Urban farm in Covington will have homes despite pushback from neighbors

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A plan to save an entire urban farm will not be presented to City of Covington officials.

This farmhouse, called Orchard Park by neighbors, is on the corner of Orchard Street and Locust Street in the Westside of Covington. In March, gardeners learned that the city wanted to develop the vacant city-owned land, which neighbors turned into vegetable fields and a chicken coop seven years ago.

The garden space is part of a larger effort to develop 17 Westside properties to bring more housing to the neighborhood. The city planned to develop half of the garden in single-family dwellings and the other half in neighborhood park as a compromise to keep part of the green spaces.

But the neighbors wanted to continue sowing every square inch of the half acre space. One of them even helped create a development plan to do just that and bring housing to the block.

This plan was one of 21 proposals the city received from eight developers for various combinations of lots and buildings that the city would like to see transformed into housing.

The one submitted by Covington-based Orleans Development and the nonprofit Center for Great Neighborhoods was the favorite of a review committee.

On Tuesday, city commissioners are expected to vote to approve it, according to the meeting’s agenda.

This is not what the gardeners wanted to see.

The plans

In May, community gardeners approved a plan that their neighbor, Melissa Baird, helped put in place with a Covington-based Work Architecture + Design.

The plan was to save the entire garden and add seven single-family homes – including a Habitat for Humanity home – and a nine-unit condominium to the block, according to the development request shared with The Enquirer.

“We felt it was a good compromise,” said Janet Tobler, garden organizer and Westside resident. Tobler explained that they wanted to keep the entire garden as it promoted social and environmental benefits.

This proposal was not one of the city’s favorites.

The Enquirer asked what the city’s concerns were with the proposal.

“It would be inappropriate, unfair and certainly unusual for the city to criticize and denigrate any proposal, even those which are not currently the ‘preferred’ proposal,” Covington communications director Dan Hassert said in an e- mail to The Enquirer.

At a meeting of commissioners on July 13, Covington Ward Services Director Ken Smith gave a presentation on the plans and told city officials they had secured five “good” proposals from among the 21 submissions.

A five-member review committee chose a plan from Covington-based Orleans Development and the Center for Great Neighborhoods as its favorite, which will be recommended to the city for approval on Tuesday.

The committee included representatives from the Neighborhood Services Department, Economic Development Department, Parks and Recreation Division, Historic Preservation Division, and Federal Grants / Housing Assistance Division.

Hassert told The Enquirer in an email that the committee chose this project because it remains true to the intention of the city’s purchase of the properties, brings many housing units to the area while remaining consistent with the “look” and “feel” of the neighborhood, creates off-street residential parking and more.

It will transform 11 lots into 10 new 1,350 square foot townhouses with two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, estimated to cost $ 312,500. The developers will also build a custom home, use a historic building as a home office, and design a quarter-acre park with the residents of Westside.

What happens next?

City commissioners will meet on Tuesday to vote on the recommended proposal.

Tobler said she hopes commissioners reject the proposal and consider one that keeps the half-acre community garden intact.

“People I talk to seem saddened that this can be taken away,” Tobler said.

If you are going to:

  • Where: 20 West Pike Street in Covington.
  • When: 6 p.m.

To weigh in, email your election officials:

Julia is the Northern Kentucky government reporter for the Report For America program. The Enquirer needs local donors to help fund his grant-funded position. If you would like to support Julia’s work, you can donate to her Report For America post. on this site or email his editor Carl Weiser at [email protected] to find out how you can help fund his work.

Do you know something she should know? Drop her a note at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JFair_Reports.

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