Hilltop plan to get an update

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The Greater Hilltop Area Plan may be soon be getting an update.

Adopted in 2001, the Greater Hilltop Plan is the city’s official guide for design and development within the Hilltop area, including all residential and commercial uses.

Mark Dravillas, a representative from the City of Columbus’ Planning Division, visited the Greater Hilltop Area Commission on Dec. 2 and announced a need for an amendment to the plan.

According to Dravillas, the division has been updating area plans throughout the city, and would like to do the same within the Hilltop, focusing on land use and urban design. It would also include design guidelines for future development in the area.

The Planning Division does not intend to design and implement amendments to the plan without the input of residents and leaders from the Hilltop, said Dravillas. Instead, they have asked the commission to appoint a working committee that would partner with the city for the plan’s development.

The committee, which will likely be made up of local residents, business owners and elected officials, will meet with a representative of the Planning Division five or six times, Dravillas estimated. They will also be responsible for researching what already exists in the neighborhood and what residents would like to see in the future.

While these meetings will not be open to the public, there will also be two public meetings and an open house throughout the planning process, where residents will be able to see the progress of the plan and make suggestions.

According to Dravillas, the city is not taking on the responsibility of communicating with the public about the progress of the plan. Instead, they are laying that responsibility on the working committee and the GHAC.

“It’s your job to fill the room at public meetings,” he said. “We find that in one or two public meetings, everyone can say what they need to say.”

The working committee will need to approve the final draft of the plan, which would then be forwarded to the GHAC for approval before being presented to Columbus City Council.

The committee is expected to hold its first meeting in January 2009. Dravillas hopes to see the amendments completed and ready for adoption by the end of the 2009 calendar year. The horizon of the updated plan is expected to be 10 years.

The timing of the plan’s redesign has been timed to coincide with the design of the Hilltop Mobility Plan, which is now getting underway.

Dravillas says it is the city’s hope that the two plans can work together to accomplish a greater future for the area. While the area plan will focus on topics such as building design, green space and sign restrictions, the mobility plan will focus on roadways, street signs and sidewalks.

According to GHAC Chair Chuck Patterson, the existing plan has not always been strictly followed, and an update may just be what is needed to implement new practices.

“This is very important,” Patterson stressed.

Anyone interested in serving on the working committee for the area plan should contact the commission at www.theghac.com.

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