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Proposed Apartment Project Moves to Planning Commission Amid Parents' Concerns

A proposal to construct three new apartment buildings with around 106 new residential units on Grandview Drive in Ft. Mitchell will go before the Kenton County Planning Commission next month.

The meeting is set for Thursday, June 6. 

The project was first discussed publicly in August when developers Paul Darpel and Dave Noll presented their plans for the 12-acre site on the 200 block to the city council last August.

At the time, some parents whose children attend Beechwood Independent Schools were concerned that a large project would bring more students into the increasingly crowded district.

Darpel is chair of the Kenton County Planning Commission and will have to recuse himself when the commission takes up the matter, though he will be able to argue in front of the commission on behalf of the proposed project, said attorney Matt Smith, who represents Planning & Development Services of Kenton County.

Darpel did not return a text message requesting comment on Thursday.

According to property records, the site is currently owned by 260 Grandview, LLC, an organization connected to the BOLD Company, a Union-based construction and design firm.

According to social media posts, some parents remain concerned about the potential impact the apartment project could have on enrollment at Beechwood.

The City of Fort Mitchell declined to comment as it will likely have to take up the issue at a future city council meeting, regardless of what the Kenton County Planning Commission decides on the request for a map amendment to the zoning. The developers are seeking a change from professional office building zone to multifamily residential. In the application, the developers claim that the residential zoning would act as an extension of the neighboring zone, and call the professional office building zoning inappropriate.

Beechwood Superintendent Mike Stacy said that the schools in his small district are nearing capacity, but that all students would be welcome. He said that a building project would likely be in the school district's future within five to ten years, and that prior that, mobile classrooms, or trailers, may be utilized at some point.

In the elementary school, grades kindergarten through sixth have 735 students. "Theoretically, that still has room for about forty more," Stacy said. "We figure the cap is about 775 if every grade level were equally distributed." 

The high school, grades 7 through 12, has 661 students with a 695-pupil cap, he said. Stacy noted that if an additional learning period were added to the school day, the school could possibly accommodate up to 750 students. "We're really getting close to capacity with or without this development."

"Our job is to effectively implement any decisions from planning and zoning and city council, not make the decision," Stacy said. "Beechwood is a successful part of the Fort Mitchell community and our job is to preserve that status under any circumstance."

Stacy said he did not know the exact number of proposed apartments until informed by The River City News. "I'm sure they will do their job and gather the data and make a decision that is right for our community."

Stacy said what bothered him is some of the posts on social media. "We would never want to portray an image of being concerned about kids coming out of condos or apartments," he said. 

"I won't speak for our city, but we're more concerned with infrastructure and growth. That's it. And making sure we have time to plan and making sure we continue to run a top system in the state of Kentucky," he said. "And from there, we have officials for a reason. I wouldn't want anyone telling my board what decision they have to make because they have to look at data and facts and make decisions."

The only position he has taken, Stacy said, is to disagree with calls for the district to remove the land where the project is proposed out of the district's boundaries, likely pushing it into the Kenton County School District.. "That would be a political nightmare," Stacy said. "And, to me, it's a bad representation of what we stand for as a public institution. We take kids from anywhere, no different than any other district."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Image via PDS