Fort Thomas, Ky.
April 2, 2001
The Regular Meeting of the Board of Council was called to order by Mayor Mary H. Brown at 8:00 P.M. on Monday, April 2, 2001. She asked City Clerk Dottie Ivie to call the roll, and the following Councilmembers were recorded as present: Barbara Runge, Jim Doepker, Karen Lied, Roger Peterman, and Tom Fernandez. Eric Haas was absent. Also attending were the following staff members: Jeff Earlywine, City Administrative Officer; Jann Seidenfaden, City Attorney; Fred Ewald, Director of Finance; Jay Treft, Assistant to the CAO; Fire Chief Dale Edmondson and Police Chief Steve Schmidt.
Minutes of the previous Regular Meeting on March 19, 2001, were included in the Council packets for Council's review. It was moved (Runge) and seconded (Lied) that they be approved as presented; a voice vote was unanimous Ayes; motion carried.
Requesting to be placed on the Council Agenda for the meeting were Mr. and Mrs. Floyd "Bubs" Basham, 14 Millers Lane. Others in attendance who spoke at the podium included: Mr. Paul Sheldon, 26 Millers Lane; Dr. Carl Rekow, who is a member of the Fort Thomas Forward Committee; Mr. Jeff McMahon, 41 West Villa Place; Ms. Patricia Borne, 45 Audubon; Mr. Ed Rollins, 47 Indiana; Ms. Pam Frink, 31 Highland Avenue; Ms. Peggy Everhart, 40 Chalfonte; Mrs. Kim Weyer, 56 Woodland Place; Ms. Cindy Hunt, 33 Lumley Avenue; Mr. Steven Herzine, 37 Audubon; Mr. Bruce Rath, 218 North Ft. Thomas Avenue; and Mr. Nick Prather, 34 Tremont Avenue;
Mr. Basham, said he was speaking on behalf of several neighbors including Mr. and Mrs. Harry Robinson, 22 Millers Lane. He noted their concerns that they might have to give up their homes of many years. He said he has been a resident for 75 years and there has been a lack of information provided to the residents in the area about what the Ft. Thomas Forward group is planning to do. He said that Jane Stegeman, as well as others over the years, have commented on how much they have enjoyed the attractive flowers in the Basham yard. Mr. Sheldon expressed concerns about any relocation as well, and asked if a feasibility study and market study have been done to determine the need for this project. He also asked where the money is coming from to fund the revitalization efforts. He said that citizens want to be considered, and suggested that maybe a special election should be held to see if such ideas are approved by the community.
Mr. Earlywine addressed these concerns by reviewing the process that began about two years ago with a Council-initiated Long-Range Planning group. The suggestions and ideas they came up with were then handed off to a cohesive and representative group of citizens, later named "Fort Thomas Forward," to study possible improvements to the business areas and gateways into the City with the assistance of a professional planner. This group, along with the City staff, developed a Request for Proposals and hired the PB Booker Company, with David Hafley and Chris Manning as primary advisors. They have been meeting and working on these concepts for the past eighteen months, and decided to concentrate their first efforts within the "Town Center."
Mr. Earlywine said they are about two months away from making their final report and recommendation to Council. Their spoken preference in recent meetings has been for the "Aggressive Plan" over the "Conservative Plan" in making changes to the Central Business District area. This could, indeed, impact some homes that are adjacent to any of the planned changes. He said that the Ft. Thomas Forward Committee's study is, in effect, the feasibility study, which will be presented to Council probably in June. Council will then carefully consider these recommendations, along with options for funding these improvements. At that point, with the goal date being September 1, 2001, after Council makes some critical decisions and sets priorities, a market study would be in order. This would help determine economic and neighborhood impacts.
In response to a question as to what was the initial rationale for the formation of the Fort Thomas Forward Committee, Mayor Brown stated that Council had expressed some concerns about an increasing number of business vacancies. It was the original intent to take some initiatives to keep our several business areas fully occupied, to invite in any new businesses that might serve the citizens' needs and to make all of these areas as well as the entrances to the City more inviting and attractive. She said that the process of studying past history, current needs and recommending improvements for the future is a slow one. She asked that citizens "be patient with the City." It was never the intent, she said, to bring in large commercial operations (such as Walgreen's or McDonald's), which would generate traffic from other communities, but to keep our own business areas "viable, attractive and supportive of the lifestyle of our citizens." Since the last update to the Comprehensive Plan, she said, it has become evident that the needs of the community have changed and are changing, and "some things need to be done differently, or better." Also, the City's recent development of a Master Plan for Recreation has brought forth additional suggestions as to how the City can better serve the people of Fort Thomas.
Several citizens spoke to Council about these issues. Mr. McMahon said, as a realtor and owner of a music studio, he is in favor of making more locations available to private businesses rather than moving people out of homes. He expressed concerns about the increased traffic that a business center would bring and asked if public funds are now being set aside for funding these proposed changes. Mrs. Lied commented that rather than using public funds, we are seeking grant monies from the State and "we are encouraging private developers to work with and become partners with the City." Also, it is hoped that any façade improvements will be in partnership with business owners or as a result of private citizens groups.
Mr. Earlywine said that the City has already been successful in obtaining a grant award (of $95,000) from the Kentucky Renaissance project. Other funds may become available through the State's on-going "Main Street" project. In addition, he continued, the City has acquired two pieces of property as they have become available in recent months, "in order to retain temporary control of the future use of these buildings and to preserve any options in the future." (Note: These two buildings are the former bakery site at the corner of North Ft. Thomas Avenue and Lumley Avenue, and the Bank One Building between Millers Lane and Lumley Avenue on North Ft. Thomas Avenue.) I
Mrs. Borne asked why all of the Fort Thomas Forward meetings have been held at 4:00 P.M. which is an inconvenient time for many citizens to attend and participate. (This time was chosen by the original members of the group, as the most workable and convenient time for them. It was stated that any public hearing will be held during evening hours.) Mr. Rollins, a new resident, said they picked this area (Ft. Thomas) to live in because "it is the way it is, unique." And he asked how many members of the Council or the Committee actually live in this area, or are subject to getting their homes taken. Mayor Brown responded that we are not trying to change the unique character of our City, but rather to provide good business districts where small entrepreneurs will locate their businesses to serve the people of Fort Thomas.
Ms. Pam Frink, who has lived here 1½ years, said she has enjoyed walking up to the Town Center and wondered why there were restrictions placed on restaurants so they can't have outside eating. Ms. Peggy Everhart suggested that the Highland Avenue and Grand Avenue area be considered for upgrading. Mayor Brown responded that this area is indeed on the list as a prime area to become an attractive Gateway into the City. First, there will be concentrated efforts on the Central Business District and then the emphasis will be placed on several other locations, including the Midway area, the Inverness area, and the Highland and Grand area.
Mrs. Kim Weyer asked if the City could provide any update to the issue of changes to the utility poles on her street, Woodland Place. Mr. Earlywine responded that he has talked with Cinergy recently and will be receiving their report at the end of April or first of May. These plans will be presented to Council prior to any action being taken and in addition, a Public Hearing will be scheduled in May for all residents with specific notifications to property owners in the affected areas from Elmwood through Montvale and to include Woodland Place.
Ms. Cindy Hunt, 33 Lumley Ave., said she bought her home one year ago and needs to know a definite time frame for the decisions because she is in the process of repairing and remodeling her home and that is now in limbo. She said she didn't think the area was looking bad, or rundown, but in any event, she said, "we need a direct answer now if 10 or 12 homes are going to be destroyed."
There was some general discussion of the need for better communication between the planning group and the City to the citizens to let them know what options are being considered. Mr. Fernandez suggested that the City make an extra effort to send the residents copies of the minutes from future meetings of Fort Thomas Forward. Mr. Earlywine said that a mailing list will be developed for these residents. (Note: the next meeting of this group is Monday, April 23, 2001, at 4:00 P.M. at the City Building, 2nd Floor, Council Chambers.) Mr. Steven Herzina requested that meetings be held at a time that he can attend. Mr. Bruce Rath said he has attended a number of these meetings; he discussed some of the actions of the group and also stated a complaint that the City's street sweeper isn't picking up debris properly in his area. (218 North Ft. Thomas Ave.) Mr. Nick Prather wondered about property values and whether they would decrease if the property owners were "held hostage for five years." It was agreed that the City staff will develop several ways to keep the property owners informed, including mailings to those in the immediate area, public notices posted, messages on the City's website (Note: www.ftthomas.org), and information provided to media personnel and through the City's newsletter From the Fountain.
Mayor Brown, hearing no other request to be recognized for comments, then asked that the City Clerk read a letter which was received from Mr. James P. Gray, 10 Trinity Place, regarding utility poles within the planned improvement project area. His suggestions were made to Mr. Earlywine, who is passing his letter along to Council for the record. It was moved (Doepker), seconded (Runge) and given unanimous Aye voice vote to receive and file the letter. Then, a letter from Mrs. Joan Kirst, 84 Summit Avenue, regarding a change in the TANK bus route, was read by the Clerk, and was received and filed upon motion (Runge), second (Lied) and unanimous Aye voice vote.
A Report from the Public Works Committee was then read by the Clerk, in regards to their recent Public Hearing on the 2001 Street Resurfacing and Sidewalk Improvements Program. It is their recommendation that the staff be authorized to solicit bids for the project and that the 1st Reading of an Ordinance declaring Intent to Proceed be placed on the Agenda for tonight's Council meeting. Mr. Doepker commented on the good public response, to the staff for their excellent answers to the numerous questions from those attending and to Mr. Haas, who "did a good job as Chairman." So moved, (Runge) seconded (Lied), motion carried.
Mr. Earlywine, City Administrative Officer, discussed the Lease Agreement currently being negotiated with Citizens Bank for rental of the Bank One Building owned by the City. The final draft as presented to Council members was approved, upon motion (Fernandez), second (Peterman), and unanimous Aye voice vote.
He then reviewed an Interlocal Agreement for the purchase of equipment within the Public Works Department (a bucket truck) and it was approved upon motion (Peterman), second (Fernandez), and unanimous Aye voice vote. This equipment will be shared, both cost-wise and usage, among three cities (Fort Thomas, Edgewood, and Taylor Mill).
Under New Business, Mr. Earlywine then discussed the purchase of another piece of Public Works equipment through the Federal DLA Agency, which would be the first time the City has purchased any items under a Federal contract. The purchase price is very reasonable and was approved upon motion (Peterman), second (Fernandez), and unanimous Aye Roll Call vote.
The Finance Committee presented a Report on Vouchers, with a recommendation that Council approve payments for the presented documents. So moved (Doepker), seconded (Lied), and upon Roll Call vote, all voted Aye; motion carried.
Ordinance No. O-4-2001, Amending the Traffic Ordinance to reduce the speed limit on Shawnee Avenue from 25 MPH to 15 MPH, was given second reading and was adopted upon motion, second, and unanimous Aye Roll Call vote.
Three Ordinances relating to Animal Nuisances were presented for second Readings and Roll Call votes were recorded for each. Ordinance O-5-2001, Prohibiting Animal Nuisances, was adopted, upon motion (Doepker), second (Lied), and unanimous Aye vote. Ordinance O-6-2001, Defining Owners of Animal Nuisances, was adopted upon motion (Lied), second (Doepker), and unanimous Aye vote. Ordinance O-7-2001, Setting Fines for Violation of Animal Nuisances, was adopted upon motion, (Lied), second (Doepker) and unanimous Aye vote.
Ordinance No. O-8-2001, Amending the Fiscal Year 2000-2001 Budget, was presented for Second Reading and upon motion to adopt (Runge), second (Lied), and unanimous Aye Roll Call vote, the motion carried.
Ordinance No. O-9-2001, Intent to Proceed with the 2001 Capital Improvements Program, was given a 1st Reading and will be laid over until the next Regular Council Meeting to give Council an opportunity to review it and a vote will be taken at that time.
Municipal Order MO-10-2001, Approval of a Lease Agreement between the City of Fort Thomas and Citizens Bank of Campbell County, was adopted upon motion (Peterman), second (Fernandez), and unanimous Aye voice vote. There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned.
Mary H. Brown, Mayor
Dorothy A. Ivie, City Clerk