Zoning is the classification of land into districts. The purpose of zoning is to regulate the use of land including the use, placement, size of buildings, yard requirements and parking. A zoning law consists of two parts: (1) a zoning map showing the boundaries of the various districts; and (2) a written text (called a zoning ordinance) setting forth the regulations applicable to each district. Zoning’s main purpose is to protect and preserve the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens of each community, but also to facilitate orderly and harmonious development and the visual or historical character of the community, and to regulate the density of population and intensity of land use in order to provide for adequate light and air.
The uses that are allowed on a particular lot are governed by the regulations for the zoning district in which the lot is located and other general regulations. The minimum yard requirements, more commonly referred to as "setback requirements", along with other location regulations, restrict the location of structures on a lot. The setback requirements vary by zoning district. In order to find out the zoning of your property and how the use of the property is regulated, you can: (1) use our online search at linkgis.org
; (2) find the appropriate zoning map at nkapc.org
; or (3) contact the NKAPC staff at 859.331.8980.
If you are researching property in the following cities, please contact that city directly for zoning information:
• Villa Hills
The zoning ordinances for each jurisdiction are maintained by the staff of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC). You can access them at nkapc.org
A request for a map amendment (zone change) is required in such cases where development which is proposed on a site is not consistent with the current zoning. Requests may originate from the property owner (or agent), the planning commission or the legislative body. Complete applications are submitted to the staff of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Kenton County Planning Commission, which holds at least one public hearing following public notice. Findings of fact and recommendation including a summary of evidence and testimony are then sent to the legislative body for final action to be taken on the request. Approximately four to six months should be anticipated to complete the map amendment process.
Each city’s/county’s legislative body makes all decisions on zoning regulations. While the Kenton County Planning Commission gives a recommendation on proposed zoning text amendments, it is ultimately up to the city/county to decide whether or not to adopt that change. If you believe it would be in the city's or county’s best interest to consider a zoning regulation change, that conversation must start with the city council/commission or the Kenton County Fiscal Court, depending on your location.
Many of the subdivisions in the county are subject to covenants and deed restrictions which regulate the use of property beyond the limitations contained in the city’s/county's zoning ordinance. These deeds and covenants are private agreements between property owners and are not enforced by the city or county. Therefore, before you add a shed or fence to your property or initiate any other significant changes, you should also check with your homeowners' association to determine if any restrictions apply.
Each community has a Board of Adjustment that makes case-by-case decisions on requests by property owners under specific circumstances. Like the Planning Commission, Board members are local citizens appointed by the city, and are not professional planners.
The primary duties of the Board of Adjustment are:
• Hear property owner requests regarding variances to requirements of the zoning ordinance. For example, most zoning categories have a "setback" requirement from the street and side and rear yard lines. If a property owner residing in a zone that required a six-foot side yard setback wanted to make a house addition that extended to four feet, they would need board approval to do so.
• Hear cases involving request by property owners to have specified conditional uses permitted on their property. Every zoning category has a list of conditional uses that can only be allowed if approved by the Board of Adjustment. An example of this type of case would be churches in areas zoned residential. Before a church can locate (or expand) in a residential zoning district, they would need to apply for a conditional use permit.
• Hear change of nonconforming use requests. If the zoning regulations have changed and no longer include a land use that is currently operating in that district, it is allowed to continue as a nonconforming use. Occasionally, a property owner will request that they be allowed to change their land use to something with less impact on surrounding properties, but is still not allowed by the zoning regulations. In this case, the Board of Adjustment would decide whether or not to allow this use change, subject to certain conditions.
• Hear administrative appeals from zoning enforcement decisions, including interpretation of zoning laws. Any party who feels that an enforcement or interpretation action was incorrect may appeal that decision to the Board for final determination.
It is a long-range vision and guide for public and private development in Kenton County. The plan includes such elements as demographics, utilities, land use, transportation and so on. Together, these elements form a guide outlining the existing and potential future development for Kenton County. As per the Kentucky Revised Statutes the Comprehensive Plan is required to be updated as necessary every five years. The Comprehensive Plan Update: 2006-2026 for Kenton County was adopted in December 2006. While NKAPC provides professional assistance in developing the Comprehensive Plan, ultimately, the Kenton County Planning Commission is responsible for adoption.
These are a comprehensive approaches to planning at a “neighborhood” level. The intent is to take an in-depth look at various elements such as existing conditions, land use, and market potential. One important feature that sets these studies apart from the comprehensive plan is public participation. Public input is more specific to direct needs and desires for an area where residents live, work and play. These studies are attractive to residents and businesses because of the more personalized nature of the planning effort.
Zoning includes a set of regulations associated with a piece of property and specifies areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place within an area. Future land use recommendations outline the best fit for future development in the county.
The future land use map is a recommendation for how an area or property should be used. In the future when a property develops or redevelops, the future land use map provides a starting point for suggesting how it should be developed.
When a zone change is requested the request is analyzed based on recommendations in the comprehensive plan. If the requested change is not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan then the applicant is asked to demonstrate one of the following:
A) That the existing zoning classification given to the property is inappropriate and that the proposed zoning classification is appropriate; or B) that there have been major changes of an economic, physical or social nature within the area involved which were not anticipated in the adopted comprehensive plan and which have substantially altered the basic character of such area.
In addition the comprehensive plan offers guidance on environmental concerns in Kenton County such as hillside and riparian protection, watershed planning and green infrastructure.