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Proposed Taylor Mill UDF Advances, But May Be Doomed at City Commission

A proposed United Dairy Farmers gas station and convenience store still has a chance to be built in Taylor Mill, after the Kenton County Planning Commission voted 18-2 in favor of recommending proposed text amendments to the city's zoning code that would allow for the store to be built along KY Route 16.

In what has become a lengthy and at times contentious process, the Taylor Mill City Commission in a November meeting, agreed to submit the text amendment proposals to the Planning Commission after a vocal group of residents showed their support for the local family that owns the land that they intend to sell to UDF. Three of the five City Commissioners in that meeting said they would not vote for a text amendment to the city codes where the property sits, but they did agree to have it reviewed in a public hearing by the Planning Commission, which took place on Thursday night in a four-hour meeting.

The Taylor Mill City Commission found itself in the odd position of submitting the application to the Planning Commission and then arguing against the proposal.

“If the majority of the City Commission is against this, how did it get here?” asked Planning Commissioner Dave Hilgeford. “So they're just kicking it down the road, huh?”

“I think the basis of your question is an assumption that they won't change their mind,” responded Taylor Mill City Attorney Frank Wichmann.

Covington residents Laurie and Phil Peace own the property in Taylor Mill and have built a strong case for themselves, which seemed to be reflected in the opinion of the Planning Commission.

“I'm very grateful that we're finally able to have this discussion and I look forward to some kind of resolution to this year-long turmoil,” Phil Peace said at the meeting that took four hours to conclude.

The two main sticking points of the issue is that UDF developers insist on having their building set back away from the street beyond current city requirements and with parking located in the front of the store. With those two changes to the city code that would allow for such a development in only one of the four Districts of Taylor Mill city zones, Peace and UDF both say they can move forward with the project.

Taylor Mill's resistance to accommodating the deal stems from the vision they planned for their city that promotes a more pedestrian and bike-friendly community there in the future. Their concern, City Administrator Jill Bailey explained, is that deviating from their plan is not in the long-term and overall interest of the city.

“I think that from the beginning, it was something that we wanted to achieve,” Ms. Bailey said of creating Taylor Mill into a pedestrian-friendly town. “We have gateway opportunities that create a sense of place, we have public opportunities for people to gather.”

Many of the Planning Commissioners agreed that Taylor Mill had put together a quality and progressive city plan, but some felt like it still had some kinks to work out.

“I think it's a good plan, they just need to work it better,” said Commissioner Keith Logsdon.

“The vision needs more work,” added Commissioner Marc Hult.

“It's a natural process to tweak a city's vision over time,” said Commissioner Diane Brown.

Commissioner Gailen Bridges was impressed with the many community supporters that came on behalf of Peace. “I like to listen to the people,” he said, “and the people seem pretty unanimous.”

There were some on the Commission, however, that agreed with sticking to the program put in place by Taylor Mill officials. Commissioner Stan Porter was one of two who voted against the amendments. “If the plan gets varied too much, a plan is not a plan,” he said.

The Taylor Mill City Commission can still reject the recommendation of the Planning Commission when the issue is brought before them again at the next City Commission.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that the final vote was 14-2. The numbers have been corrected. RCN regrets the error.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Planning Commission reviews proposed UDF/RCN

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