Skip to code content (skip section selection)
5.08.01 Purpose. The purpose of the Mixed Use Corridor Overlay Zone is to provide for a pedestrian friendly, mixed use corridor consistent with the Madison Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan's recommended land use and transportation goals, objectives, policies, and strategies. This zone is intended to assist in the redevelopment of the Madison Avenue Corridor so that it may serve as a destination for residents to live, work, and have access to a wide variety of small- to medium-sized retail, office, and service uses. The MUC-O Zone regulations collectively promote high quality site design, creating a sense of place within the corridor anti providing a livable environment for existing residents while enhancing the value and aesthetics of the surrounding community. The design intent of the MUC-O Zone is as follows:
(A) Provide a walkable mixed-use corridor that is inviting to pedestrians, nearby residents, and the traveling public.
(B) Encourage and maintain a pedestrian friendly urban environment while minimizing the impact of the automobile.
(C) Provide an appropriate mix of commercial, office, and residential uses that work together to create a harmonious streetscape.
(D) Establish building form and architectural standards compatible with the historic character of the area.
(E) Ensure that development is compatible with adjoining residential zones and uses.
5.08.02 Conflict. In any case where the standards and requirements of the MUC-O Zone conflict with those of the underlying zoning districts or other provisions of the Covington Zoning Ordinance, the standards and requirements of the MUC-O Zone shall apply.
5.08.03 Applicability and Extent.
(A) The regulations of this section apply to all development proposed within the boundaries of the MUC-O Zones, as shown on the official zoning map.
(B) Upon approval of an MUC-O Zone, the official zoning map shall be amended by adding the suffix MUC-O, in parentheses, to the existing zones, i.e. RU-2 (MUC-O), within the identified areas.
(C) The MUC-O Zone may be superimposed conditions imposed of this section and the applicable requirements of the subdivision regulations are met.
(D) The requirements of this section shall not apply to existing single- or two-family homes that are used exclusively for residential purposes. Additions or renovations to such structures or accessory uses are permitted, subject to the zoning requirements of the underlying zone as well as the Residential Infill Development regulations, per § 2.04. Existing single- and two-family homes that are partially or fully destroyed may be rebuilt as a matter of right. Routine maintenance and in-kind replacement of materials are exempt from the standards and requirements of this section.
(E) Any existing nonconforming structures and uses shall be regulated by Article 14.
(F) The MUC-O Zone regulations shall apply to any of the following activities:
(1) Any change of use that includes the renovation or change of any exterior facade; or
(2) Construction of new structures; or
(3) Any substantial addition or other development of an existing developed site where the proposed addition is clearly visible from any street, as described in Table 1.
Table 1- Substantial Additions to Existing Developed Sites
Where Existing Structure Is
Substantial Increase - An Addition Of
0 – 1,000 sq. ft.
101% or greater
1,001 – 10,000 sq. ft.
40% or greater
10,001 – 25,000 sq. ft.
30% or greater
25,001 – 50,000 sq. ft.
20% or greater
50,001 sq. ft. and above
10% or greater
(4) The renovation or change of any exterior facade; or
(5) Any development of vacant land or buildings that occurs after the effective date of this section; or
(6) Parking area expansion or reconfiguration or redesign of existing parking or equivalent paved area, pursuant to § 5.08.11 of these regulations; or
(7) New or the expansion of accessory structures, pursuant to §§ 5.08.07 and 5.08.09, of these regulations.
5.08.04 Review and Approval Procedures. Developments within the MUC-O Zone require review and approval in accordance with the following procedures:
(A) Pre-application meeting: Prior to filing for development plan review, the developer, petitioner, applicant, or property owner shall attend a pre-application meeting with PDS, city staff, and the Urban Forestry Board to discuss the development review process, the MUC-O Zone requirements, the City of Covington Zoning Ordinance requirements, and the City of Covington's Book of Streetscape Standards.
(B) No person may rely upon any comment concerning a proposed development plan, or any expression of any nature about the proposal made by any participant at the pre-application conference as a representation or implication that the proposal ultimately will be approved or rejected in any form. This meeting is intended to review the development plan and identify any issues in applying the regulations of the MUC-O Zone.
(C) Stage II Development Plan Review: Projects may be built as a matter of right when they meet all of the standards of the MUC-O Zone regulations. Incomplete applications will not be accepted for review. Following the formal submission of a Stage II Development Plan, the KCPC's duly authorized representative/PDS Staff shall prepare a recommendation of approval, approval with conditions, or disapproval. This recommendation shall be forwarded to the city's Chief Administrative Official or his/her designee.
