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Report of Covington Commission meeting: Restructuring of development department and more


By Monica Beavers
City of Covington

A transformational restructure of the Development Department was approved Tuesday night by the Board of Commissioners.

Five new police officers were hired, the purchase of 32 new police vehicles and new body cameras was approved.

Proposed zoning changes for the former Gateway Community and Technical College “hilltop” advanced in light of anticipated development of the site off Amsterdam Road.

Restructuring of the Development Department

Assistant City Manager for Development Larisa Sims has accepted a position as Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Newport.

Sims began her career with the City of Covington in November 2009. She managed and had been involved in numerous projects including Hotel Covington, Duveneck Square, Lincoln Grant Scholar House, Braxton Brewery, Riverfront Commons, Center City Action Plan and various others all the while creating an exemplary Development Department.

City Manager Larry Klein recommended restructuring of the development department to move City Engineer Mike Yeager into a new Development Director/City Engineer position and to have Economic Development Manager Geoff Milz and Department of Public Improvements and Assistant City Engineer Rick Davis take on more responsibilities.

In addition, three new positions have been created: Economic Development Specialist, full-time Code Enforcement Manager, and an additional Assistant City Engineer to manage several of the capital and infrastructure projects that are underway.

“This restructuring plan puts additional resources into our key focus areas of economic development, code enforcement, and project management for the many large scale projects the City has going on right now,” stated Klein.

Police Department Hires Patrol Officers; Makes Technology Advancements

Tuesday’s meeting included additional staffing changes as five Grade 1 Patrol Officer positions were filled by Michael Keene, Matthew Raabe, Jeffrey Osborne, Kevin Igo and Matthew Regan, effective July 31.

The Mayor and Commissioners approved the purchase of 32 new vehicles and authorized a contract with Taser Axon International approving a five-year contract for the Police Department’s Taser Axon body worn camera systems.

The Covington Police Department’s Body Worn Camera program has been in existence since 2010.

In the program’s third generation, the new body worn cameras come with state of the art capabilities in video evidence, collection and storage, redaction capabilities, and product durability storing all data in a cloud based portal system.

New Software Approved Implementing Advancements in Efficiency

The City has been working to upgrade software throughout each department to assist in case management and serve as a means to streamline the City’s operations. The Mayor and Commissioners approved a contract with Accela, Inc. and Avocette Technologies, Inc.

Zoning Changes and Improvements

A contract with Graydon Head Land Use was approved allowing the company to do a comprehensive evaluation of the City’s current Zoning Ordinance. Graydon will review the ordinance to ensure it aligns with the City’s development plans serving as a means to promote Covington’s vision as opposed to prohibiting future goals. The review will also examine the City’s existing social service uses in the zoning ordinance.

Potential Rezoning and Development of 1025 Amsterdam Road

The Mayor and Commissioners authorized the filing of an application with the Kenton County Planning Commission to initiate a map amendment to the Covington Zoning Ordinance changing 1025 Amsterdam Road from RU-2 Urban Residential to R-2 Urban Residential Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Upon the relocation of Gateway Community and Technical College from its “hilltop” campus on Amsterdam Road to its Urban Metro Campus in downtown Covington, the zoning change is related to the potential reuse and redevelopment of the property. While the 18.8 acre parcel located in Covington is one of the three properties comprising the 25.95 acre Hilltop Campus, the other two additional parcels are located in Park Hills.

The City of Park Hills is also moving forward with an application to the Kenton County Planning Commission to change the zoning to a PUD in regard to their portion of the campus.

If approved, the PUD will allow for a mixture of land uses through flexible regulations to encourage creative design. As a result, developers will gain latitude to maximize the potential of the property.

The two cities plan to work together with PDS to evaluate the highest and best use of the Gateway Hilltop Campus Site creating one shared vision for the redevelopment.


CMAQ Grant & Riverfront Commons Project Update

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Mayor and Commissioners approved an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) in accepting $3.9 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant money.

The CMAQ grant will assist in funding the Riverfront Commons Project between Riverside Place and Madison Avenue including: a roundabout at the foot of Riverside Place, walking trails, a public plaza, lighting, decorative fencing and landscaping.

The grant will also fund the West Walk from Madison Avenue up to the sidewalk along Highway Avenue developing a multi-use path of the river side of the levee. It will include lighting and an up and over the levee component that ties in near the Brent Spence Bridge to provide better connectivity to the hotels. This is part of a four city grant including Ludlow, Bellevue and Newport.

To view the Riverfront Commons Project renderings, please click here.

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