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Cityview Station Development President at Ludlow Council to Mixed Public Reaction

A massive 64-acre residential development proposed for Ludlow was presented to the public and city council last week after it was overwhelmingly disapproved by the Kenton County Planning Commission in a 14-1 vote.

Cityview Station, planned for a hillside off Highway Avenue, would add 28 single-family homes, 306 attached condominium units, and 400 apartment units.

The land is currently owned by the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railroad Company and developer Fischer Homes, through its affiliate Grand Communities, is seeking a zone change from a rural single-family residential zone to a multi-family residential zone with planned unit development overlay. It is located south and west of Highway Avenue, west of River's Breeze condominium community (also developed by Fischer), and east of the railroad in the city.

The planning commission is a recommending body and city council will have final say on whether the zone change can happen. 

City residents expressed concern at the planning commission about traffic flow, parking, flooding, and hillside slippage. At that meeting, interim City Administrator Scott Smith, also the city's police chief, expressed support.

Amanda Webb, a project-planner at Fischer Homes, delivered the presentation last Thursday to those in attendance and reassured the community that Fischer Homes is taking their concerns about Cityview Station seriously. 

The project is expected to bring approximately 1,500 additional vehicles to the area. Webb explained that the development includes plans to widen Highway Avenue and add off-street parking spots at the entrance of Cityview Station. These practices were derived from traffic studies conducted with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. These studies also suggest that Highway Avenue will maintain its Level-A serviceway accommodation after the construction. 

Joe Kremer, president of Cardinal Engineering in Newport, addressed concerns about flooding and land slippage by explaining how the development will be built upon the land's bedrock, and that drainage systems will be installed throughout the construction diverting rainwater directly into the Ohio River. 

"This development is a good fit for this undeveloped land," Webb said during her presentation. "We've done a lot of studies and collected a lot of information."

The presentation concluded with public comments on Cityview Station which were generally mixed.

Eric Russo, executive director of the Hillside Trust, an organization that advocates for hillsides across the Greater Cincinnati region, spoke against the project citing the composition of the land on the hill and the enormous cost of maintenance other hillside developments in the region cost cities. Russo offered Cincinnati's burden maintaining U.S. Route 50 as an example. 

"This entire region spends upwards of $25 million a year repairing damage to properties that have been affected by the slippage of land," Russo said. "There's not one single insurance company in this area that will cover hillside slippage damage. The cost of damage is solely burdened by the owner of the property.

"Do you have the professional staffing and resources to deal with that?" 

Others in attendance showed support. 

Vans Collins, a long-time Ludlow resident and volunteer firefighter, passionately spoke about how he hoped the city would welcome Cityview Station. 

"If due diligence is done, then we have the opportunity to get some development - and development attracts development," Collins said. "We have to have tax money. I don't want to see anyone's homes get torn away or anything like that, but we need this development." 

"I'm not a scientist, or a geological whizz; all I am is a citizen who has watched this city - " he said, borderline exasperated and throwing his hands up. "This project will help the city move forward."

Challis Hodge, a Ludlow resident and owner of Taste on Elm, a boutique shop in the city, also spoke favorably about the development saying that increasing the city's housing stock will improve his outlook on his shop and future businesses that he has planned. 

Others giving comment repeatedly raised points about traffic, flooding, and land slippage - casting doubt on Fischer Homes's reassurances by highlighting the developer's motives of profit. One resident told council that the she thought putting money over safety was sickening, which prompted Smith, the city administrator, to interject. 

"My real job is safety, public safety," Smith said. "The idea that we have allowed them to say whatever and we take it at face value is a misnomer, safety is our top priority." 

"Twenty years ago in May we were talking about building River's Breeze," Smith said. "If you pull the minutes from that meeting it's the same three things - slippage, drainage, traffic - and sure there were issues, but hopefully we've all learned from those mistakes. All of those things are at the top of our list and public safety is paramount in everything that we are doing." 

Smith added that there was no rush in moving forward with the development and reassured the public that the city was committed to making these decisions properly and doing its due diligence.

There were no votes called for anything pertaining to the development. 

-Connor Wall, associate editor

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