Friday, September 22, 2017

City Council Roundup: Taxes Pass, Chicken Rule Unchanged

Law, Labor and Licensing Committee Chair David Cameron (r) reports on chicken ordinance.
(Councilmember Ken Bowman listens at left.)
by Robin Gee

City Council passed the expected property tax rate increase at its September 18 meeting. Voting four to two, council passed a 2.4 percent hike in the 2017 property tax rate for a new overall rate is .412 per $100 of property.

The new tax rate includes the compensating rate plus a four percent city revenue increase, the maximum allowed by law.
This equates to a 10-cent increase for every $1,000 in property value. For example, the average home value in the city is $216,000, so the property tax increase would be $21.60 for that property.

RELATED: Proposed Tax Rate Approved

Chicken ordinance remains unchanged


The rules for keeping a chicken coop within the city limits will go unchanged, as per a decision by the city Law, Labor and Licensing Committee.

Committee Chair David Cameron reported to council that the committee met prior to the city council meeting to discuss a request to modify or permit an exception to the existing ordinance on keeping chickens in the city.

In particular question is the limit of 50 feet distance from a chicken coop to neighboring houses. The Dunbar family of Ohio Avenue requested a change, arguing that because their property is on a corner lot it is very hard to comply because their back yard abuts other neighbors’ front yards.

Committee members agreed that they could not look at the ordinance for one case but needed to look at it with an eye toward whether it needs to be changed overall.

The committee reviewed the ordinance and research on similar ordinances in nearby cities. There was a wide range of set back requirements, and Fort Thomas is in the middle range for these ordinances.

Several different options for changing the ordinance, including changes in set back distance and the way it is measured (distance from a neighboring structure versus distance from a property line or from the road) were explored before the committee members agreed that none of the proposed changes would improve the ordinance.

It was noted that the set back rule in the chicken ordinance was developed based on issues of smell, noise and health associated with the keeping animals.

By statute, zoning ordinances can be brought to the Board of Adjustments for variance requests, but the chicken ordinance is not a zoning ordinance. Changing the ordinance to allow variances would be a complicated and long process, but it may be an option for the future, committee members said.

Committee members also looked at photos and a diagram of the Dunbar property provided by the family to see if other options might be available. They determined that the homeowners might have an option to bring the coop into compliance by moving it under the deck at the back of their house.

RELATED: Backyard Chickens Bring Up Issues in Fort Thomas

Ready to get in shape

City Administrator Ron Dill discussed the city’s participation and support for the Jared Lorenzen Project now underway.

Former NFL quarterback and Highlands High School football star Lorenzen has teamed up with documentary director Anthony Holt to film his journey to lose weight and get back in shape.

Fort Thomas based, Living Media, is helping Lorenzen with Public Relations and Marketing.

Much of the filming will take place here in Lorenzen’s hometown but plans are to film across the state, bringing a health message to the citizens of Kentucky and across the U.S.

Lorenzen kicked off his initiative with a "Wednesday Walks with Jared" feature, inviting people to join him at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Tower Park Trail to walk.

Dill said the project fits well within an ongoing discussion by the city’s recreation department about offering a citywide health initiative.

"This opportunity presented itself, and really is hand in glove to where we were headed. This particular project is far reaching beyond inviting our residents to participate because it has some continuation on a network as a documentary with focus on Jared’s efforts," he said.

The city has been helping with selection of locations and support for the various events associated with the project. A mobile gym will be based in Fort Thomas, but will travel across the state over the next year presenting health and exercise programming.

Lorenzen partnered with a nonprofit organization called Now Lets Get Fit dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles. He started a Facebook page that garnered a lot of interest. Nothing has been determined yet about where the footage will air, but discussions are underway with larger media outlets including cable television networks.

Dill said he is hoping to continue the Wednesday Walks indefinitely and to use the Lorenzen Project as a springboard for an ongoing citywide health and fitness program.

RELATED: Former Highlands, UK and NFL Player Jared Lorenzen Launches His Documentary and Weight Loss Challenge Platform

Ready for the Blues

Fort Thomas Fire Chief Mark Bailey announced city public safety personnel are ready to go and prepared for the crowds expected at the city’s first Blues festival on September 23.

The Band of Helping Hands Blues Festival will feature popular local Blues artists, including Greg Mebs, a resident of Fort Thomas.

Mebs is a founding member of G. Miles and the Band of Helping Hands organization that supports and funds activities for children and young adults in our area in the form of mentoring and personal growth, aimed at helping those with special needs, challenging home situations, medical complications or financial constraints.

The festival will start at 1 p.m., and most acts will be in the Tower Park Amphitheater. The evening will be topped off with a performance by guest artist Paul Thorn in the Mess Hall.

RELATED: Don’t Miss Fort Thomas First Blues Festival

Chief Bailey also reminded council that October is Fire Prevention Month. Activities will include school tours and presentations throughout the month.

Ready for a Vision

Mayor Eric Haas reminded all that the Visioning project is underway. He invited and encouraged everyone interested in the future of Fort Thomas to attend the kickoff meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 25.

RELATED: Committees Forming for Visioning Project

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