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Taylor Mill Sets Stage for New UDF to Come to Town

After years of bickering, a new United Dairy Farmers location is closer to arriving in Taylor Mill.
 
The election of Phil Peace - who owns the property where the UDF would be built - in November's city commission race helped move things along, it appears.
 
The city commission met for the first time since Peace and fellow newcomer Sarah Frietch were sworn in. They beat two incumbents for their seats, and serve on the commission with incumbent Dan Murray and former mayor Mark Kreimborg. Mayor Dan Bell is in his third year.
 
The commission passed a text amendment to the existing zoning code that governs "Downtown Taylor Mill (DTM) 2" where Peace's site is located. Though there is still work to be done to allow the project to move forward, including the acquisition of a piece of state-owned property, the vote is a step forward in a long battle that placed Peace at odds with Mayor Bell and the previous commission. Peace moved from Covington to Taylor Mill in time to run for the office.
 
Kreimborg asked for the vote to be delayed until February so that he could further study the site, but the rest of the commission opted to move forward now. Peace did not vote, since there is an obvious conflict, but the rest voted in favor, including Kreimborg who said he did so to be a team player.
 
There was some confusion about the matter. Commissioner Murray told City Administrator Jill Bailey last week that he was going to bring the issue up at the meeting, but she did not realize that she was supposed to list it on the agenda.  Therefore the agenda and meeting packet went out on Friday as usual without the text amendment or even discussion of the matter on the agenda. Commissioner Peace called Bailey to confirm that it was on the agenda and that the papers had been drawn up for the first reading. Bailey said that it had not been and she hurried to enlist City Attorney Frank Wichmann to draw up the text amendment, but didn't get the ordinance out to commissioners until close to the meeting's start time on Wednesday evening.
 
She apologized at the meeting for the late delivery, but due to the lateness, Kreimborg did not have a chance to read the ordinance or the information.
 
The other commissioners, however, said that the text amendment was long overdue, and they overrode Kreimborg's request and voted to read the ordinance for the first time. Kreimborg was very conflicted when the vote came, and felt that it was being "shoved down his throat". He said he was not against the UDF project, he just needed the time to catch up to where everyone else was.
 
"I am voting yes because I am a team player," he said finally. "But it is under protest."
 
The included text changes pertain to building location, off-street parking location, minimum development area, roof forms, landscaping buffers, and on street parking. The second section pertains to adding convenience stores, hair salons and barber shops to the list of permitted uses, and amends the area and height regulations which concern off street parking location, and front, side and rear yard depth. Street wall requirements and building heights were also changed, and gas station regulations were amended to include attendant station location, and the number of gas pumps allowed were changed as well as canopy height, and retaining walls.
 
The commissioners had not heard the end of the matter. At almost the end of the meeting, resident Glenn Howard stood up to say he was disappointed in the way things were handled.
 
"This kind of turns it into a matter of being for or against the UDF," said Howard. "We are watching for transparency, and we didn't see it. There is a lot that is not transparent. Looks like you are going wild west."
 
He didn't like that the commissioners totally overrode Kreimborg's request for time to acquaint himself with the issue, and he said that dismantling the requirements for the DTM zone waters it down. Commissioner Frietch told him that everywhere she went before the election that people told her they wanted the UDF to go in, and Commissioner Murray echoed that sentiment. But Howard reiterated his point that the vote was not very transparent.
 
Resident Maureen Maxfield also stood up and asked the mayor if there was a standard procedure for getting material out to the commissioners, because she was not comfortable with Commissioner Kreimborg being voted down when he hadn't  had time to review the material. Bailey then explained the circumstances that led to the situation, and Maxfield replied that she thought if it wasn't an emergency maybe it could've waited until February. She said that policy needed to be upheld in the name of transparency, and said that not everyone knew about the UDF issue, and that it has been around for three years.
 
Resident Ray Mauer told the commission that he believed that they were disparaging the old commission. He also said that changing the zoning regulations could set a dangerous precedent that could bring too much development in the city that residents did not want and warned the commission to be careful. Commissioner Phil Peace stated at one point that Election Day had made the peoples' wishes very clear, and that the issue had languished long enough. Peace, Frietch, and Murray said they believed that they had a mandate from the people to get the issue taken care of immediately.
 
