“We live in a wonderful town. At times, I think we are guilty of being too complacent with that fact. We need to remember to keep and maintain what we have as the village continues to prosper and grow,’’ said Steve Hilbert, Plain City police chief and village administrator, as he addressed the Plain City Historical Society on Oct. 23.
Hilbert’s comments hit home with the Historical Society, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Founded in 1982, the society held its first meeting with five members. Today’s membership is over 200, 40 of which attended last week’s meeting to hear Hilbert talk about village developments.
Regarding the recently opened Route 42 bypass, which diverts truck traffic around the village instead of through it, Hilbert said, “What a relief to have that done.”
The project took about 18 months to complete.
Hilbert said a traffic survey showed that 1,200 semi-trucks traveled through the downtown area each day before the bypass was completed. The bypass opens areas for development; Hilbert said the village is looking at industrial and commercial development, not residential.
Downtown Plain City and areas along the Route 42 bypass have been included in a Community Reinvestment Area, giving commercial developers a tax incentive for development.
“We’re starting to get phone calls regarding what land is available in that area. The village doesn’t really want retail development in the outer area but more commercial development,” Hilbert said.
Hilbert said repaving of Route 42 through the village and for all of Main Street is scheduled to be done next year. Also, new development in the bypass area will be handled through access roads.
Regarding the West Street/Route 42 intersection, a member of the Historical Society asked if a stoplight was planned. Hilbert said he recently met with the Ohio Department of Transportation regarding the number of accidents at the intersection. The meeting’s outcome did not seem to favor a stoplight, he said.
Hilbert reported that two housing developments will bring needed property tax dollars to the community. One is a 220-home development, “Oak Grove,” along Route 42 and an upscale 160-home development, “Eagles Landing,” to be built off pf Plain City-Georgesville Road.
“With growth, a lot of people think we’re growing too fast, but some of the businesses you have seen building new buildings here are businesses that have been here for years and are just moving to a new site,” Hilbert said. “Residential development is still being limited.”
He added that the new interest in development in Plain City is attracting new ideas.
“We have a girls’ soccer group from Columbus that is looking at renovating the old Shape Form building to develop an indoor practice field. This could bring 100 to 150 families out here who will be dropping their kids off at the site for practice and spending an hour or so in our town until they pick their kids back up from practice,’’ Hilbert said.