Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Boone Co. plan safeguards ecology

Draft omits phrase about development

Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — A revised list of goals and objectives for Boone County's Comprehensive Plan could make it tougher for developers to tear up the environment simply for the sake of profit.

        Planning Commission Executive Director Kevin Costello presented the draft list at Monday's Boone Fiscal Court caucus meeting. A second and final reading is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 13.

        A phrase from the Environment portion of the 1994 goals and objectives calling for protection of Boone County's ecology but allowing “a reasonable economic return from the land” was deleted from the new document.

        “The long-range planning committee believed that phrase has been misused by developers ... to allow developers to pretty much get away with whatever they wanted to do,” county planner John Huth said.

        Judge-executive Gary Moore is confident commissioners will approve the entire update.

        “I feel pretty positive, but it's up to the commissioners,” Mr. Moore said.

        “It does a very good job of balancing better managed growth while partnering with homebuilders and property rights groups.”

        County Commissioner Robert Hay said he would vote for the new document as long as the objectives are not too restrictive on individual types of development.

        Commissioner Cathy Flaig said she needed more public input. Commissioner Rob Arnold did not attend Monday's meeting.

        City Councils in Florence, Union and Walton also have to approve the document.

        Mr. Costello said he would present the proposals to Florence City Coun cil on March 7, but he has not scheduled times with Walton or Union.

        The update comes at a time when Boone County could see its population rise from 85,000 to 130,000 by 2020.

        Most live in the northern, eastern and southern sections of the county, but neither Mr. Costello nor Mr. Huth sees a so-called “maximum build-out” of homes, businesses and infrastructure to the western part of the county in the next 20 years.

        Mr. Huth said population has increased an average of 2,700 a year since 1990.

        “I think generally the development has occurred where we thought,” Mr. Costello said.

        “The rate is a lot faster than we projected. ... Seventy percent of the new housing (in Northern Kentucky) is built in Boone County.

        “The question is, is that going to continue in Boone County?”

        A related change in the goals and objectives might deal with such growth. It calls for the county to support incentives and innovative de signs to create a transition from urban to rural development.

        Mr. Costello said planners have talked about building small sewer systems in rural areas and acquiring development rights from farmers so they would not be pressured by developers to sell their land.

        The 11-page list has 12 major changes from the 25-year comprehensive plan the county approved in 1994. Proposals include:

        • Encouraging home-based businesses when they do not negatively affect surrounding neighborhoods.

        • Requiring developers to build in phases so schools and infrastructure can adequately support the new construction.

        • Building cellular telephone towers unobtrusive ways in residential or scenic areas.

        The county has been working on the update since November 1998, and Mr. Costello said he hopes to have it in place by this fall.


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