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Covington Commissioners hear new zoning code update, approve FY21 budget, set in-person meeting

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Hundreds of years ago, parts of Covington were developed without any kind of code, and it’s a problem the city has been dealing with ever since, officials say.

In order to help finally solve the issue, Commissioners heard a draft of a new Neighborhood Development Code in a one-hour presentation at their regularly-scheduled legislative meeting Tuesday night. The Commission again met virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions (although Mayor Joseph U. Meyer did note this would be the last virtual meeting for the foreseeable future).

The presentation, produced by the Kendig Keast Collaborative, said the new code will be Internet-based and user-friendly, where anyone can find anything about their properties all in one place.

For the last 16 months, the Collaborative has been studying the existing code, streamlining procedures and participating in public engagement opportunities. Since February 2019, the group has met with architects, Habitat for Humanity, business leaders, historic preservation advocates, realtors, brokers, builders, developers and held two neighborhood meetings to gain opinions and input.

Residents can:

• Review information on district maps 

• See examples of landscaping, signs and building types

• Read about parking, dimensional and design standards

“We do encourage, not only members of the Commission but the public, to look at this,” Mayor Meyer said. “Go online and look.”

He noted that the purpose of the project is to clarify the zoning code and “put it into English” so everyone can understand the rules.

The Collaborative hopes to have a draft of the new code ready for a Kenton County Planning Commission public hearing on Aug. 6, with a first reading for the Covington Commission Sept. 15.

To see the project, click here.

Highland Avenue Development gets first reading

Commissioners heard a first reading on a map amendment for the 1400 Highland Ave. housing project that had been previously tabled. Commissioners were originally concerned with the plan, which involves putting a 132-unit, five-building apartment complex on 14.94 acres at Henry Clay and Highland Avenue.

At issue is the age-old problem of flooding in the Peaselburg neighborhood. Three separate residents emailed the Commission this week stating their displeasure with the proposed development.

“The flooding in Peaselburg is terrible,” Economic Development Director Tom West told the Commission last week. But he noted that it doesn’t all come from that side, saying that this development would “move the needle in the right direction” toward helping relieve the problem.

Last week, Mayor Meyer noted the development would reduce the flow of water, add population growth (which is beneficial to the city), and convert the land from a nonprofit piece of property to a paying one. Tuesday night, he said he’d reached out to the residents who were concerned, and personally talked with the developers to make sure they would still be available should their plans for curbing the drainage problem not work.

The developer, PLK Communities, said they would keep those communication lines open should that occur, the Mayor said.

The amendment will get a second reading and a vote at the Commission’s next legislative meeting on July 21.

FY21 budget approved

Commissioners unanimously approved Covington’s fiscal year ’21 budget with an official vote Tuesday night.

With a projected $57,624,900 in expenditures and $55,971,932 in revenue, the budget will force the city to dip into reserve funds to the tune of $1.7 million to make ends meet. It’s a situation Mayor Meyer admitted he was not pleased with, but something he said they would have to do, given the city’s projected fiscal circumstances.

No more discussion was needed for the budget, which had been worked on for weeks leading up to tonight’s vote.

“I think we’ve talked it to death, Joe,” Commissioner Michelle Williams said, laughing.

Emails call for police de-funding

Five separate residents emailed Commissioners this week to request funding for city police to be redistributed to other areas. One resident suggested the funds could be earmarked for programs that would “uplift our communities.” Another suggested the money be allocated to develop housing opportunities for low-income individuals. Mayor Meyer said the Commissioners would review all emailed suggestions.

City Hall to reopen

Mayor Meyer announced that the City Hall lobby will reopen to the public Monday, July 6.

Next meeting in person

Mayor Meyer said the next Commission meeting, which will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., July 14, will be held face-to-face, ending the virtual format the city had been utilizing for the past few months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The next regularly-scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., July 14 at City Hall at 20 W. Pike St.

See the NKyTribune’s story about the Neighborhood Development Code here.

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