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Controversial Development Proposal, Emergency Radios Discussed in Taylor Mill

The seemingly endless discussion over a proposed development in Taylor Mill returned to the city building on Wednesday.
Phil Peace, owner of a piece of land that a United Dairy Farmers has been proposed as a development for, and a candidate in November's city commission election, was represented by his attorney, Mike Schulkens. The UDF proposal has not proceeded and Peace blames inaction by the city. Schulkens, in a presentation at Wednesday's city commission meeting, asked for a special meeting to read ordinances that would amend the zoning and allow for the UDF development.
The project, he said, would add $80,000 to the city's coffers each year. Last month, Schulkens predicted that the UDF project would happen.
The Kenton County Planning Commission, according to Mayor Dan Bell, gave Peace a letter that outlined next steps. Bell said that ordinances were not necessary.
"There has never been an application filed with the Planning Commission," said Bell. "And he doesn't have the two-and-a-half acres." One issue facing the proposed project is state-owned property nearby that would be needed if the development were to move forward.
Schulkens said that he and his client wanted to work hand in hand with the city, and they know that if the state doesn't give the perimeter land to the city the Peace family would have put a lot of effort into nothing. But he wanted to make sure the issue is still moving along so that if and when the state does decide, the city will be ready.
In other business, the city commission listened to an update about the new 800 megahertz P25 radio system that will be coming to the region. Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann, County Administrator Joe Shriver, and Emergency Communications director Tommy Thompson have been making the rounds at city meetings explaining the project. The county officials told the city leaders that the new radio system plans have progressed enough that they will be going out for bid. There will be 4,000 radios involved across the three Northern Kentucky counties.
"We have talked to twelve or thirteen cities so far," said Knochelmann, who leads a county with nineteen cities. "The old system is outdated, more than obsolete. This is exciting. It is a regional project now. This is the best project in decades."
Shriver took over and recapped the information, saying the county hired an independent consultant that told the county that 7 out of 9 infrastructure components were obsolete, and that it would cost $5 million to update the system properly, whereas the new digital system would cost $5.6 million.
Commissioner Roger Reis had some questions ready when the presentation was finished. He wanted to know if the system would be able to be upgraded, and was told yes, it would be in the budget to be upgraded when needed. He also asked if they had talked to other cities in the state, and was told yes, but the state of Kentucky on the whole is a little behind on the issue. They told Reis there is no plan to get the digital system implemented throughout Kentucky, although the major cities of Louisville and Lexington are on board.
Mayor Bell asked if the county would be able to use existing towers, and he was told yes, and that the only tower that would have to be added is in the southeast corner of the county, a site that has been described as "a hole in a hole" as far as signals go.
Knochelmann reiterated that the county is looking for grants that can be used to help the cities with the cost of the radios. Bell acknowledged that that was a good thing because Taylor Mill's cost for the radios was going to be approximately $175,000, a huge hit for a city that has no debt. Later, Bell gave examples of the cost for other cities, saying that for Covington it would be slightly over $1 million, and Edgewood would have a bill for $300,000.
Commissioner Ed Kuehne works with the Boone County Water Rescue, and they are already working with the digital system.
"It is fabulous," he stated. "The communication is fabulous and the clarity is unreal."
Mayor Bell was complimentary.
"This is a complex issue, and a safety issue," he said. "I applaud them for doing this even though it is costly."
Other notes:
City Administrator Jill Bailey read a proclamation declaring September 15 National Childhood Cancer awareness day in the city, and another one declaring September to be City Government Month.
Bailey also said that there was a problem with the roof leaking in the city building and the air conditioning malfunctioned, so there were some minor mold issues that were being addressed.
Margaret Freeman, who lives on Vincent Avenue and has had storm water issues for years was on the agenda, but since City Engineer Mark Brueggeman had a prior commitment and couldn't come to the meeting, the issue was put off till October. Freeman said she did not mind, and said she has been patient for 26 years.
Finally, Commissioner Debby Kreimborg announced that Scott High School would have its homecoming parade on Friday at six, and there would be some road closures for about an hour.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Attorney Mike Schulkens addresses the Taylor Mill city commission