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Neighbors' Garage Dispute Plays Out Before Ft. Wright Council

A dispute over one family's plan to construct a new garage played out before the Ft. Wright city council on Wednesday night.

Todd and Heather Rudisell hope to place the new garage at their property on Monticello Drive but which would involve the placement of a driveway on Normandy Court over the objection of neighbors, and a rejection from the Kenton County Planning Commission from which they sought a variance to shorten the garage's setback from the street to ten feet.

Legally, the garage can proceed, though.

Neighbors are concerned that the garage's construction would involve a curb cut on Normandy, and take away on-street parking.

Heather Rudisell explained to city council that her husband went to their neighbors to talk about the garage and that one neighbor slammed the door in Todd Rudisell's face.

That neighbor, Michael Schmidt, was also present at the meeting and denied that characterization, but Todd Rudisell shouted back that it was true.

Mayor Dave Hatter stopped the exchange, saying that he would not allow the discussion to become an argument.

"Nothing can be done about this here tonight," Hatter said. "I want you to be able to express your concerns, but other than denying the curb cut, council can't do anything.  And if we deny the curb cut we are liable to be sued."

Todd Rudisell suggested that his new driveway would only take up nine feet on the street while a parking space would be twice that length. He also said that the driveway would allow him to park a car off the street, evening out the lost on-street space.

But another resident argued that Rudisell typically parks on nearby Monticello Drive, where the couple's house is located, suggesting that the loss of an on-street spot on Normandy would still be felt.

Heather Rudisell said that all the houses on Normandy have two-car driveways that they can park in.

City Administrator Jill Bailey said that the city could only make a decision on the curb cut. The city, she said, received a permit request and issued it on Tuesday.

Mayor Hatter said he didn't like it either, but there was nothing that the city could do about it because Rudisell is well within his rights to build the garage on his property.

"It is what it is," Hatter said.

Rudisell's neighbor, Michael Schmidt, stated that it destroys the character of the neighborhood, and devalues his property.

"I'll get a lawyer," Schmidt said as he left the meeting.

In other business, council agreed to issue a $25,000 loan to the homeowners association at Devou Lofts so that a slip on the property could be fixed. It is already sliding down to Don Martin Drive, and if not fixed, threatens Sleepy Hollow Road, too.

The entire cost of the repair is around $140,000 which will be covered by the homeowners association, minus related work to be conducted by the Northern Kentucky Water District. 

The city's loan is to be repaid with interest.

James A. Ramage Civil War Museum Board President Bernie O'Bryan reported to council that the museum would hold its annual Battery Hooper Days on Saturday, August 15 from noon to six and Sunday, August 16 from noon to five.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is the main sponsor and approved three pages of protocols to be adopted since the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and impacting events.

The event is not considered a festival since no food or drinks will be sold, and there won't be a petting zoo.

Guests will be divided into small groups to tour the grounds and museum.

Council said that it wanted to see something in writing from St. Elizabeth and something from the Northern Kentucky Health Department offering its approval. Bailey also asked for the city to be placed on the insurance policy as a third party.

The Tuesday food truck day at the city building will be extended three weeks.

Police Chief Ed Butler said they have hired back Officer Nick VonHandorf, and now the department is only down one officer.

Council also recognized retiring Police Officer Aaron Arnsperger, who was given gifts from the city. He also purchased his service revolver for $1.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Todd Rudisell speaks to Ft. Wright City Council (RCN)

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