(D) Final review and approval by the city's Chief Administrative Official or his/her designee shall take place within 30 days from receipt of PDS staff recommendation.
(E) Compliance with the code: Compliance with the MUC-O Zone regulations shall be evaluated based on the intent of the Code, how well the development conforms to the regulations and whether it is consistent with the city's goals and plans. Minor modifications shall be reviewed and discussed at the pre-application conference and shall be based on problems related to topography, or street grade, the location of streets, breaks and passages between buildings, signs, streetscape details, design issues related to the inclusion of green infrastructure stormwater management practices, inclusion of existing buildings or mature trees as part of a development proposal. All other modifications from compliance with the MUC-O Zone regulations that are not specifically under the review jurisdiction of the Board of Adjustment may be considered and approved only through the design review procedure of § 12.15.
(F) Permit Process. Zoning and Building Permits will not be issued for building activity until the Stage II Development Plan review process is completed and a determination is made by the city's Chief Administrative Official or his/her designee, that the proposal is consistent with the MUCO Zone regulations, per the approved plan.
5.08.05 Permitted Uses.
(A) Permitted uses, conditional uses, and accessory uses within the MUC-O Zone shall be as specified within the underlying zones.
(B) Where permitted in the underlying zones, the following uses are also subject to these additional standards:
(1) Entertainment Uses. Entertainment and spectator sports establishments shall be conducted within an enclosed building with a maximum capacity of 300 persons.
(2) Parking, Non-accessory. Retail space shall be incorporated on the ground floor, facing the street. Underground parking is permitted, not to count toward the measurement of building height.
(3) Gasoline Stations: Must have a canopy over the fuel pumps that is attached to and is an extension of the main structure. The canopy must have either a cross-gabled or cross-hipped roof that is consistent with the main structure's roof color, material, and pitch.
5.08.06 Lot and Building Standards. All development in the MUC-O Zone shall comply with the following lot and building standards (see Table 2). See § 9.08 for other rules governing measurements and exceptions to these standards.
5.08.07 Accessory Uses.
(A) Customary accessory uses and structures.
(B) Any use or structure customarily incidental to a principal permitted use or structures, or incidental to a conditional use for which a permit has been issued.
(C) Signs, as regulated by Article 10 and § 5.08.14.
Table 2 - Lot and Building Standards
Mixed use buildings
All other buildings
Maximum floor area ratio1
Min. lot area per dwelling unit (sq. ft.)
Maximum height (stories)2
Minimum height (stories)2
Maximum Front Setback (ft.)3
Minimum Side Setback (ft.)
Abutting R Zone
10% lot width
Abutting non-R Zone
Minimum Rear Setback (ft.)
Abutting property line of R-zoned lot
25% lot depth or 25ft, whichever is less
Abutting alley, street or non-R Zone
Floors containing dwelling units
1 The gross floor area of commercial establishments shall not exceed 15,000 square feet.
2 The height of adjacent buildings shall not deviate by more than one story.
3 Pedestrian amenities may locate within the front setback per the requirements of § 5.08.09(F)(2).
(D) Private off-street parking areas, as regulated by Article 7 and the requirements contained in §5.08.11.
(E) Fences and walls, as regulated in Article 9 of this zoning ordinance.
5.08.08 Streetscape Requirements. Streetscape requirements within the MUC-O Zone shall meet the following standards:
(A) Verge/Planting Strips/Street Trees. Along arterial streets, a minimum verge strip of feet shall be maintained with planting types that meet the requirements of the existing landscape regulations. Street trees shall be required adjacent to arterial streets within the MUC-O Zone, with one tree every 40 feet on center (maximum). This may be located within the right-of-way per the approval of an encroachment permit from the city or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, whichever applies.
(B) Facades with customer entrance, or are visible from streets, sidewalks, or pedestrian amenities, or other public uses: One tree planted within 15 feet of the building, for each 50 feet of facade length. Street trees can count towards this requirement.
(C) The clustering of trees may be permitted as long as the same number of trees are planted. Trees must be spaced properly to accommodate tree size and maturity.
5.08.09 Building Form Standards.
(A) Building Placement.
(1) Buildings shall be placed within ten feet of the front and street side property lines (Figure 1).
(1) Ground Floor Transparency. Transparent windows and doors shall comprise a minimum percentage of the street-facing facade between and eight feet in height above grade, as specified in Table 3. Such windows and doors shall allow views into and out of the building. Materials such as opaque or darkly-tinted glass or glass block are not considered to be transparent (Figure 2).
(2) The following minimum standards apply:
Street Frontage (linear feet)
40 or less
81 or more
(a) Upper Story Transparency. Upper story walls facing streets and off-street parking areas shall have between 50 and 65% transparency.
(4) Display windows. Display windows that do not provide visual access into the interior of the building count toward the minimum transparency percentage, provided that they are at least two feet in depth.
(5) Waivers and modifications. Waivers or modifications of these transparency standards may be approved only through the Design Review procedure of § 12.15.
(C) Building entrances.
(1) The main customer entrance for a building shall face a public or private street. Secondary entrances are permitted if located on the rear wall of the building.
(2) All sides of a principal building that directly face an abutting public street shall include at least one customer entrance.
(3) Corner building entrances on corner lots shall be provided, unless the corner is beveled or incorporates other detailing to reduce the angular appearance of the building at the street corner.
(4) Customer entrances shall include at least three of the following:
(a) Canopies or porticos.
(b) Roof overhangs.
(e) Raised corniced parapets over the door.
(g) Integral planters or wing walls that can accommodate landscaped areas or outdoor seating areas.
(5) Service entrances for shipping and receiving shall not be visible from a public street.
(D) Building materials and colors.
(1) Acceptable exterior building materials include but are not limited to the following:
(a) Pre-cast concrete.
(c) Split face or scored CMU.
(f) Ceramic tile.
(g) Architectural metals.
(h) Nonreflective glass.
(j) Smooth hardie plank.
(2) The following exterior building materials are not permitted:
(a) Metal cladding or paneling, except for temporary office management or storage uses during the construction phase.
(d) Stone veneer.
(3) Building colors shall be low- reflecting, muted, and neutral or earth-toned. Roof colors shall be muted and compatible with the dominant building color. High-intensity colors, bright colors, metallic colors or fluorescent colors are not permitted. Black may only be used as an accent color, or on windows and window surrounds and trim. It shall not be used as the main color or on major trim elements.
(E) Standards for roofs and parapets. Where clearly visible from streets, sidewalks, outdoor amenities, recreational areas or other public uses.
(1) Materials. The following materials are permitted:
(a) Clay or concrete (faux clay).
(b) Tile (barrel or flat roman).
(c) Slate (Equivalent synthetic or better).
(d) Metal (Standing seam 5-v crimp, equivalent or better).
(e) Asphalt shingle or wood shakes.
(2) Only the following configurations and techniques are permitted:
(a) Roof shapes.
1. Side gabled.
2. Front gabled.
3. Cross gabled.
4. Simple hipped.
5. Pyramidal hipped.
6. Cross hipped.
8. Flat with parapet.
(b) Pitched roofs (exclusive of roofs behind parapet walls).
1. The primary ridge beam shall run parallel to the street.
2. Simple hip and gable roofs shall be symmetrically pitched between 25% and 50%.
3. Mechanical equipment must be screened from view from the ground from all public use areas, adjacent to the site in question.
4. Sloping roofs with a vertical rise that exceeds one-half the average height of supporting walls as measured along each facade are not permitted.
1. Eaves must overhang at least 24 inches on primary structures.
2. Rakes (gable end) must overhang at least 18 inches.
3. Balconies must be minimum of four feet of platform and be accessible from the interior.
(3) Parapet Roofs and Other Features.
(a) Parapets, towers, or cornices both incorporating a peaked or a flat-faced elevation shall be incorporated into each building design in the development.
(b) Parapet walls sufficiently high enough to screen rooftop mechanical from viewing shall conceal roofs of building structures that are generally flat. This regulation may not be waived or modified.
(c) Parapet height shall be measured at the top of the Parapet, including any coping. An additional feet in height by 12 feet in width (or is percent of the facade, whichever is greater) is permitted for a section of the Parapet emphasizing the building's main street entry or a corner. Any other variations regarding building heights must receive a variance.
(d) Facades that exceed 100 feet in length measured along the street frontage shall have variations in roofline or rooftop parapet.
(F) Building Façade Treatments.
