager for Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS), the planning commission’s staff.

“Seeing as the plan exists only online, we felt an online review was most appropriate for the proposed changes. The format gives people a chance to get into the plan’s details and see how everything will function if adopted by KCPC.”

After the review period closes, PDS staff will compile comments and provide them to the KCPC’s Implementation Committee. That group will decide on any appropriate changes before finalizing and submitting the final draft to the full Commission for official consideration.

The plan is scheduled for a public hearing before the full KCPC on September 5, 2019 starting at 6:15 p.m. Details on the final draft changes and location for the meeting are anticipated to be available in August.

Direction 2030: Your Voice, Your Choice is a strong public-engagement process intended to prepare Kenton County for the challenges and possibilities of the future. For more information, visit the project website at Direction2030.org.

Staff Members Win Toastmasters Contest

Posted on February 22, 2019
Christy Powell and Trisha BrushPDS staff members Trisha Brush and Christy Powell won their respective speech contests on a recent Saturday and will be advancing to the next level in Lexington in March. Both are members of the Northern Kentucky Toastmasters club that meets at PDS at noon on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. This club is part of Toastmasters International.

According the Toastmasters International, more than 30,000 Toastmasters compete in one or more contests each year. Competition begins with club contests and winners continue competing through the area, division, district and all new region quarterfinal levels. Region quarterfinal winners advance to the International competition, where they will compete in the semifinals for a chance to take part in the World Championship of Public Speaking®.

Powell competed in the Table Topics contest. This contest challenges participants to answer a question with an impromptu speech of 1 to 2 minutes. All contestants answer the same question and don’t get the hear the previous contestants answers. Powell was excited to draw the first position in the contest so that she was able to hear the other contestants answers.

Brush won the International Speech Contest. In the International Speech Contest, contestants have to create and give an original 5 to 7 minute speech on any subject they choose. Unlike the Table Topics contest, contestants are able to watch all other speeches in the contest. Brush gave a speech about gratitude.

If Powell wins the Table Topics contest in March, there is one additional level in April with contestants from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. The International Speech contest that Brush is competing in continues to the World Championship of Public Speaking in Denver this August.

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, the organization's membership exceeds 357,000 in more than 16,600 clubs in 143 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders.

Kenton comprehensive plan updated on new schedule

Posted on August 24, 2018

The Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) has updated the county’s award-winning comprehensive plan, Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. after considerable work by the commission’s staff. State law requires that comprehensive plans be reviewed and updated by local planning commissions every five years. The KCPC adopted Direction 2030 in 2014.

Direction 2030 was originally designed to take Kenton County’s planning program in a new direction,” said James Fausz, AICP, Long-Range Planning Manager for PDS of Kenton County. PDS provides professional staff for the Kenton County Planning Commission.

“This latest round of updates continues with the plan’s new path. While the plan’s online-only format was a definite paradigm shift, reviewing and amending the plan more frequently than every five years  allows us to be more responsive to our communities’ needs. These recent amendments are a perfect example of this new direction.”

A number of Kenton County’s elected officials approached PDS staff of late, wanting to update their respective future land use maps. These maps provide direction to elected leaders and the planning commission when they’re faced with rezoning requests.

According to Fausz, the new approach of updating the plan when necessary (but no less frequently than every five years) “allowed us to respond to the cities’ needs in a more timely manner, putting them in the best position to be proactive for the future.”

The recent amendments to Direction 2030:

·        updated the Recommended Land Use map for the Cities of Bromley, Edgewood, Elsmere, Erlanger, Fort Mitchell, Independence, Ludlow, and Ryland Heights;

·        updated several elements to insert recommendations and maps from Kenton Connects, the county’s new bicycle/pedestrian plan;  

·        updated the interactive land use map to reflect the state’s more detailed proposed alignment for KY 536 from Staffordsburg Road to KY 177 and remove a proposed arterial connecting KY 16 and KY 177; and,

·        updated and amended the description for Mixed Use; and, updated the Community Service Areas for Cox Road, KY 16, KY 536, and KY 1303.

Direction 2030 may be found online. Questions should be directed to PDS at 859.331.8980.


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