Thursday, September 2, 2004

Ky. 17 plan predicts growth

Fort Wright to vote on draft Sept. 8

By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

View of Ky. 17 looking north from I-275 in Fort Wright. Planners are presenting recommendations to Fort Wright city council on the development of the area.
(Patrick Reddy/The Enquirer)
FORT WRIGHT - City Council will vote Sept. 8 on a draft proposal of a long-range plan to develop a three-mile stretch of Ky. 17 near Interstate 275 where Wal-Mart is set to open this month.

Area planners recommended to City Council on Wednesday that the area be designated as a special development area to give the city more control over growth, including architectural guidelines for new buildings.

If council approves the draft proposal, area planners will draw up a comprehensive plan and then zoning guidelines, each of which must also be approved by City Council.

Officials from the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission have studied the site since March, anticipating increased traffic from the long-planned Wal-Mart and expected growth in neighboring areas.

Independence, just a few miles south on Ky. 17, is expected to add 6,000 households by 2020, said Keith Logsdon, deputy director of long-range planning for the commission.

Ky. 17, or Licking Pike, provides the best north-south access to I-275 for southern portions of Kenton County, where most of the population growth is expected, Logsdon said.

The area would be made up of mostly retail and residential development, with road improvements to handle more traffic and a heavy emphasis on green space along Banklick Creek.

"The challenge is to increase traffic capacity without widening the highway," Logsdon said.

Most left-hand turns would be eliminated, and interior access roads would run through parking lots, which planners recommended be placed behind buildings. Highland Pike also could be extended a short way across Ky. 17.

At least one roundabout - a road junction formed around a circle with traffic moving in only one direction - will be added to Ky. 17, likely near the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky hub, which could be expanded.

About 43 percent of the area is vacant, but most of that land is in a flood plain or is too steep to build on, and 21 percent is zoned for industrial use, planners said.

The planning commission recommended zoning regulations that would allow multi-family and senior citizen housing and retail development, noting that the area's supply of office and industrial space is higher than the demand.

However, the commission forecasts some limited long-range potential for office and industrial growth.

The northern end of the proposed zoning district, near Howard Litzler Road, would likely remain unchanged, Logsdon said, although it could be zoned for future industrial development.

The central portion of the zone, near Wal-Mart and I-275, would add retail and residential development, although Eaton Asphalt Paving Co. and a new Sanitation District No. 1 facility will remain.

The southern end of the development zone, near the junction with Old Ky. 17, would remain zoned for industrial use, with added green space and some high-density residential development, planners said.

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