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Proposed Villa Hills Development Draws Hundreds for Public Meeting

Villa Hills residents had a chance to voice their concerns again Wednesday night about a proposed development on the St. Walburg Monastery site.

“Remember these hands that will vote against you,” one citizen said in protest of the development, threatening the positions of everyone on council in the next election, followed by cheers from the over 300 people in attendance at River Ridge Elementary’s gymnasium.

The extent of the proposed development was released to the public back in December and has since drawn much criticism about its size and location and how it will impact the city. One of the biggest concerns for residents is traffic congestion, the additional housing, and retail spaces. Supporters at the city building have argued that it will build a revenue stream for Villa Hills, which has limited commercial presence.

The new development by Edgewood-based Ashley Development would bring 493 new homes of varying sizes to Villa Hills, as well as a small commercial space for restaurants and offices.

Traffic concerns on an already congested Amsterdam Road have remained highlighted issue for residents around Villa Hills, who turned out last month at the Kenton County Planning and Zoning meeting to try and persuade them to vote against the change. However, the commission decided that the proposed development “met all required uses laid out in the comprehensive plan” created by the city last summer.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation did a study that showed that improvements would have to be made to Amsterdam Road to carry the amount of increased traffic, with recommendations such as a roundabout at Collins and Amsterdam roads.

Several people who spoke against the development fear the roadwork won’t be funded or completed before the development goes up. However, at last month’s planning and zoning meeting it was addressed that in order for the developer to get permits to being building, the roads will have to be upgraded first.

The Benedictine Sisters, who currently own the land because the sale is contingent on the zoning changes being approved by city council, say they continue to be in full support of the developer's plan as it meets everything the city said it wanted in two public meetings last year on what the land could be used for.

Sister Mary Catherine, representing the Benedictine Sisters, asked the community for their support in the selling of the land. She said the sisters had worked for years to maintain the land, but now they need to sell it because “their own savings are insufficient to fund retirement.”

While the planning and zoning commission approved the zoning changes last month, the city still has to approve or deny the changes within 90 days of receiving the zoning commissions recommendations.

The city council held its first reading of the ordinance last night and had discussion on the changes. It will have a second reading next month and will vote on whether to approve the changes.

Some Villa Hills council members said they wouldn’t let the threat of losing their positions on council sway them in their vote at next month's meeting.

Written by Carrie Crotzer, RCN contributor
Photo: St. Walburg Monastery  site (RCN file)