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Plan to Build 25+ Homes Concerns Neighbors in Park Hills

Roughly a dozen residents of Audubon Road attended Monday night's Park Hills city council meeting, arguing that they felt blindsided by news of a forthcoming development that would have an entrance on their street.
 
The approximately 13-acre site is owned by James Berling and access could be made to it through a single property that he is in the process of acquiring. But neighbor Kevin Thiessen, who lives next to the property targeted by Berling for acquisition, has concerns.
 
"First of all, the property is park land and not suitable for houses," Thiessen told council. "The amount of work required to move the earth will make us subject to living in a giant construction zone." The number of construction vehicles that could be required over the 2-year development period was also of concern to him. The project would place 25 to 29 new homes on the site, bringing more permanent traffic, too.
 
Thiessen also expressed that neighbors should have received better communication from the city. Councilwoman Pam Spoor shared his position.
 
"This came out of the blue," Spoor stated. "You are right, it is not consistent with the vision for Park Hills, and the construction traffic is going to be a nightmare."
 
Mayor Matt Mattone said that Berling notified the city of his intentions earlier in the year and submitted his plans to the Kenton County Planning Commission. The plans, Mattone said, are consistent with the zoning established for the area.
 
Resident Bobby Fields said that Berling told him that he had spoken to the mayor about the plans, and that the development would include high-end houses and that the entrance would be beautiful. Work could start in the winter.
 
Another resident, Julie Ochs, said she bought her parents' house and when plans were brought up to develop this land during the time her parents lived in the house, the city squashed them.
 
"There is nothing pristine about huge houses on small lots," she said. "There has to be an an ability to combat that."
 
But, neither the design nor the density required city review. City Attorney Todd McMurtry said the project meets the requirements of the law, and that no traffic study was required.
 
Mattone said that Berling asked whether he should attend Monday's meeting but they agreed that a separate public meeting at another date would be best. That meeting should be set up soon, the mayor said.
 
James Berling confirmed to The River City News that he is buying a property adjacent to Theissen's house on Audubon, and it will be the entrance to his 12.5 acres where the homes will be built.
 
"The property is presently zoned for residential, and has two zones," he said. "We will build in conformance with the regulation for those two zones."
 
Berling also said that he owns property on Sleepy Hollow but that an entrance to his property from there would not be physically possible. A preliminary plat has been submitted to Kenton County Planning and Zoning, and because there are several rules of review, more documents will be submitted. However, Berling confirmed that if all goes as anticipated, work could start as early as this winter. As far as a meeting with the residents of Audubon, he is willing to do that.
 
"I would like to meet with them," he said.
 
Other notes:
 
Police Chief Cody Stanley had several items to discuss. He wants to use his surplus, which is money the different departments set aside as a savings to buy bigger ticket items when needed, to purchase new body cams for his department, since their old ones will be outdated next March, for a price of $10,660, which includes battery packs, software, an upgrade after 2 and a half years, and a five-year warranty.
 
Cody also wants to purchase dash cams for the 9 cruisers and SUVs in his department at a cost of $4,410. Additionally, the chief would like to get new lapel mics for radio communication because the current ones don't have antennae and keep losing signals from the county dispatch, for a cost of $1,540 for 9 mics. The chief talked to Tommy Thompson, the new executive director of the Kenton County Emergency Dispatch Center and was told about a company that would possibly be a good place to buy them from, so they do not clash with the new 800 mhz radio system scheduled to start in late 2018.  
 
Stanley told council he wants to go with Verizon One Talk phone system to set up a new phone system, since the one the city currently has is antiquated, and provides no direct line for him, or other people, and tends to cut people off occasionally. The new system will not only provide the lines they need, but the lines can be switched to WiFi in case a storm cuts the cable. Chief Stanley said the new system could save the city up to $300 a month.
 
Finally, he would like to buy a new SUV, another Dodge Durango, and outfit it like their 2010 model for an estimated cost of $35,000. That purchase would require council approval. The money for the body and cruiser cams is already budgeted, but a budget amendment had to be approved for a new cruiser, even though it is all money coming from a reserve so the city does not go into debt.
 
Council listened to the first reading of two ordinances; one to change the zoning for a 9.1 acre site around the old Park Hills school by the old Gateway property from R-1 EE and HC to R-1 EE with a PUD, or planned unit development overlay, and the other to change the text to allow a PUD overlay in the definition of the R-1 EE zone. Councilman Monty O'Hara explained to the audience that these two ordinances relate to the school property, and make it better for the city to maintain control and access, since the Gateway property could be developed into something that the city would not like for the section of property they own.
 
Bob Carpenter came to the meeting to answer any questions about the proposed sign that council had approved to go up by North Arlington. He told council that the plan was to use the old sign salvaged from Ft. Mitchell, and to put new workings inside it. Originally the sign was to be single-sided and the cost for that would have been $12,208, which the city had budgeted for and the council approved. Along the way it was decided it might be better to have a double-sided sign, and that increased the cost, making the bottom line $16,850. If the city is going to do the double sided sign, they would have to amend the budget to put in approximately $5,000 more for the sign. Pam Spoor made a motion to accept the contract for the double-sided sign and to amend the budget for the specified amount.
 
A couple who live on Montague, Carl and Maureen Gerrein, came to ask council what they could do about trees on their neighbors' property. Several years ago a tree had fallen on their property and caused them to have to foot the bill for repairs, and they know other trees are in bad shape around their property. They asked what they can do, other than send registered letters to their neighbors, to inform them that they have to take care of the trees on their property. Councilwoman Spoor told them there are three ordinances in place, each providing a little stronger language for nuisances like dead trees or trees that are in imminent danger of falling on their property.
Two candidates for city council, Karl Oberjohn and Ben Dammel, came to the meeting to announce that there will be a candidate meet-and-greet on a Saturday in October, but the date had not yet been set. They wanted to get the word out so people would be expecting the event and plan to attend it.
 
Council discussed where they would have their meetings since the Griffin Center will no longer be available to them in a short time. The meetings will be held at Notre Dame starting in January, 2017, unless they have to be out of the Griffin center earlier.
 
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor