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After Trouble with Staff Member, Bellevue to Contract with County for Zoning Services

The City of Bellevue will contract with the Campbell County Planning, Zoning & Building Inspection Department for services rather than filling the planning & zoning administrator role at the city building.

Scott Enns held that post but was suspended last fall after an altercation with city council during a city meeting.

In the months since, the city's legal team and Enns's attorney have been negotiating, and a settlement may be close, Mayor Ed Riehl told The River City News on Wednesday.

Bellevue will pay $2,400 for the county services and joins other Campbell cities Crestview, Cold Spring, Dayton, Melbourne, Silver Grove, Southgate, and Woodlawn in utilizing the services rather than employing their own staff member.

In October, during his regular update for city council, Enns expressed frustration from an earlier meeting of the planning commission during which he was tasked with creating a new zone for the Kent Lofts, a project by Covington-based Orleans Development to transform the mostly vacant Kent warehouse on Grandview Avenue into more than five dozen upscale apartments.

Incidently, on Wednesday, Bellevue city council also approved the issuance of industrial revenue bonds to help the project. The Bellevue Board of Education recently agreed to its tax collection role in the project, too.

Last fall, RCN reported that Enns said that his position and that of the planning commission were misrepresented and that someone from council publicly distributed a draft of his staff report, something he called "very unfortunate." Then, he said that his internal investigation narrowed the suspects from council down to two members.

"I grew up in a family with politics," Enns told council during that meeting meeting. "My dad was a mayor. I worked directly with the mayor in the City of Cincinnati and the president of the University of Cincinnati, and all the neighborhoods. I get politics. I get posturing. It's unfortunate. It provides no context and provides people opportunities to make very poignant and critical statements such as, what universe of possibilities is the zoning administrator looking at?

"In the universe of possibilities that I work from is, I went to an architect's planning office at the age of 17. I came to this city with a planning degree and some almost twenty years of specific planning and zoning work in Kentucky and many states and internationally. I didn't come to learn on the job. I came equipped. So, my realm of possibilities, my universe of possibilities come from that experience."
 
The city has been without a zoning administrator since.
 
The council vote was not unanimous. Councilman Rodney Poynter disagreed. "We don't have resolution for the past problems we had with this that created this necessity, so i am voting no. I don't agree with it," he said. Other council members voted in favor, though Ryan Salzman was not present, so it passed 4-1.
 
Concerns were raised, however, by Councilman Steve Guidugli as City Administrator Keith Spoelker's tasks mount. Spoelker serves as secretary for the planning & zoning commission and the board of adjustment, in place of the full-time staff member.
 
"At some point in time you have a lot on your plate and I hope we bring forward a position for someone to take some of that stuff off your plate so you're not overwhelmed with things to do," Guidugli said.
 
Spoelker and Riehl told RCN that they are exploring staffing options in the upcoming budget, but there are challenges with increased pension contributions and the new digital radios required for emergency responders across Northern Kentucky.
 
"We have some pretty serious budget constraints this year," Riehl said. "We have to see how that plays out before we move forward."
 
Other notes:
 
Petri's Flowers has new owners. The flower shop opened in 1916 and since 1990 has been operated by Jesse and Cathy Dunaway. Mayor Riehl presented the couple with a proclamation declaring Wednesday to be Petri's Flowers Day in the city.
 
"The people in Bellevue were not my customers, they became my friends and I'm going to miss you all," said Cathy Dunaway. The couple is retiring.
 
New owners Randy and Vickie Wooten were also present at the meeting. They take over the business on June 1.
 
"(The Dunaways) are acclimating me to all the customers and all the people who live in the area," Vickie Wooten said. "We're really looking forward to being involved with everything."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: The Kent Building (RCN)