History & Summary of Planning Process:
The City of Covington has been involved in a two year effort since the fall of 2008 to update its Downtown Plan and Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan, as well as revise the downtown zoning districts and develop improved zoning, development and design standards for all the downtown zones.
The initial steps involved a series of outreach efforts to obtain citizen and stakeholder input about developing a true Town Center area within the much larger downtown commercial zones. The current downtown zones involved approximately 525 acres, and the vision of the City Council was to develop a much smaller area, known as the town center, that would eventually contain a new City Hall, a new public plaza and public gathering space, new mixed-use residential commercial and office buildings and centrally located parking facilities in some form of structured parking or parking hidden behind buildings so the focus was on street level pedestrian activities. Within this vision was the intent to develop one or two new pedestrian-oriented streets that could eventually become the "Main Street" or heart of downtown, focused around a true public plaza with a significant architectural feature that becomes the symbol of downtown Covington.
After a year of work, in December of 2009, the City Council endorsed a new Downtown Plan and specifically amended the Downtown Element of the Covington Comprehensive Plan to reflect this new vision for downtown Covington. For most of the ensuing year in 2010, the Planning commission and city staff, along with the help of a consulting team from AHBL Planning & Engineering as well as LMN Architects, developed specific implementation tools of new zoning & development regulations; a new simplified zoning classification system with only 4 commercial/office and multi-family zones; and revised design standards and guidelines. In addition new definitions were developed and various sections of the land use and development code were also amended to reflect the new zoning, development & design standards as well as the new zoning district classifications.
All of the effort to develop new zoning implementation tools involved an extensive process of public participation before the Planning Commission with specific notification of every single property owner within the 525 acres of the old downtown zones, two public forums, one formal public hearing, and 4 subsequent public meetings where public input was accepted. Eventually the City Council also held a formal public hearing and several additional public meetings where public comment was accepted.
These new zoning and design standards focus on pedestrian friendly and walkable streets, creation of new residential housing types in the downtown area, office and commercial establishments surrounded by quality landscaping with new pedestrian linkages; with recognizable links and ties to the Jenkins Creek and Soos Creek corridors and other major retail centers such as Costco, Wal-Mart and the Post Office.