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Covington Commission to Hear Appeal for Contemporary Townhome in Historic Neighborhood

A townhome proposed to be built in Covington's Historic Licking Riverside neighborhood will be presented to the Covington City Commission on Tuesday.

Attorney Todd McMurtry hopes to build a new home on the 600 block of Garrard Street, behind his parents' home on Sanford Street. The city's urban design review board was not satisfied with McMurtry's first presentation in February, asking for more information about the materials that would be used, among other concerns. When McMurtry returned in March, the UDRB rejected the plan in a 4-3 vote.

The design, created by architect Andrew Piaskowy, is distinctly different than the surrounding homes in the nineteenth century neighborhood. But, that's the point, Piaskowy argued. "I'm not going to argue with the fact that it doesn't look like the buildings that are around it. I know that's not the case," he said in February. "I'm not going to argue that a contemporary townhouse in the right proportion and scale with even new materials will be compatible with those structures. In fact, I object to an approach taken where you try to mimic a lot of the details done in the 1880s. It cheapens the construction, number one, and we don't have the craftsmen. It degrades a neighborhood rather than enhances a neighborhood."

The next step in the appeals process is to ask the city commission to overturn the UDRB's decision.

Appeals from the urban design review board have gone to the city commission a couple of times since 2012, with one decision being overturned and another being upheld Developers of the Walgreens that now stands at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Madison Avenue appealed to the city commission in 2012 after the UDRB rejected plans to demolish a nineteenth century mansion that stood on the site. The city commission granted the developer permission to raze the building, and the mansion came tumbling down in February 2013.

In January of this year, the owners of the historic Bavarian Brewery building, most recently home to Jillian's, wanted the city commission to overturn the UDRB's rejection of plans to demolish the nineteenth century commercial property. In a 5-0 vote, the city commission upheld the UDRB's rejection. Columbia-Sussex, which owns the brewery building, has indicated that it would appeal to the Kenton County Circuit Court, the next step in the process.

Two members of the current city commission were part of both votes. Mayor Sherry Carran, who was a city commissioner when Walgreens won on appeal, and Steve Frank who has been a city commissioner during both appeals.

The city commission will hear the appeal for the contemporary townhome during its regular legislative meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher