A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commissioners vote unanimously to move forward with Orchard Park development

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Calling it the “next step” for the project, Mayor Joseph U. Meyer and city Commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with the contentious development of Orchard Park.

In a special legislative meeting primarily called to discuss and vote on the issue, Commissioners once again listened to comments from passionate residents — ones who disagreed with the idea to develop property that the city has been allowing them to use as greenspace.

In the end though, Commissioners said they chose what is best for all of the city, which is a plan from the Orleans Development and the Center for Great Neighborhoods as developers for the property. The plan calls for keeping 70 percent of the greenspace, as well as relocating a popular chicken coop.

On March 23, the city issued an RFP looking for a developer for 11 vacant city-owned parcels and one single family structure in the Westside neighborhood. They received five responses from developers, and a selection committee made up of economic development and neighborhood services staff ranked the submissions.

“The committee is unanimously recommending that Orleans development and The Center for Great Neighborhoods be selected,” city documents say. They would pay $150,000.

“We have been very open, very transparent and very willing to engage in citizen input,” Meyer said. “The city’s proposal is a healthy balance.”

Meyer also explained his reasoning, point by point.

Residents noted that the sales point of the proposed properties was too high — $300,000. Meyer responded that it’s $100,000 less than some of the properties located across the street. He also noted that in the last 15 years, the city has contributed $125 million in taxpayer-supported funds to upgrade or add new more than 1,000 units for low or moderate-income residents.

Ultimately, he says he still wants to work with the residents.

“We are committed to keeping the park, and we are committed to funding it and investing in it after more consultation with the residents,” he said.

Meyer also noted that the developers are “Covington people” — not someone from out of town telling them what to do.

In the end, he said it was a plan that was transparent, valuable for Covington and it was developed by a great staff doing great work.

“This development is good for the city,” Meyer said, before voting aye.

The agreement was passed.

Legal services

Commissioners voted to renew professional services with Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, to assist in providing general legal services to the city.

“The city’s Legal Department staff recommends continuing the existing relationship with Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, and one of its principal partners, Brandon N. Voelker, to enhance the city’s staffing profile and to provide general legal services to the city, under the direction of the city solicitor,” city documents say.

The agreement calls for about 75 hours of legal services per month, including written and oral advice, and possible representation, for a yearly retainer of $95,000, paid in monthly installments of $7,916.67.

Commissioners voted last week to pass over the renewal.

Williams absent again

Commissioner Michelle Williams was again absent Tuesday night; it was the second consecutive Commission meeting she has missed.

Executive session

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Meyer announced the commissioners would go into an executive session “for the purpose of discussing personnel.”

Meyer said no further business would be conducted on the floor after the session.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Aug. 3, at the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington. The meetings 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.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment