Saturday, February 27, 1999

N.Ky. asks: How's it growing?

Regional panel to look beyond roads, sewers

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ERLANGER — A new group formed to foster more regional planning in Northern Kentucky will look at more than roads, sewers and economic development when it begins work next week.

        The panel, formed by Forward Quest, will break away from the traditional methods of planning and take into account social, demographic and economic dynamics to try to determine not just where, but also how Northern Kentucky is growing.

        “We're looking for a way to bring together the people and organizations doing planning in Northern Kentucky to look at the region in a larger context,” said Erlanger City Administrator Bill Scheyer, one the group's organizers.

        “We have several groups doing planning in Northern Kentucky, and this is a way to bring them together, establish some common topics, share some information,” he said.

        The idea isn't to establish a single planning unit but to have more coordination and sharing of ideas and plans as Northern Kentucky develops.

        “There's no question we need to try and work more together,” said Marshall Slagle, planning services manager for the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, which does planning for Kenton County and several local governments in Campbell County.

        “There are a number of planning units but no overall coordination. It makes some good sense to have some coordination, especially when looking at some long-term things like land use, development trends and the sprawl we're seeing all across Northern Kentucky,” he said.

        The effort grew out of the Governance Task Force of Forward Quest, the company formed in 1996 to implement a wide-ranging set of ideas in the Quest report. Spearheaded by developer Bill Butler of Corporex Cos. in Covington, the Quest report took input from dozens of community, business, social, civic and political leaders to chart what Northern Kentucky could be like in 25 years.

        An 11-member steering committee will do the initial work of the planning group. It includes planners from Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati, economic development officials and local officeholders and will meet for the first time next week.

        “I'm glad elected officials are being invited to attend,” said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore. “Any effort like this will be much more successful when the various governmental bodies around Northern Kentucky are included in the process.”

        After the original planning forum elects officials, special interest groups and citizens will be invited to join.

        Mr. Scheyer said the group will share information on traditional planning topics, like how to better handle stormwater management and infrastructure needs and construction.

        “But we're also going to look at areas such as income disparities, and the changing social and economic demographics in the region,” he said.

        He points to how problems and situations long associated with Northern Kentucky's riv er cities — higher crime rates, deteriorating housing stock and large concentrations of low- to moderate-income residents — are spreading into other areas.

        “Those situations exist all over the area now, not just along the river,” Mr. Scheyer. “We want to determine what the patterns are, where they are headed, what that means for an area, what are the implications of these societal shifts on our communities and what we can do with policy to change or impact what is happening.

        “We've longed as these things in a vacuum, but now we want to step back and a region and look at them in the aggregate,” he said.


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