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City to hear first reading of new development code; M&M Services wants to relocate HQ to Covington

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

COVINGTON – The goals sound simple: More effective. Less costly. Less unwieldy.

The execution, however, was anything but — not because of any fault, but because the task was Herculean in nature, and because it wrapped up during a global pandemic.

Still, after about two years of planning, working, discussing, drafting and approving, it looks as though the city will now have its New Development Code.

“We’re on the backstretch now,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said Tuesday night at the City Commission’s regularly scheduled caucus meeting. “I think folks are pretty happy with this and really excited about having it implemented.”

For years, the city has suffered with what officials have called an “unworkable” zoning ordinance, and decades ago, some parts of Covington were developed without any code at all. In order to solve the issues that stemmed from such a lack of organization, Commissioners decided to move forward with something new.

The ordinances for the new code, along with those for its corresponding new maps, will have first readings at next week’s legislative meeting.

Tuesday, the Commission again met virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, and heard project manager Christopher Myers explain how we got to this point.

Myers noted how on June 23, the Kendig Keast Collaborative presented findings from their 16-month study, where they 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.

The development firm said the new code will be Internet-based and user-friendly, where anyone can find anything about their properties all in one place.

Myers then noted how on Aug. 6, the Kenton County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the new code. After two years, it seems Covington is finally on the doorstep.

Commissioners will hear the first reading next week, then hear a second reading and vote two weeks from now.

To see the project, click here.

M&M Services Incentives

“We have exciting news about new jobs coming to the East Side of Covington,” said Economic Development Director Tom West.

315 E. 15th St., Covington

In a case of another corporate headquarters interested in relocating to the city, M&M Service Station Equipment Specialists wants to bring 16 new jobs (and 48 employees) as part of a $3.26 million investment.

West explained that M&M Service, currently based in Silver Grove, has limited growth options and is looking to move, and they are considering the 100,000 square-foot manufacturing building located at 315 E. 15th St. in Helentown. The plan is to occupy 50,000 square feet and renovate it to their needs, while leasing the remainder of the space. No current tenants will be displaced.

The average salary of the M&M workers is $62,000, or 14 percent higher than Covington’s average annual salary, West said.

The city is recommending that the company receive a five-year, 1 percent payroll incentive for all new jobs they relocate and create. After paying the incentive, the city expects to collect $768,238.

“We are spreading the job growth and the wealth around the city,” West said.

The recommendation was placed on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

4Q Finances Presented

Finance Director Muhammed Owusu made a presentation Tuesday night reviewing the city’s fourth-quarter financial analysis.

“It was a year that was interesting,” he said. “It was unprecedented.” He went on to explain that it was unlike anything he’s seen in 40 years, but noted the city was “pleasantly surprised” in their numbers at the end of 2020.

Owusu explained that the city brought in almost $57 million and spent about $53.9 million, for a positive of (about) $3 million. He said the city will make its final report for the fiscal year by November or early December, but Commissioners praised the efforts of staff for the achievement — especially in the current fiscal situation.

Property Taxes Holding Pat

For the fourth year in a row, the city’s Finance Department is recommending to keep property taxes the same — .327 for real estate and .349 for personal property — and they said as much in a presentation to the Commission Tuesday night.

“This is very impressive that we are able to do this,” Commissioner Michelle Williams said.

Mayor Meyer instructed the staff to prepare an ordinance for consideration for next week, which will give the recommendation a first reading.

Second Reading Next Week

At next week’s legislative meeting, there will be a second reading of an ordinance to create a new Urban Forestry chapter.

Coogan Resigns

Frank Coogan, a city arborist and tree trimmer, has left for a similar position with the Parks of Hamilton County. The approval of his resignation will be on the consent agenda next week.

Executive Session

Commissioners ended the meeting Tuesday by entering into an Executive Session “to discuss real estate acquisition,” Meyer said.

But the Commission did not plan to reconvene, and no further action was to be taken, he said.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Sept. 15, 2020. The meeting can be followed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, the TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline, and the TBNK Roku channels.

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