The Kenton County Planning Commission rejected a proposed massive development for a Ludlow Hill by a vote of 14-1.
The city, however, which will have the final say on whether to proceed, seems to appreciate it.
Grand Communities, a developer affiliated with Fischer Homes, is seeking a map amendment to Ludlow’s zoning code to change a 65-acre parcel of land owned by the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the Texas Pacific Railroad Company from an area single-family rural residential to multi-family residential area with a planned unit development overlay. It is located south and west of Highway Avenue, west of the River’s Breeze condominium community, and east of the city railroad.
The plan is to build 28 single family homes, 306 attached condominium units and 400 apartment units.
“This property has been left untapped for many years. This is a great opportunity for the Town of Ludlow,” said Amanda Webb of Grand Communities. The developers also built the River’s Breeze condo community near Ludlow. “I think River’s Breeze has been wonderful for the city. You are going to get some high quality hospitality sites on this property and it will really help downtown Ludlow and the citizens of this area.
“We believe this will strengthen the town of Ludlow. We also believe that we are approaching the comprehensive plan, offering various housing options.
But staff at Kenton County’s Planning and Development Department, as well as the planning commission, have expressed concern about the hill area in question.
According to the geotechnical report carried out on behalf of the promoters, there was the presence of the Kope formation and Eden soils. Although the report says the site is suitable for development, there has been a historic landslide recorded by the Kentucky Geological Survey.
“The report provides historical instability and possible future instability,” PDS staff said, adding that a significant change on the ground could alter stability.
There were also traffic concerns given that the proposed development, dubbed CityView Station, has only one access point off Highway Avenue (KY 8) at an offset intersection with the Montrose street.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has said it will allow a full access point if the existing Montrose Street is replaced with one-way eastbound traffic and on-street parking on Highway Avenue is removed.
PDS staff said the single point of access is undesirable for such a large development and is not compatible with the county’s overall mobility plan.
Planning commission member Joe Pannunzio estimated the development would attract around 1,500 new cars to the area.
“It’s a lot of traffic,” he said. “Going in and out of an entrance and an exit doesn’t seem logical.”
Either way, the city administration appears to support the plan.
Police Chief and Acting City Administrator Scott Smith participated in last week’s virtual hearing.
“What Fischer is offering is really what the city is looking to do, attract more people to the city, provide more homes for people who want to be able to get to Cincinnati,” Smith said. “This will increase our population which will help support our downtown area and businesses looking to survive in Ludlow.
“We support this plan.”
The planning commission is only a recommendation body. Ultimately, the city council will decide whether or not to grant the map change requested by the developers.
The council may have to deal with concerned neighbors if the planning committee meeting is any indication.
Lori Davenport, who lives in the 100 block of Deverill Street, said she was concerned about the development of the city’s green space, the stability of the hill and the expected increase in traffic.
Jim Kiffmeyer, who lives at River’s Breeze, also expressed concern about the degradation of the hillside and the loss of green space.
“I have my questions on this,” he said. “I also think the traffic is going to be a nightmare.
“There’s just a whole bunch of things that just seem illogical to put so many units in that kind of space.”
Melanie Gordon, who lives in the 200 block of Highway Avenue, said traffic problems were already severe during rush hour and also suggested there were flooding issues.
The developers predict that their project would ease the water runoff from the hill.
Resident Abigail Miller said the project would bring “an absurd number of people.”
Planning commission member Keith Logsdon said development was like putting five pounds of flour in a one-pound bag.
Ludlow City Council can address the matter at its next meeting, if they wish. It’s scheduled for Thursday evening.
-Michael Monks, editor and publisher