Criticism of the UDF project in the past centered around Taylor Mill's vision for an urban-esque downtown. It has attracted one large development, known as the "Trifecta" building because three iconic Cincinnati brands have located there - Skyline Chili, Grater's Ice Cream, and LaRosa's Pizza. The building is close to the street with parking in the rear and fits the city's vision for a more walkable area. But proponents of the UDF argue that the project brings a fourth iconic Cincinnati brand to town and also adds competition for gas. There is currently just one gas station in the area, a BP.
 
Other notes:
 
Commissioners heard and passed the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting construction traffic on certain portions of Taylor Creek subdivision. They also approved a municipal order appointing commission liaisons. Mayor Bell will stay on Administration and Finance; Commissioner Murray will stay with Fire and EMS; Commissioner Peace will be aligned with Maintenance; Commissioner Frietch will be with Police;  and Commissioner Kreimborg will take Parks and Recreation.
 
Bailey gave an update on the mold remediation at the city building (Wednesday night's meeting took place at Pride Park because of the work being done). At the first visual inspection, the building failed because leaks in the roof had damaged the drywall, so more work had to be completed, and then the air had to be scrubbed again. The building passed the second visual inspection and is getting new drywall, new ceilings, new HVAC, and carpeting.
 
The next commission meeting was scheduled for February 8, but because the Kentucky League of Cities is having a city government meeting that evening in Frankfort, the mayor thought commissioners should have a chance to attend. The next meeting therefore is scheduled for February 15, and Bailey said it should be back in the city building.
 
Commissioners talked about who would serve with outside groups. Dan Murray will serve as the representative to Planning & Development Services, and Mark Kreimborg will be the alternate. Mayor Dan Bell will continue to be the representative at the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI). The city will be looking for someone to serve as cluster representative for the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK), and anyone who is interested should talk to Jill Bailey at the city building. Three people are interested in representing the city at the Kenton County Planning Commission: former commissioner Ed Kuehne, 2016 commission candidate Matthew Martin, and resident Maureen Maxfield, so Bailey suggested she could set up a special meeting for the commissioners to meet with all three candidates.
 
The ongoing saga of the city's two ambulances was updated. Ambulance 814 needs a new transmission, and Commissioner Murray gave the go-ahead to get other estimates, so Fire Chief John Stager related four estimates from different companies. After listening, the commissioners voted to have the transmission rebuilt by AAMCO for a cost of $1,900 plus $200 to $400 for a torque converter. Ambulance 815 is newer, a 2008, and its problem is that heavy, thick exhaust is penetrating the cab and the patient bay. However, no one can find out what is causing the problem, despite replacing several parts. It is still in diagnosis mode.
 
The city had planned on buying a new ambulance in the next fiscal year, and had put aside money for that purpose, but now, with the city using a county ambulance since both are in the shop, the older one must be fixed. Then the city has to deal with which company to go with to install the state mandated power cot system, which is extremely pricey, city officials said. Stager explained that the city would be buying two loading systems and one cot that they could move back and forth between the two ambulances, and the price was approximately $55,000 from Stryker, and approximately $43,000 from Ferno-Washington. Since the system the firefighters were familiar with was Stryker, and they were UL approved, Commissioners decided to go with Stryker even though it was more expensive.
 
Mayor Bell announced that he and Bailey have been looking at the OpenGov system and in the interest of transparency they have decided to go ahead and get details to present to the commissioners so they can install it. Bell said he has talked to both Edgewood CAO Brian Dehner, and Ft Wright mayor Dave Hatter about the installation and use of the program, and he feels more confident now that Taylor Mill can make a go of it. He said commissioners would have to approve the expenditure of about $4,000 per year to allow residents an online portal into real-time spending by the city.
 
Kevin Novesl, owner of Knuk n Futz restaurant, had announced previously that he was donating a handicapped swing with two units, and he came to the meeting to see where the preparations were on the project. Bailey said she wasn't sure which of the swings he had in mind and Novesl said he had done some research and decided on one that would support a wheelchair, and another which did not require a wheelchair, but would support any size handicapped person. Bailey promised to have details at the next meeting, and said she thought they might be able to install it in April or May. Both the mayor and the commissioners thanked Novesl for seeing a need and stepping up and doing something about it.
 
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Taylor Mill City Commission meets at Pride Park (RCN)