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Dayton Seeks to Add More Space for New Businesses

Kentucky Route 8, as it snakes along the Ohio River, has seen transformation across the Northern Kentucky River Cities and their historic business districts. In Dayton, where the state route is known as Sixth Avenue, there is currently too much of a good thing.

And not enough ready space to accommodate the demand for commercial opportunities.

On Tuesday night, at a special meeting of city council, city leaders took action to address a couple of zoning issues that they believe will create more available spaces and a friendlier environment for some existing businesses. They also discussed the forthcoming disruption to traffic when Fairfield Avenue - as KY 8 is known in neighboring Bellevue - is closed for several weeks starting next month.

A lack of space

"With all the new businesses that have opened in the past couple of months, we have one commercial building for sale on the MLS and currently no spaces for rent," said Bob Yoder, Dayton's main street manager.

In recent months, the city has welcomed Trotta's Steak & Seafood and Hometown Heroes as new restaurants on the Avenue, joining the previously established Purple Poulet and Kate's Catering.

A handful of retail shops have moved into town.

But more are knocking on the door - attracted to the city's Commercial Community Advantage Program (CCAP) which offers incentives in the form of subsidies for build-out, facade, and rent - and there is nowhere to put them.

A zoning amendment approved on Tuesday aims to change that. Buildings located in a single-family zone in the historic district (Sixth Avenue from O'Fallon Avenue to Main Street) and within 100 feet from KY 8 intersections now have more commercial opportunities. "Presently they have limited conditional business use. The zone change would give them several more permitted uses beyond just single-family use," City Administrator Michael Giffen said.

"With the new zoning Dayton will have more commercial buildings available for businesses,” Yoder added.

Some of the possible uses include clothing stores, craft shops, art studios, barbers, bakeries, coffeehouses, florists, delis, sporting goods, and fitness locations, among others.

A new tattoo shop will soon open at the former Tina's Tanning location.

Drinking and dancing outside now permitted

Council also approved a change to an archaic piece of the zoning code that prevented live music, dancing, and drinking in open air spaces.

Some of the new restaurants, in particular, asked for the change.

The zone change was declared an emergency on Tuesday night so that it could be adopted without need for another special meeting and to expedite the change so that businesses could capitalize on it during the July 4 holiday.

Though the change passed unanimously, the vote to declare the ordinance an emergency was voted against by Councilman Bill Burns. "I think we just stretched the law a bit too far," he said. He added, "We should put some clarification in about times. I'm not concerned about a couple of locations, but I am concerned about other locations in the city of Dayton (that) I don't think we've looked at."

Preparing for traffic disruption

When Sanitation District 1 continues its project, separating a storm water and sanitation pipe into two pipes along Taylor Avenue, and shuts down Fairfield Avenue at that intersection in Bellevue, Dayton will be affected, too.

Detour routes have not yet been finalized.

"It disturbs me that they have not thought about the City of Dayton at all," Burns said. "How you're gonna get (TANK number) 12 buses, to the gas station, the trucks, and if they're gonna give us an answer, I think they should give us an answer now."

Council members Joe Neary and Ben Baker offered an optimistic tone.

"A lot of folks will be going through Dayton and through Dayton Pike, through Fort Thomas, so it's as good a time as ever to see our places, too," Baker said. "It's a good time for Dayton to shine for people who don't see us usually."

"What we have to remember is the impact is really going to be on the Bellevue neighborhoods that the detours are going to go through," Neary said. He added that he hopes SD1 will eventually do a similar project in the Jamestown area of Dayton along Fourth Street to alleviate flooding issues there.
 
City building's future discussed
 
The City of Dayton government will also be an active part of the changing face of Sixth Avenue.
 
For years now, city council meetings have taken place at the Dayton Board of Education building. The city outgrew its meeting space at the city building on Sixth, and through a deal with the developer of Manhattan Harbour, the ritzy housing project on the riverfront, the city expects to have a new building constructed soon. 
 
The targeted site is Veterans Memorial Park, a small but attractive slice of green space on the Avenue. A handful of adjacent houses would be razed and the government campus would sit on the site, removing the park.
 
Resident Beth Nyman, at a meeting earlier this month, urged council to reconsider the location of the new city building, arguing that the green space has become a valuable part of the community for gatherings.
 
It has also been the site of the new food truck events held each month in the summer.
 
Mayor Virgil Boruske is adamant about moving forward with putting the new building on the park site. "I definitely want the city building on that site," he said.
 
The building is expected to be funded through monies generated by Manhattan Harbour's tax increment financing (TIF) district, but it could be years before such funds are generated. Giffen has had what he called informal meetings with potential lenders that specialize in bonding, "so we could get an idea of what we would have to budget to even afford a loan, regardless of where the building went," he said.

Council adopts budget

The City of Dayton adopted its $5.8 million budget at Tuesday night's special meeting.

The funds include an additional police officer, bringing the department's roster to 11 officer. 

A 20 percent match for a grant to be used for the city's portion of Riverfront Commons, the multi-use path that will connect Northern Kentucky's River Cities, is included, too.

Additionally, the budget includes $100,000 for ornamental lighting along Sixth Avenue.

Councilmen Baker and Neary voted against the budget. Neary asked for the city to use zero-based budgeting, "and if administration needs more money, they can come back to council, but we risk our reserves," he said. "Once we approve the budget, the administration can spend all that money. I just think it's fiscally responsible to live within your means." He also objected to a proposed 4 percent property tax increase that is included in the budget but won't be voted on until August.
 
Baker also objected to the proposed 4 percent property tax increase.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Sixth Avenue in Dayton (RCN)