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Auto Repair Shop's Planned Relocation from Covington to Taylor Mill Meets Opposition

At the Taylor Mill City Commission meeting on Wednesday night, David Von Bokern expressed his interest to the residents and city officials there that he would like to purchase the property formerly belonging to Klenco Construction in order to relocate Davon Auto Sales, Service and Collision Repair from Covington and to set up shop in Taylor Mill.

The asking price for the property is around $600,000 which currently has an office building as well as a parking lot on the premises. 

Von Bokern’s plan is to build an auto body shop there and possibly lease out the office space that exists already. He said that a company like an insurance agency would make sense to operate within that office space.

The issue became complicated, however, when the zoning of the property was brought to light. The property is located on the 5300 block of Old Taylor Mill Road near the entrance to Woodland Middle School and Scott High School.

Von Bokern has applied to rezone the property from residential to neighborhood commercial use in order to allow him to operate his business in what would be a conditional use. Some of the residents on hand were concerned not only about the immediate prospect of having such a business near their homes, citing noise and unsightly aesthetics of beat up cars, but also raised concerns about what else might go there in the future should the business fail.

Von Bokern, though, assured those people that the way the industry works now has changed and that the noise level is lower than in previous eras and that the repair component of his business would be kept indoors or behind fences. 

“Aesthetically it’s only going to get better,” he said. “We’re not planning on putting in buildings and blacktop or really changing anything to the site plan whatsoever.”

Von Bokern hired Jeff Flaherty of Cardinal Engineering to help guide him through the zoning process.

“Not only do the citizens have the power of adjusting the zoning, if David ever wanted to do something else with the property, it has to go to the Board of Adjustments as well because it would be a conditional use within the neighborhood commercial zone, so there is another layer of protection for the citizens there,” Flaherty said.

City Attorney Frank Wichmann explained the process Von Bokern must undergo in order to obtain the zoning changes he seeks in order to move forward with bringing Davon Auto to Taylor Mill. It currently operates on 8th Street in downtown Covington.

Davon's current location on 8th Street in Covington (RCN)

“The Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing which you all will be notified and they will make a decision about whether or not his proposed rezoning is in agreement with the area-wide comprehensive plan.  I anticipate that the Planning Commission will not recommend the rezoning," Wichmann said. "Their recommendation comes back to the City Commission. City Commission could then either accept that recommendation, or they could have their own public hearing and decide to approve his application.”

The other side to the issue concerning the property is the potential of the Kenton County Board of Education purchasing the property for administrative space. In the meeting, resident Steve Preston said that he spoke to the owner of the property last week who said that if the deal with Von Borken cannot be followed through, the school has instructed him to contact them and has evaluated the property multiple times. 

That possibility brought fears of a bus garage to the property which many residents of the nearby Lakewood subdivision were strongly against. 

Wynock, though, said that if the Board of Education obtains the property, they will have complete freedom to use the property for whatever need they see fit, with or without the approval of the city.

“The school board is a governmental entity, it is part of imminent domain, it is completely separate from the City of Taylor Mill,” Wichmann said.

City commission meeting in Taylor Mill on Wednesday (RCN)

In the end, the room seemed split on who they thought seemed like the lesser of two evils. Some mentioned how school use of the property would damage nearby property values less than a body shop would, while others liked the concept of keeping more control of the property’s use by selling it to private industry rather than having none if the School Board bought it instead.

“We’re in a little bit of a dilemma here. If the residents of Lakewood want this developed, then I’m for it. If they don’t want this development, then I’m not. I think I’m going to side on the residents because all of you are impacted directly. Whether it be the value of your home or the noise or whatever it is that you can come up with, I think Dave is willing to put a development plan together that would answer all of your concerns, and if that is good enough then the City Commission could proceed,” Mayor Dan Bell said. “It’s the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know.”

Prior to the meeting, Bell and Von Bokern met about the possible relocation, where Bell urged Von Bokern to ask the nearby residents what they thought of his plan. This gesture seemed appreciated but not enough to win an immediately positive public response.

“I don’t think the next guy is going to come knocking on your door and asking you how you feel about it. I’m trying to get the idea of a junk yard, body shop and all of that bad stuff out of your heads, because that is not what we do,” Von Bokern said.

It was agreed in the end that city officials would contact the School Board to gain information on their interest in the property and what future plans they may have in store for the space.  Meanwhile, Von Bokern will proceed with his application for a zoning change to the business and await future meeting times. 

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor