Covington considers resolution against NKY Port Authority Skip to content

Covington considers resolution against NKY Port Authority

The resolution, which asks the Port Authority to stop doing business in Covington, will be voted on next week.

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Members of the Covington City Commission at the meeting on Feb. 6, 2024. (photo by Nathan Granger | LINK nky)

proposed resolution came before the Covington City Commission at their caucus meeting Tuesday night that requests for the Northern Kentucky Riverport Authority, or the Port Authority, to stop doing business in the city unless it agrees to abide by local zoning and historic preservation standards.

Commissioners will engage in discussion on the resolution and then cast a vote at next week’s meeting.

Specifically, the resolution “requests the Northern Kentucky Riverport Authority refrain from doing business in the City of Covington, unless those business activities are directly related to its core functions of maintaining, operating, and expending necessary and proper riverport and navigational facilities, or attracting industrial or commercial operations to property it holds as industrial parks.”

The Port Authority is a governmental organization founded in the 1960s by a joint agreement between the fiscal courts of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties to attract and manage industry and navigation on the Ohio and Licking Rivers. The authority experienced a long period of relative inactivity until 2022, when it was revived following an investment campaign led by BE NKY (at the time called Tri-ED), a local economic development company. Today, it functions largely as a vehicle to develop regional commerce. Two well-known economic development projects in Covington, the OneNKY Center and SparkHaus, will use buildings owned by the Port Authority.

The commissioners did not engage in any discussion on the matter at the meeting, but Mayor Joe Meyer talked about the resolution with LINK nky immediately after the meeting.

“The Port Authority’s a great organization,” Meyer said, but as a distinct governmental organization, they aren’t required to abide by Covington’s local neighborhood zoning and historical preservation standards, which Meyer argued were integral to the city’s identity and success.

He added that none of the members of the Port Authority were from Covington, and thus may be unfamiliar “with the fact that our success as a city is built on the historic preservation and the zoning as a real important community values.”

Port Authority properties are also not subject to city taxes.

Meyer has been engaged in conversations with the counties and the Port Authority to discuss the issue since June . The resolution would not be a binding piece of legislation and would not have enough power to actually stop the authority from doing its business. Instead, it would serve as a symbolic gesture, showing where the commission stood on the matter.

Meyer’s biggest point of contention was that, even though the Port Authority had said they would abide by local zoning standards, they were unwilling to put it in writing.

Representatives from the Port Authority did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, but the authority’s board of directors did send a statement to LINK nky responding to the prospect of the resolution.

“The Northern Kentucky Port Authority board of directors values partnership and collaboration with the cities and counties we serve and desires to deliver projects and commercial real estate solutions those communities support,” the statement read. “The NKY Port is complying with City of Covington codes for development and historic preservation with both the OneNKY Center and SparkHaus projects and has been working in close collaboration with city staff on these projects since their inception.”

Meyer said he was optimistic about resolving the issue in the future.

“I’m very hopeful,” Meyer said.

The commission will vote on the resolution at their next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, which will take place at 6 p.m. at Covington City Hall on Pike Street.

Read a full text of the resolution here.

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Written by Nathan Granger. Cross-posted from Link NKY.



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