Making plans

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

As the city grows, Reynoldsburg officials want to create a plan to serve as a blueprint for future plans and investments.

The Comprehensive Master Plan creates a vision of how and where the community grows now and in the future, as well as a guide to inform city decision-makers how to ensure future plans and investments work toward building a common community vision, said Bill Sampson, Reynoldsburg’s director of public service.

The process to create a master plan can take close to a year and involves collecting data, creating implementation strategies and seeking the input of the community.

“This is a pivotal time for the city of Reynoldsburg,” said Aaron Domini, principal at OHM Advisors, a community advancement firm the city has contracted with to coordinate the development of the Comprehensive Master Plan. “With new opportunities and challenges evolving in the city, it is appropriate to pause, consider and plan for how the city should grow in the future.”

The Eastside Messenger interviewed Sampson and Domini about the process of creating a Comprehensive Master Plan, which areas are addressed in the plan and who will help shape the future of the city.

How often are master plans created, and who has input? Is a plan typically updated, or started from scratch?

Sampson: The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission developed a master for Reynoldsburg in 1992. The city has changed significantly since then and that is the reason that, rather than update this document, we would move forward with developing a new plan with the assistance of a professional planning firm. There will be a series of public meetings to solicit input from the residents, business owners, city officials, the school district and MORPC. The master plan will be periodically reviewed and updated as the city grows and develops. It may be necessary to revise or update the plan every five to 10 years. In order for the plan to be relevant it must be current.

Domini: Plans are typically done or updated every 10 to 15 years. The last plan is out of date and does not reflect current public opinion, best practices or the current land use and economic condition in the city.

Which topics are addressed within a master plan?

Sampson: Areas that our comprehensive master plan will address include land use, economic development, transportation, utilities, recreation and housing.

Domini: In addition we will be doing a more detailed study and planning for specific priority redevelopment areas in the city such as Brice and Livingston.

How does having a master plan help city officials in shaping the future of the community?

Sampson: A comprehensive master plan establishes goals, objectives, policies, standards, guidelines and recommendations for growth, development, redevelopment and preservation.

How far out does the plan look, and how do you take into consideration any future unknowns?

Sampson: The master plan will be a road map for city officials and leaders to make decisions which will affect the city. To be relevant, these officials have to identify and address not only current issues of concern to residents, business owners, workers and property owners, but also the emerging issues that will be important in the future. As new elected officials come into city government, they will have the master plan to review and evaluate and be in a position to provide input and updates.

Domini: The horizon will be 10 to 15 years.

What is the need behind drafting a master plan now?

Sampson: Members of the community have expressed a strong interest in local development and growth.

Domini: The need now and has been to create a clear road map for where and how to grow. This will tie together a community vision, economic development strategies and policy, together with capital planning.

Are there any priorities initially – any must haves for this plan?

Sampson: The master plan, with input from the community, must provide an opportunity for city officials to look ahead, establish new visions and directions, set goals and map out plans for the future.

Domini: The plan must consider and reflect public opinion. It must also consider and include specific economic development strategies to make Reynoldsburg competitive in the regional market place.

In what ways will OHM Advisors assist the city in developing a plan?

Sampson: OHM is a nationally-recognized planning firm. They will work with the city to facilitate public participation and build consensus and support.

What effort is being made to include community input in this plan?

Sampson: The approach to this project will heavily prioritize public engagement, with small stakeholder meetings, town hall meetings and a telephonic survey informing the plan’s central themes and outcomes. This extensive public outreach, coupled with a review of existing conditions and the application of best practices in comprehensive planning, will help create a tool that community leaders and Reynoldsburg residents can use to help move Reynoldsburg forward.

As part of the planning process, we are assembling a steering committee to guide and inform the development of the plan. Specific committee member responsibilities will include providing guidance and direction to staff and the consultant team on critical land use issues; disseminating information during the planning process through community networks; assisting the city staff and the consultant team during the adoption process; and serving as stewards once the plan is officially adopted.

How does a project of this magnitude begin?

Sampson: It started with meeting with representatives from a number of planning firms, soliciting their input on how we should proceed, advertising for a consultant planning firm, shortlisting and interviewing the consultants, and selecting a firm that fits with our city’s needs.

Domini: It begins with understanding the existing conditions in the community, best practices, as well as public opinion. From there the beginning of the plan can be shaped from these three key plan inputs.

What does your timeline look like for finalizing the master plan?

Sampson: It will be completed this year, 2018.

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  1. I do not live in the area, but your reporter certainly writes facts as they are, and informs the reader in an interesting way. thank you Christine Bryant


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