Community input wanted as village grows

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Franklin County officials are seeking input from village residents regarding future development in Urbancrest.

At the April 9 council meeting, administrators with the county’s economic development and planning department discussed the creation of a community plan that could become a guideline for development for generations to come.

According to administrative planner Matthew Brown, the department wants to hear how residents envision land use, affordable housing, transportation, economic development and other planning issues facing the community.

“Your voices are vital to the success of the plan.”

A community plan is needed for the village, Brown said to the council, because of the projected growth of the surrounding area.

“Reports indicate that the central Ohio region will grow by more than one million people by the year 2050,” he said. “This is a critical time for all of our communities to plan for the future.”

Due to its proximity to a major interstate and its potential for residential and business growth, Brown said Urbancrest will likely become a prime location for investors and investments.

“With a community plan in place, the residents will get to say how the land will be used,” he stated.

During this discussion, he asked the council about entering into a partnership that would allow the department to move forward with the creation of a community plan at no cost to the village. The council made a motion to put the item on the agenda and later approved the creation of a community plan.

“I think having a community plan is a great idea,” said Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. “I always say that failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

He went on to add that by entering into this partnership with the county, the village is continuing the tradition of leaving a legacy for the following generations.

“Our founders laid the foundation for this village and it is our duty to build upon that foundation,” said Barnes. “Then it is up to them to build off of what we have left behind.”

Under the terms of the partnership, the village will form a working committee that will “reflect all major stakeholder groups.” It is to be comprised of six members of the planning commission, up to two individuals appointed by the mayor and up to three individuals appointed by the director or a designee of the planning department. The members of the working committee will be responsible for representing the broad public interest during the planning process, assisting with fieldwork, reviewing materials prepared during the planning process and conducting community outreach and soliciting members of the public to provide comments. They will also be required to be in attendance during the public meetings that discuss the phases of the community plan as it moves into its drafting stages.

As the creation of the community plan has just been authorized, the next step for the department will be to conduct a market analysis study on the village, which is going to be commissioned by the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation. Its CEO, Curtiss Williams, said the data will be used to help the village “market itself.”

“So if you see a lot of people walking around or getting out of their cars taking pictures and asking questions, it’s probably going to be someone we contracted to do the study,” he said.

Afterward, the work on gathering public opinion on future land use, housing, transportation, economic development and other planning issues will begin. Brown said the time frame for the final approval of the plan will be one year.

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