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Taylor Mill Restaurant's Patio Dream to Go Before County Planning Commission

More than three years after a city board denied the construction of a patio at Knuk N Futz, the popular Taylor Mill restaurant is getting another go - this time before the Kenton County Planning Commission.

In 2014, owner Kevin Novesl was already in the process of adding the outdoor space to his business on Taylor Mill Road when work was stopped because he had not collected the proper permits. When he appeared before the city's board of adjustment - the patio plan was voted down 5-0. The board considered whether the patio constituted an expansion of a business that is already operating as "non-conforming" in the residential zone, and whether the patio would be too close to busy Taylor Mill Road.

Neighbors who spoke against the project at the time expressed concern about noise.

Novesl, who argued that his business was not expanding, but rather utilizing more of the existing property, is now revisiting the issue and he has rallied his supporters.

At a special public meeting at Pride Park two weeks ago, the events center was so crowded that a separate room was needed to accommodate the overflow crowd that watched on a TV.

Decked out in bright green T-shirts showing their support for the patio, Knuk N Futz patrons spoke to the Taylor Mill city commission and staff about why the patio should be allowed.

The meeting was more of a listening session and no action was to be taken. City Commissioner Phil Peace had offered a compromise to the situation: allow the patio to move forward, but disallow live music to appease the nearby neighbors.

"I took the patio ordinance from Independence and applied it to this," Peace told The River City News. "Music is probably a non-starter for the neighbors. Taking the music out of it, nobody can have an argument against it."

Novesl will find out whether that is true at Thursday's meeting of the Kenton County Planning Commission.

A proposed text amendment to the Taylor Mill zoning ordinance would add existing restaurants as a permitted use, along with outdoor dining in conjunction with the restaurant subject to to area, time, and noise restrictions. Another would amend the neighborhood commercial zone to add existing private clubs or lodges to the list of permitted uses and add outdoor dining areas in connection with a restaurant or private club or lodge, subject to the same restrictions.

Though the special meeting at Pride Park was well attended, only a few people spoke up as it was determined that most present would likely be saying the same supportive things. Instead, for the most part, the T-shirts and applause did the talking.

Members the city commission also expressed support for the patio this time around, since proper procedures are being followed. 

"When this first came up - he's in a residential zone. He's non-conforming," Commissioner Dan Murray said. "What the zoning says is, he can do anything inside the building that he wants, but when he adds anything outside the building he changes his footprint. He came to us and we laud out every step, this is what you have to do. He didn't do it."

Murray was supportive of the compromise.

"As long as he's happy, I really like this. I think it's a win-win for everybody. Hope the planning commission sees it the same way."

Novesl had little to say at the meeting, only rising to thank the tide of supporters that rolled in on his behalf. No opponents of the proposal spoke at the meeting, though the city received a handful of emails from neighbors who oppose the change, citing concerns about noise - even without the music.
 
"I am aware that they will not be able to have outdoor music or amplifiers, however, simply the sound of loud conversations that usually accompany drinking would be a factor," one neighbor wrote. "As you probably are aware, voices tend to carry outside. In addition to noise, we fear the trash and traffic on our street would increase."
 
The Kenton County Planning Commission on Thursday will also consider changes to Taylor Mill's DTM, or downtown, zoning, related to setbacks, parking and sidewalk requirements, and changes to permitted uses, among other issues. The downtown zone has also been a thorny subject for the past few years as a proposed United Dairy Farmers gas station and convenience store - which would be developed on property owned by Commissioner Peace - stalled with support from the public but could not move forward as planned due to conflicts with the zoning.
 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher