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New Homes May Be Coming to Ft. Mitchell - but Fire Hydrants are an Issue

Eleven new single family homes could be on the way to Ft. Mitchell - but subdivision regulations related to water flow and fire hydrants could be a problem.

Ashley Commercial Groups owns a 6-acre site at the end of Floral Avenue and hopes to build eleven new homes there. The homes would cost from the low $500,000s to the low-$700,000s, said Ashley's Bill Kreutzjans.

But, there's a problem.

"What has happened is, in order for them to do it, the water flow for the hydrants is not strong enough," said Mayor Jude Hehman. He invited Kreutzjans and his team to a recent city council caucus meeting where the issue was flushed out.

Public works director Matt Stegman and Fire Chief Gary Auffart checked out the situation. "This is a much bigger problem," the mayor said. "We have a larger problem on Highland Avenue." Calcium deposits have built up and some of the 6-inch pipes are now 4-inch pipes. "So, the water pressure and demand is a lot smaller."

One possible solution is to expedite some different road projects in this part of the city so that the water flow to the hydrants can be addressed at the same time, Hehman said.

The concerns for the fire department are obvious.

"The problem is, from about 103 Highland on back, none of those hydrants can be used to fight fires so we carry 1000 feet of 5-inch hose to get to those addresses," Auffart said, "so we need at least two trucks to lay in to have enough hose line and to get enough adequate water back to those areas."
 
"We flow the hydrants every year but they keep getting smaller and smaller."
 
City administrator Sharmili Reddy said that whether the Floral development happens, the issue still needs to be addressed.
 
In the meantime, Ashley is seeking a waiver from the Kenton County Planning Commission (KCPC) from the minimum fire flow of 500 gallons per minute for homes that are 100-feet or less from a hydrant. The issue was set to go before the KCPC at November's meeting, but Ashley requested that the issue be tabled until the December meeting.
 
Kreutzjans hopes that the request is successful.
 
"We could do seven flag lots but we much prefer to do a nicer subdivision with a city road," he said. "To put in a bunch of flag lots would not look nearly as nice."
 
Kreutzjans asked the city for its support in requesting the waiver and there were rumblings that a special meeting of council would be called to offer such support ahead of the KCPC meeting, but no such special meeting took place. Council will have another regularly scheduled meeting ahead of the December meeting of the KCPC.
 
David Jansen, a Ft. Mitchell firefighter, and mayor of neighboring Lakeside Park, said that tehre is no need for another fire hydrant on the street because the spacing is correct. The issue, he said, is simply water pressure. "The spacing is OK, you just have to have water come out of it," Jansen said.
 
Mayor Hehman said that the fire chief is not supportive of the waiver, but that the mayor would be if council would be willing to allocate money for repairs to Highland Avenue. "I think we have established that we have emergency back there," Hehman said.
 
Stegman said there is no estimated cost yet on such a project. "One of the things that may impact this is the age of the water main, and the water district will prioritize some of their water main projects depending on whether you are doing the entire street," Stegman said. "We do have a resurfacing plan for a large portion of Highland but not a replacement and that's the difference."
 
Kreutzjans said that his company would be willing to help out with some of the associated costs with the understanding that the development could get the necessary waiver. "We have to do something at the site," Kreutzjans said. "We much prefer to do it as a subdivision versus some flag lots or something like that."
 
Kreutzjans said that any finished project won't be ready at the site for at least a year.
 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Site of proposed subdivision at end of Floral Avenue (RCN)