By William Croyle
LAKESIDE PARK - What was anticipated to be a public discussion Monday night on the possibility of a merger with Crestview Hills turned into a fervent debate among Lakeside Park city council members, resulting in an unexpected vote to move forward with a merger study.
About 100 Lakeside Park residents attended the meeting. More than two dozen expressed opinions on the merger with the majority speaking against it. One person spoke in favor of it while about a half-dozen people said they wanted a study on the issue.
The debate became heated when councilwoman Katherine Terwort expressed anger over the way the merger question was presented to her and city residents.
"...The merger issue was brought to the attention of Crestview Hills without authorization from (Lakeside Park) city council and without communication to the residents of Lakeside Park," said Terwort. "Crestview Hills residents received a letter from their mayor. Lakeside Park residents did not."
Terwort made a motion that the city not conduct a merger study. The motion failed, 4-3, with Mayor Karen Gamelbreaking the tie.
Councilman John Nienaber then made a motion that the city enter into a contract with the Northern Kentucky Area Development District for a merger study for $1,935, or half of the cost, with Crestview Hills paying for the other half. The motion passed, with Gamel again breaking the tie.
"It wasn't a tough decision," said Gamel on breaking the ties. "I believe the city should be open and it's the responsibility of council to investigate inquiries."
Crestview Hills city council still must approve the study in order for it to take place. Gamel said the study would take 3-6 months to complete. For the merger to be voted on in the November general election, both councils will have to enact an ordinance by mid-August. A majority of voters in each city would then have to approve the measure in November for the merger to occur.
Most residents in attendance Monday were against it because of the fear that properties on Dixie Highway - all zoned residential in Lakeside Park - will turn into a commercial zone like Dixie Highway in Crestview Hills.
"We do believe it would be changed," said Pamela Taylor, a Lakeside Park resident for 19 years. "For us, it's the fear of the commercialization."
Terry Bramlage has lived in the city for 17 years and was happy with the vote. "A merger may benefit us or it may not benefit us at all. But you don't know until you get the facts," said Bramlage.
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