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Survey: South Kenton Residents Oppose Bypass Proposal, Support Maintaining Rural Community

The results of the latest South Kenton County survey are in.

Dr. Lori Garkovich, a professor at the University of Kentucky, presented the findings on Tuesday to the Kenton County Fiscal Court in Independence. Garkovich, an authority on rural communities, gave a shorter version of the report she gave last week at Honey Hill Farms.

She first came to the South Kenton area in 1996, creating a citizen's report in 1998 called "South Kenton County: Charting a path to the Future". She came back in 2013 and sent out 3,000 surveys to which she received 1,043 responses, a 35 percent participation rate. What she has found is that the people in South Kenton prize their rural area very highly, and want to keep their piece of country near the city.

The 2016 survey focuses on land use policy and shows that the residents' feelings have not changed.

"Over the decades, there is an amazing consistency," Garkovich said. "These people are strong in maintaining their rural character. People told me, we have something unique here, and we can't afford to lose it. This is a community of like-minded people who have put down roots. You should be very proud."

From the reports

  • 47 percent of South Kenton residents want to see residential properties with at least 5 acres, while 37 percent of the nearly 900 respondents would prefer a mix of larger and smaller parcels
  • The issue of the proposed Cincinnati Eastern Bypass, a 4-lane highway from I-75 just west of Dixie Highway at Kentucky 14 through southern Kenton and Campbell Counties into Ohio, is not supported by respondents. A total of 47 percent either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the idea that elected officials in the county should support a study of the proposal, touted by local home builders, while 42 percent agree or strongly agree with supporting a study. However, 62 percent strongly disagree or disagree with the idea that elected officials should support the proposed highway. 39 percent agree or strongly agree with bypass proposal. A recent study of the project by a Clermont County, Ohio engineer indicated that the project would cost $1.8 billion. 
  • In terms of possible industry in the southern county, respondents prefer light industrial work at a rate of 80 percent. Only 3 percent support heavy industrial. 
  • For tourism, respondents prefer farm-based opportunities (89 percent), seasonal events (82 percent), and history themes (62 percent), while 45 percent support projects like a firing range.
  • It was nearly unanimous support when respondents were asked whether county officials should include agriculture in their economic development plans.
  • Maintaining the rural landscape of the southern part of the county was also supported nearly unanimously.
  • Respondents expressed a desire for planning to conserve parks and open spaces, and also to improve internet and mobile phone connectivity.
  • The three most important issues for the police to address, according to respondents are drug abuse/trafficking, burglary, and drunk or drugged driving.

Before the presentation, Gailen Bridges, an attorney and resident of Walton-Nicholson Road, spoke to the court, saying he had heard that there might be a methadone clinic placed nearby on Walton-Nicholson Road. Bridges said he did not support the idea.

Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann said that he had people investigating the report as soon as he got wind of the news.

"I know that they do save lives," Knochelmann said. "The impact on the community is massive and has to be evaluated. Covington has the most history with trying to find a location, and I saw the battle they went through and ultimately lost. We are looking into this."

Residents' participation in the survey shows how committed they are to being involved in the planning and protection of their community, organizers said.

“This survey is important in many ways. In order to plan for the future, we have to know what the community wants,” said Kathy Donohoue, chair of the zoning committee for SKCCG. “We were encouraged to bring our voice forward to Fiscal Court and the survey results are a direct reflection of the thoughts and vision of our community.”

The South Kenton County Citizens Group worked with the Kenton County Fiscal Court, the Kenton County Extension Office, Planning and Development Services (PDS), the Kenton County Planning Commission, the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD), and the real estate community on the survey.

Other notes:

Commissioners listened to the first reading of an ordinance providing for a credit of its occupational license fee for new employees as part of an economic development project by ALPLA, Inc, under the Kentucky Business Investment Program.

Commissioners also passed a resolution about the 2015-2016 budget amendments, and another resolution amending an agreement in lieu of taxes relating to the Duveneck Place Project at 8th & Washington Streets in Covington. Another resolution approved the execution of a county road aid co-op program contract between the Fiscal Court and the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Department of Rural and Municipal Aid for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016. This is a yearly item.

Under the consent agenda, the court passed the following:

* ratifying an agreement with the City of Lakeside Park regarding snow removal on city streets,

*surplusing Deputy Roy David Brinkman's service weapon for the Kenton County Sheriff's Department,

*surplusing  one plate tamper for the Kenton County Public Works Department,

*extending the contract for Medical/mental health for the Kenton county Detention Center,

*accepting the KACO reverse auction bid for salt that took place on May 12 of this year,

*approving the rejection of all bids for salt that were opened on June 2 of this year,

*approving the awarding of the uniforms/body armor bid to Galls, LLCC for the Kenton County Police Department and the Kenton County Detention Center.

Nine executive orders were passed.

1) The fiscal court approved the re-appointment of JoAnn Lonnemann to the NKADD Council on Aging, term expiring June 30,2018.

2) the court approved the re-appointment of Don Kaiser to the Kenton Fire District Board, term expiring June 30, 2019.

3) the court approved the re-appointment of Garry Neltner to the NKADD Council on Aging, term expiring June 30, 2018.

4) the court approved the transfer of George Popp from part time laborer to part time trustee for the the Parks and Recreation Department effective April 1, 2016.

5) the court accepted the resignation of Jamie Steinborn from the Kenton County Animal Shelter, effective June 3, 2016.

6) the court approved the transsfer of john Davis from a part time technician to a full time technician for the Kenton County Animal Shelter effective June 15, 2016.

7) the court approved the promotion of Nathan Pflueger tot he position of Advanced Equipment Operator, effective July 1, 2016.

8) the court approved the re-appointment of Mayor Dave Jansing to the Kenton County Emergency Communications Board, term expiring August 1, 2018.

9) The court accepted the resignation of Sergeant Andrew Schierberg from the Kenton County Police Department, effective June 30, 2016. Schierberg was sworn in last week as the new chief at the Ft. Mitchell Police Department, and his mom and dad, wife Emily and sons, Conner and George, came to see the court give him a good send off with appreciation.

Commissioners asked questions about when the new Open Gov program would start, and Treasurer Roy Cox said they have done a lot of preparatory work on it and the program should be up and running in about a month.

Judge Knochelmann presented a proclamation declaring July National Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans month to Bill Schneider, a Vietnam Veteran. Other veterans were in the audience.

The court went into executive session, and coming out they said that the court agreed to pay legal fees from a 2005 lawsuit. They also came to an agreement with the City of Ludlow for repayment of funds for  Mobile Data Terminals.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Dr. Lori Garkovich presents results of the 2016 South Kenton survey (RCN)