Covington Commission ‘Passes’ Development of Orchard Park and Renewal of Legal Services


By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune journalist

Melissa Zanella calls herself “pro-development”.

After all, she is an architect and she understands that progress means money for the city. But Zanella also lives on Lee Street, and as a resident of Westside, she doesn’t want progress to get in the way of her green space, like Orchard Park, where she pulls her flowers, figs and eggs from the garden.

She is also aware of the project which could develop several vacant properties in the area. In fact, she knows it well. She was part of a team that made a proposal to the city, one that she said would keep Orchard Park and its green spaces.

“Please vote no,” she told commissioners at their regular legislative meeting on Tuesday evening. “Thank you.”

Several other residents – young and old – came to speak Tuesday evening on the same topic, each sharing stories about why they love the park and its garden.

The commission was ready to consider an order to select the Aménagement d’Orléans and the Center des Grands Quartiers as promoters of the property.

On 23 MGrch, the city launched a tender seeking a developer for 11 vacant city-owned plots and a single-family structure in the Westside neighborhood. They received five responses from promoters and a selection committee made up of employees from economic development and local services ranked the submissions.

“The committee unanimously recommends that the development of Orléans and the Center des Grands Quartiers be selected,” indicate the city’s documents. They would pay $ 150,000.

On Tuesday evening, Mayor Joseph U. Meyer first responded to Zanella, noting that the project she was a part of had not been considered – at their request. He said their representatives noted that this could be considered at a later date, but not now. Then he thanked the locals.

“We appreciate your passion and interest,” he said. “Thank you for your feedback.”

So the city has evolved. And before making a decision on Tuesday night, they chatted with their interim city manager Ken Smith, who again described the process – making sure to note he had never done business with Orleans before.

“I don’t particularly like being accused of favoritism,” Smith said. Based on a discussion with the residents and the selection committee, Smith described how Orleans was in fact a compromise, noting that there was even another proposal with a better financial offer.

But Smith said the committee decided the project would be worse for the neighborhood and the area.

Ultimately, residents can breathe easier – for now. There still seemed to be too many questions on the project, and the committee decided to ‘ignore’ the matter for now, meaning they may raise it again at a later date, although no date is ‘has been specified.

Bartlett town lawyer resigns

It’s another resignation – but it’s not what you think, city officials say.

Yes, there have been a few city workers who have resigned recently, and you can add City Lawyer Michael Bartlett’s name to that list.

But Bartlett says his decision has nothing to do with more than a great opportunity that comes his way.

“I take pride in the work I have done and believe that my accomplishments should be attributed to the team around me, both within the legal department and within the organization,” Bartlett wrote. in his resignation letter. “The city is blessed with many bright minds and hardworking attitudes. With the right leadership and the right mindset, Covington’s potential is limitless. My next assignment is an opportunity that I cannot refuse. It is something that can potentially change the life of my family. “

Bartlett did not explain what he would do on Tuesday night. “Thank you all for allowing me to join all of you on this journey,” he said.

Commissioner Shannon Smith said she had learned a lot from Bartlett, and Mayor Meyer wished her luck.

“Good luck with the private sector business you are about to take on,” he said.

Renewal of legal services outdated

In an awkward exchange, the commissioners were to vote against renewing a professional services agreement with Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, to help provide general legal services to the city.

“City Legal staff recommend continuing the existing relationship with Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, and one of its key partners, Brandon N. Voelker, in order to improve the profile of city staff and provide general legal services to the city, under the direction of the city notary, ”the city documents indicate.

The agreement provided for approximately 75 hours of legal services per month, including written and oral advice, and possible representation, for an annual retainer of $ 95,000, paid in monthly installments of $ 7,916.67.

In what seemed like a bit of a surprise, Commissioners Smith, Tim Downing and Ron Washington voted against the renewal, causing Mayor Meyer to hesitate for a moment before deciding what to do.

“It’s so important to the functioning of city government,” Mayor Meyer said, noting that it would put the city manager – or in this case, the interim city manager – at an “extreme disadvantage” if he was rejected.

Instead, the committee again chose to “ignore” the matter, or raise it again at a later date, although again, no date was specified.

Messages to the commissioners on Tuesday evening asking them why they were against the renewal went unanswered.

Resignations and promotions

Several resignations and promotions were approved on Tuesday evening, including: the resignation of Deputy City Manager Bruce Applegate;

In the Police Department: the resignations of Pat Swift, Jim West, Jim Isaacs, Jess Hamblin, Scott Dames and Tony Hill; and promotions from: Justin Wietholter, Matt Winship, Josh Bornhorn, Josh Haggard, Jason Hartzler and Justin Meyer;

In the fire department: the resignations of Tara Black, David Dorr, Joseph Finan, Micah Foster, David Geiger, Michael Harris, John Hofstetter and Michael Lee; and promotions from Gary Rucker, Deye, Averbeck, Masson, Wyatt, Gray-Schaefer, Vance, Grady, Bolyard, Eggemeier, Johnson, Vogelpohl, Oberjohann, Meyer, Ausdenmore and Bumpus.

Williams absent

Commissioner Michelle Williams was absent Tuesday evening.

Executive session

At the end of a marathon meeting, Mayor Meyer announced that the commissioners would participate in an executive session “to discuss collective bargaining issues”.

Meyer said no further business would be conducted on the floor after the session.

Next meeting

The next regular meeting of the Covington Commission will be a caucus meeting at 6:00 pm on July 27 at the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington. Meetings can be followed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, TBNK @TBNKonline Facebook page, and TBNK Roku channels.


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