By Rick Palsgrove
The city of Columbus is in the process of updating its Greater South East Area Plan.
According to Jackie Yeoman, LEED Green Associate and Senior Planner for the city of Columbus, the update includes analysis of existing land use and zoning for every parcel in the plan area in order to provide a land use recommendation for each.
“Community engagement is included in our planning efforts and we have a general survey community members or interested parties may take regarding the South East Area,” said Yeoman. “We will also be collecting public comment on our Draft Recommended Land Use map beginning in November.”
The Draft Recommended Land Use map will be available online as an interactive map that allows the public to click on a parcel, view the draft recommendations, and make comments.
“The Greater South East Area planning process is happening at the same time as an update to the Far East Area Plan,” said Yeoman. “You may find additional information about both plans at www.columbus.gov/planning/sefe.”
Boundaries for the area plan
The boundaries for the Greater South East Area Plan are approximately Blacklick Creek on the north and west, U.S. Route 33 on the west and south, the Norfolk Southern Railroad on the north, (excluding Brice) and the Franklin County line on the east. The plan area covers about 12.4 square miles, some of which is developed while other parts are still open fields or park land.
Some of the land has already been annexed into the city of Columbus and some portions are still in Madison Township.
The plan area includes portions of four school districts – Columbus, Canal Winchester, Groveport Madison, and Pickerington. Under the school district Win-Win Agreement, land annexed to the city of Columbus after 1986 becomes part of the Columbus Public Schools. Land annexed to Columbus prior to 1986 remains in the school district it was in at the time.
About updating plan
Yeoman said the Greater South East Area Plan will address future land use and design and be used to guide community and city review of future rezoning and variance requests.
“Background work on the area plan process began in summer 2017 and it is tentatively scheduled to be complete in mid-2018,” said Yeoman.
The updated area plan will include an updated Land Use Plan, Land Use Policies and Design Guidelines that are used by city staff and community members (Area Commissioners) to review and comment on rezoning and variance requests related to development, according to Yeoman.
She said that in 2007, the South East Area Plan Bixby Road Economic Development Amendment was adopted to be used alongside the South East Area Plan, which was introduced in 2000.
“Both of these plans, as well as the Brice-Tussing Area Plan of 1990, will be replaced by the updated Greater South East and Far East Area Plans,” said Yeoman. “The recommendations of these plans have been reviewed and considered as part of the updated plan recommendations.
Open spaces and mixed use
Yeoman said an important recommendation of the original Southeast Area Plan was preservation of open space and floodplains.
“Since the plan was adopted in 2000, major accomplishments have been made toward open space preservation,” said Yeoman. “Currently in the South East area, there are over 2,000 acres of parks or open space, a large portion of which is Pickerington Ponds.”
Yeoman said the plans are based on the principles of healthy and complete communities, guided growth and sustainable development, and design and character.
“These principles speak to the importance of neighborhoods having neighborhood centers and destinations that include a range of housing types, retail and community services and employment opportunities,” said Yeoman.
“One way the plan will support this principle is through recommendations for mixed use development and higher density residential along primary corridors and within established commercial centers.”
She said this type of development helps create a positive sense of place for residents, and supports transportation options, such as public transit and walking.
“It also focuses retail development primarily in areas recommended for mixed use,” said Yeoman.
She said the area plan provides policy recommendations and it will not require any existing zoning or land uses to change.
“It also does not mean that development will occur, that is, it does not ‘create’ new development,” said Yeoman. “It does provide policy guidance for the city and community to use when development is proposed that requires a change or variance to existing zoning.”
She said that, while it is uncertain when future development will occur in the area, “the plan provides recommendations to help guide and focus growth in a way that will benefit the community.”
Local residents are encouraged to comment on the plan update. Anyone interested in updates regarding the plan should email Festus Manly-Spain at FAManly-Spain@columbus.gov to be placed on the contact list.