The City of Covington is hosting several meetings this week in hopes of using community stakeholders' opinions to revamp the zoning ordinance.
The current ordinance separates city buildings based on its use. Public officials say they want form-based code, which focuses on the aesthetic of the building.
"I would say our residents are the experts. It's their experiences in our neighborhoods that are going to help us understand what's important," preservation and planning specialist Christopher Myers says. "What makes your neighborhood special? Where are the opportunities to improve development and make your quality of life and quality of place even greater?"
Pamela Mullins has lived in the city for almost 65 years. She says she attended Monday's meeting because she was concerned about potential changes for the East Side where she lives.
"What I wanted to be sure of is our neighborhood doesn't get left behind and does not have drastic changes with business(es) coming through when it's primarily residential," she says.
She says she supports business growth in her neighborhood if it will help lower the unemployment rate.
Cincinnati had a similar process in 2013 and began adopting form-based coding in Madisonville, College Hill, Walnut Hills and Westwood.
According to public officials, Covington City Commission voted in November to allocate up to $220,000 from the general fund for national consultant Kendig Keast Collaborative. The consulting company is facilitating the public engagement meetings and will assist in drafting legislation.
The new ordinance will be a guiding document for future land use and development. It will not push for either building or demolition of structures.
"We talk a lot about wanting to have a community and a neighborhood of choice," Dan Petronio of Center for Great Neighborhoods says. "Where people of choice choose to live here because they see the things that they want. And folks that may have not had a lot of choice still feel like, 'I'm benefitting from changes in the community and I'm wanted here.' "
At Monday's meeting, residents and a property owner suggested expanding sidewalks to make them more accessible to alternative transportation, including motorized wheelchairs and skate boards.
Public officials say they are waiting to hear from stakeholders before they draft the new document.
The city will host two events Wednesday: Open Design Studio from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and a final presentation 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Hellmann Creative Center at 321 M.L.K. Jr. Blvd.
Before leaving the community meeting, a facilitator reminds everyone this is the first step and it will be awhile until they can see changes.