|Fort Thomas Planning Commission set a date for a public hearing on April 17 to review a development proposal for the central business district.|
By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor
A public hearing has been set by the Fort Thomas Planning Commission for discussion and a possible vote on a proposal for a mixed-use development in the central business district.
The hearing will be held April 17 starting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers (large room, second floor) in the city building at 130 N. Fort Thomas Ave.
The application the Planning Commission was given did not include a final plan, drawings or renderings of the proposed plan, but city staff said that would be available before the public hearing for residents to review to be able to give input.
The project would include condominiums with first-floor commercial space that would encompass properties on the corner of Woodland and Highland and down North Fort Thomas Avenue. Properties involved include 3, 15, 19 and 25 North Fort Thomas Avenue as well as 9 Highland Avenue.
Interest high in meetings with neighbors
Earlier this month, neighbors on Woodland Place, a cul-de-sac that runs behind the proposed development, met with Dan Gorman, a Fort Thomas resident and owner of United Property Group, to review some of the plans under consideration by the developer.
Gorman had met with a handful of residents in January of this year to discuss the developer’s plans. He said he wanted to update those residents as the developer was beginning to prepare to approach the city Planning Commission.
Interest had built among neighbors since the first meeting, so much so that when the update meeting was called, it had to be moved to Colonel De’s restaurant to accommodate the crowd that included owners of most of the 25 homes on Woodland Place.
The plans presented at that meeting had changed since it had first been discussed, and neighbors grew concerned when they saw that the entrance to the condo parking garage had been moved to Woodland Place.
Residents express concern over changes
Residents appreciated that Gorman had reached out to them and involved them in the process, said Patti Hudepohl, who lives on Woodland Place and served on the city’s Land Use and Zoning Committee. Yet, the change in the parking entrance caused concern over traffic, noise and safety near the top of the street, she said.
Hudepohl and other residents requested a second meeting with the developers to further discuss their concerns and explore options. While no agreement was reached at that meeting, she said she was hopeful further discussion would take place. Residents also planned a meeting with Mayor Eric Haas and City Administrator Ron Dill.
A few Woodland Place residents attended the Planning Commission meeting although they said they were aware that there would be no public comment section at that time. No plan specifics or visuals had been shared with city officials, but the developer is required to present plans for consideration before the public hearing in April. Once available, city residents, as well as officials, will be able to look at them.
Public hearing set for April
The March Planning Commission meeting was short. Gorman, who is vice chair of the commission, officially absented himself from the discussion and vote because he owns some of the properties included in development plans. After quick discussion, the remaining commissioners voted to hold the public hearing at their April 17 meeting.
Chair Dan Fehler explained the public is invited to comment at the public hearing. He said that while a decision could be made at the same meeting, a large and complex project such as this one may be carried over to the next meeting in May.
He pointed out the commission is charged with determining whether or not the developer’s plans meet all the safety regulations, zoning requirements, rules and guidelines set forth in the city ordinances and comprehensive community plan. If the project meets those requirements, the commission must accept the project proposal.
Unlike last year’s text amendment and zoning change, the project does not go to city council for approval. The Planning Commission will make the final decision.
"It was good of the developer and Dan [Gorman] to meet with us, to show us things. Maybe they thought about the things that we said. We don’t know, because we haven’t seen the most recent plans. But we will keep working with them," said Hudepohl.
"And, it will be good for people to see what the plans are," added Woodland Place resident Hilary Landwehr. "There are safety issues that concern me."
The city will post on its website when project information becomes available. The Planning Commission has seven members: Dan Fehler, chairman; Dan Gorman, vice chair; Dave Wormald, secretary; Jerry Noran; Tim Michel; Larry Schultz and Hans Tinkler.