A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington may change law for low-speed vehicle businesses; waste collection changes also proposed

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

They look like souped-up golf carts

But don’t call them that. They are much, much different, and for that reason, the City of Covington is thinking of changing a law it recently made to accommodate two new businesses that have been working on the other side of the river.

The City of Covington is considering changes to an ordinance that would allow low-speed Gest carts and Uggos to operate. The vehicles would transport passengers, free of charge, in certain parts of the city (provided photo).

Say hello to Gest carts, which is already open in Cincinnati and beginning a service in Newport. Another company, Oggo, wants to provide a similar service. They are, simply, low-speed vehicles that will give customers free rides around a certain portion of the city.

Commissioners heard the proposed ordinance change Tuesday night at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting.

“Sounds like a great answer to our parking problem at the moment,” Commissioner Bill Wells said.

The idea is this: These free rides, which make money by covering the vehicles in advertising, will only cover the area bordered by Philadelphia Street to the west, 12th Street/MLK to the South, the Licking River to the east, and the Ohio River to the north. The small cars will only go up to 25 miles per hour.

Last year, the city passed an ordinance banning low-speed vehicles like golf carts from operating on the streets. It was done partly to combat the possibility of courier services using golf carts to clog up city streets with deliveries.

So, in order for Gest and Oggo to offer their services, the ordinance must be updated to better define the difference between golf carts and low-speed vehicles.

“The proposed ordinance amendment will allow the operation of ‘low-speed vehicles’ within a designated area of the city,” city documents say. “The proposed revisions do not allow the operation of golf carts for the delivery of packages by a commercial parcel delivery service.”

So what is the difference between golf carts and low-speed vehicles? A lot.

For one, these low-speed vehicles require VIN numbers for licensing, as well as turn signals, headlights, taillights, seat belts and windshield wipers, among other items.

They can transport passengers in relative comfort and safety. Covington police agree the vehicles are safe and organizers say drivers will be able to act as ambassadors for the city.

“I think this fits right in with Covington and all the quirky stuff we’ve got going on here,” said Commissioner Michelle Williams.

Commissioners agreed to have a first reading on this ordinance change at their regularly scheduled legislative meeting next Tuesday.

Waste collection changes proposed

Proposed changes to the city’s waste collection policies could eliminate use of the green stickers and reduce the amount of certain fines.

The City of Covington is considering elimination of the green stickers used to identify bulk items that are too big to be placed in trash can. If approved, the change would allow one bulk item to be set out per week.

In a presentation made Tuesday night by Solid Waste Coordinator Sheila Fields, the city is hoping to eliminate the 12 green stickers given to residents each year, and instead allow one bulk item to be set out per week.

The city established the program three years ago to help reduce the waste that was sitting on curbs throughout the city.

Another change being proposed regards the amount of fines for certain offenses. While many fines were $100 or more, most will now be $25 to $100, to make them more proportional to the offense, Fields said.

“It’s a good change — heading in the right direction,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer.

Commissioners decided to have a first reading on the proposed change at next Tuesday’s legislative meeting. 

Also Tuesday:

  • City Manager David Johnston asked commissioners for permission to open negotiations with Cooper Carry, a global architecture and design firm based in Atlanta, in hopes that the company will help the city reintegrate the IRS Processing Center back into the Covington community. Johnston said that after the city issued their RFQ, they received 11 qualification packets. After forming a review panel made up of various neighborhood stakeholders, he then chose four firms to interview. “Cooper Carry provided the most balanced presentation as it related to the city’s primary objectives in the redevelopment of this property,” city documents say. Among them: Economic development helping the city recoup more than $1.2 million in losses of payroll tax. Commissioners decided to put the request on the regular agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Aug. 14, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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