(1) Commercial and mixed-use building facades shall not have a blank, uninterrupted length greater than 40 feet without including a change in plane and one additional feature, such as changes in texture or pattern, projections, or recesses, having a depth of at least 3% of the entire length of the facade and extending at least 20% of the entire length of the facade.
(2) Side or rear walls facing walkways or visible from a street shall include false windows defined by frames, sills and lintels, only when actual doors and windows are not feasible because of the building use.
(G) Pedestrian Amenities.
(1) All commercial and mixed-use developments shall provide two or more pedestrian amenities from the following list:
(a) A plaza, courtyard, square, or extra-wide sidewalk (minimum of eight feet wide) next to the building entrance.
(b) Sitting space on benches or ledges between the building entrance and sidewalk (minimum of 16 inches in height and 30 inches in width).
(c) Building canopy, awning, pergola, or similar weather protection (minimum projection of four feet over a sidewalk or other pedestrian space).
(d) Public art that incorporates seating (e.g. fountain, sculpture, etc.)
(e) Transit amenity, such as a bus shelter or pullout, in accordance with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky's guidelines.
(f) Any other public amenity approved by the city's Chief Administrative Official or his/her designee.
(2) Pedestrian amenities may be located within the front setback or within the public right-of-way per the approval of an encroachment permit from the city or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet whichever applies.
(3) Pedestrian amenities may also be developed between buildings, thus interrupting the continuous building street wall. Such areas shall be accessible to the public or serve an adjacent business. The design of such spaces shall ensure that parking to the rear of buildings is effectively screened through the use of fences, walls, or evergreens or a combination thereof, Such screening materials shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of this zoning ordinance.
5.08.10 Utilities. All utilities shall be located underground when any new development or redevelopment occurs. Utilities may be located above ground if the utilities are accessible from the rear lot line and enter the rear of the building. This regulation may not be waived or modified.
5.08.11 Off-Street Parking, Loading/ Unloading and Access Management.
(A) The number and design of off-street parking areas shall meet the requirements of Article 7, including provisions for special parking studies, shared parking, and cooperative parking.
(1) Off-street parking areas shall be located at the rear or side of the building. No off- street parking shall be located on street corners.
(2) Parking located on the side of the building shall not be more than 10% the total number of requited off-street parking spaces.
(C) The required off-street parking for any use may be located on property within 500 feet of the subject site. An agreement providing for the shared/cooperative use of parking, executed by the parties involved, must be filed with the Zoning Administrator, in a form approved by the Zoning" Administrator. Shared/cooperative parking privileges will continue in effect only as long as the agreement, binding on all parties, remains in force. If the agreement is no longer in force, then parking must be provided as otherwise required by Article 7.
(D) For mixed-use buildings, the total parking requirement shall be determined by a special parking study according to the requirements contained in § 7.05, a shared use parking agreement according to the requirements contained in § 7.08, or a cooperative parking agreement according to the requirements contained in § 7.09.
(E) Parking area screening shall be provided, as regulated by § 8.02.
(F) Off-street loading spaces shall be provided and screened, as regulated by § 7.13.
(G) Access to individual parcels shall be regulated by § 7.12.
(H) Interparcel Access Requirements. For all uses located in the MUC-O Zone, the property owner shall grant an access easement to each adjoining property owner. The purpose of the easement is to facilitate movement of customers and their vehicles from establishment to establishment (lot to lot) without generating additional turning movements on a public or private roadway. Such interparcel access easements shall be recorded and reference to deed book and copy of such recorded easement shall be provided to the city. Setbacks, curb, and perimeter landscaping requirements shall not apply to the interparcel access easement area. The interparcel access easement shall be provided subject to the following provisions:
(1) The interparcel access easement shall permit automobile access from the adjoining property to driveways and parking areas intended for customer or tenant use; but the use of parking spaces may be restricted to the owner's customers and tenants only.
(2) The granting of such easement shall be effective upon the granting of a reciprocal easement by the adjoining property owner.
(3) Upon the availability of access to driveways and parking areas of the adjoining lot, the pavement or other surfacing of the owner's driveways and parking areas shall be extended to the point of access on the property line.
(4) The location of vehicular connections across a property line should be mutually determined and constructed by both property owners. In the case of coordination problems or any factors preventing construction of an interparcel connection, the city shall determine the location of connection to be constructed by property owners.
(5) Where the proposed land use is such that adverse impact of the required easement on the use of the property would outweigh the reduced impact on the public street provided by the reciprocal easements, the city may waive the requirement for access easements, in whole or in part, administratively, as a minor modification.
(I) No new curb cuts onto arterial or collector streets are allowed for lots that abut alleys (i.e. access must be from the alley). This regulation may not be waived or modified.
5.08.12 Drive-Through Facilities.
(A) Drive-through facilities shall only be accessory to banks and other financial institutions and drug store uses, whether such uses are principal or accessory uses.
(B) Drive-through facilities shall be located at the rear of buildings on shall be completely screened from all adjacent right-of-ways.
(C) Ingress and egress to the drive-through shall not be provided directly from arterial or collector streets.
(D) In no circumstances shall a new curb cut be approved to provide access to a drive-through facility.
(E) Only one stacking lane per drive-through facility is permitted.
5.08.13 Lighting. Lighting requirements shall meet the following:
(A) General Requirements. Light poles shall be consistent in design with the overall architectural theme of the corridor. Pedestrian-oriented lighting should be at smaller scales to light walkways and plazas while parking area lighting should be at larger scales to light parking areas and vehicular circulation routes.
(B) Continuity. All lighting, including but not limited to building lighting, security lights, and architectural lights should be from the same family of fixtures to maintain continuity throughout the MUC-O Zone.
(C) Off-Street Parking Areas and Pedestrian Lighting.
(1) Light fixtures should be spaced at regular intervals and offer continuous ground plane overlap.
(2) Light fixtures shall be located at least two feet back from the curb within a public right- of-way. Light poles shall not exceed 30 feet in height.
(3) Lighting should be used in combination with signage standards and other elements where possible.
(4) Lighting should be coordinated with street tree plantings for proper integration.
(5) Lighting should be maintained along the length of both sides of the public and private roadways.
(6) Glare Reduction and Lighting Levels.
(a) All non-decorative lighting shall be fully shielded lights that do not emit light rays at angles above the horizontal plane as certified by a photometric test report.
(b) Decorative, pedestrian-scale lights are encouraged in areas of pedestrian activity. All decorative lights over ten feet in height shall be fully shielded to avoid light spillage on adjacent property and road rights-of-way.
(c) Where lighting abuts a residentially used or zoned property, the maximum illumination at the property line shall not exceed 0.5-foot candles. Where lighting abuts a non-residentially used or zoned property, the maximum illumination at the property line shall not exceed 1-foot candle.
(d) Lighting located on the building wall shall be fully shielded to direct the light downward.
(D) Prohibited Lighting.
(1) Neon accent lighting is prohibited on buildings and structures.
(2) Bare metal light poles and elevated "sonotube" type concrete bases are prohibited.
5.08.14 Sign Regulations.
(A) Article 10 of the Covington Zoning Ordinance applies with the following additional regulations:
(1) Facade signs are permitted only within the area between the first story and the second story, but no higher than 25 feet, and no lower than 10 feet above the adjacent grade.
(2) Non-illuminated names of buildings dates of erection monument statues, tablets when carved into stone, concrete, metal, or any other permanent type of construction and integral part of an allowed structure are permitted, not larger than five square feet in size.
(3) Pole signs and cabinet-type facade signs are not permitted.
(4) Flashing, traveling, animated, or intermittent lighting are not permitted.
(5) No illuminated signage is permitted that would glare into residential units within multi-use structures.
(6) Pedestrian-oriented signs.
(a) Pedestrian oriented signs are signs that are designed for and directed toward pedestrians so that they can easily and comfortably read the sign, as they stand adjacent to the business (see Figure 3).
(b) One pedestrian-oriented sign is permitted per business for facades facing the public street.
(c) Signs of this type shall be erected on or attached to and not parallel to a building.
(d) Signs must not be placed lower than ten feet above grade.
(e) Signs must not exceed four square feet in size and not extend beyond the building wall more than 24 inches.
(7) Finish materials. All exterior materials will be of high quality, durable, and easy to maintain, and provide for longevity of use. Permitted finish materials include:
(b) Wood, painted, stained or natural;
(c) Metal; and
(d) Plastic, when used for individual letters and symbols only.
(8) The regulations established in § 5.08.14(A)(1) - (6) may not be waived or modified.
(Ord. O-45-08, passed 10-28-08; Am. Ord. O-22-12, passed 8-7-12; Am. Ord. O-04-15, passed 3-19-15)