- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Several communities, shopping corridors and recreational areas in Clark County are being considered as locations for opportunities for future development or preservation as part of a long-term strategic planning effort.
Connect Clark County — a local group working to update the county’s land use plan — held three meetings this week to allow residents to provide more input into the county’s future growth and development.
It would be the first update to the county plan in 18 years. The Crossroads Comprehensive Plan is a long-term strategic vision used by the city and county as a road map for future transportation, housing and economic development projects. It was last updated in 1999. Columbus-based consulting firm Planning NEXT has been hired to perform the $214,000 study.
In February, four meetings were held in Enon, Springfield and South Vienna in February; residents were asked to answer the broad question: “Clark County will be a better place if…?” Many of the ideas included more higher-paying jobs, solving the drug epidemic and agencies working together instead of against each other.
At Thursday’s meeting, community members discussed several types of goals, including broad topics and specific types of development.
Attendance for the workshops has been great, Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Transportation Planner Cory Lynn Golden said.
“The comments, questions and opinions we’re getting are wonderful,” she said. “Some are on the same track, so you know that you’re heading in the right direction and others are out of left field, which is great because it’s things we’re not necessarily thinking about.”
Several goals and objectives have been drafted: strengthening physical character, advancing economic prosperity, enhancing quality of life and improving infrastructure.
A draft map of areas designated for potential development has also been created as part of the plan. The map includes eight key areas, including several already developed such as the Upper Valley Mall, the Clark County Fairgrounds and the shopping corridors of Bechtle Avenue, South Limestone Street and the east edge of Springfield along U.S. 40. The map also includes areas of opportunities designated for nine broad concepts, such as agricultural preservation, community investment, neighborhood stabilization and economic growth.
Planners have heard from different demographics and neighborhoods who previously had been silent, Golden said.
“The community support is there,” she said. “If we can make this the start of something and having one image and one vision we can do a lot of good.”
The previous plan included several outdated projects. In 1999, the county’s population was projected to be about 245,000 in 2040; new forecasts show the population is expected to be about 128,000 people in 2040, Golden said.
PRIOR COVERAGE: Commissioners discuss land use plan update
The land use plan is being updated to include new information, address new planning issues, respond to current development trends and integrate new technologies.
Springfield has a large opportunity for growth, said Springfield resident Robert Garcia, who has lived here for 11 years. Garcia works as a financial planner for Modern Woodmen, which recently moved its office to Hull Plaza.
He believes redeveloping downtown and the Upper Valley Mall is important to bringing other businesses here in the future. Collaboration is key moving forward, he said.
“This is a good opportunity to see what we can do together to make Springfield a more invigorating place to live,” he said.
The community will be a better place with fewer drugs on the street, said lifelong Springfield resident Terri King, who attended Thursday’s meeting.
“I’d like to see the drugs completely wiped (out), and I don’t know if there’s more we can do with that,” she said.
There also needs to be more training programs for youth who want to work with local manufacturers, King said.
“Some of these kids go there and they’re lost,” she said. “A lot of that you don’t get in high school.”
Several of the studies completed recently, including the South Limestone Street and the Eastern Edge corridor studies, will be included in the updated comprehensive plan.
The city of Springfield, Clark County and the TCC are sharing the cost to update the plan. The TCC will pay $141,000, while the county will pay about $43,000 and the city will pay about $30,000.
A draft of the updated land use plan with specific goals is expected to be released during public meetings in November. The finalized plan will be used as a planning and zoning document by different local boards, including the Springfield City Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals.
“It’s really the meat of the plan,” Golden said.
The overall plan will be completed by the end of December and is expected to be completed and sent to city and county commissioners for approval in January.
For more information, log on to ConnectClarkCounty.org.
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