- By Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Higher-paying manufacturing jobs, curbing the opioid epidemic and more activities for young people are all ways Clark County can improve in the future, residents said as part of several long-term planning meetings held this week.
Connect Clark County — a local group working to update the county’s land use plan for the first time in 18 years — held four meetings this week to allow residents to share their vision for future growth and development in the county.
The Crossroads Comprehensive Plan — a long-term strategic vision used by the city and county as a road map for future transportation, housing and economic development projects — was last updated in 1999. Columbus-based consulting firm Planning NEXT was hired to perform the $214,000 study earlier this year.
Four meetings were held in Enon, Springfield and South Vienna this week, allowing residents to answer the broad question: “Clark County will be a better place if…?” Many of the ideas including more higher-paying jobs, solving the drug epidemic and agencies working together instead of against each other.
The groups also pin-pointed areas on the map that can be preserved or developed, such as the Upper Valley Mall, the eastern edge shopping corridor and local industrial parks. Other locations included cleaning up the Tremont City Barrel Fill and the old Ford dealership on Urbana Road.
South Vienna resident Don Hixon came to the meeting on Thursday because he wanted to contribute to the growth of the city and county, he said. With a young family, Hixon wants to see more venues for parents to take children in the future.
“It’s nice to have something during nasty weather to take them to and we don’t have them, so you have to drive,” Hixon said.
The family typically drives to the Boonshoft Museum or the play area at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek, Hixon said. Before the Boonshoft Museum left its Springfield location at the Upper Valley Mall last year, it was their go-to spot in the winter, he said.
“We need something (like that),” Hixon said.
Hixon also wants to see the city and county encourage small businesses to stay here, he said.
PRIOR COVERAGE: Commissioners discuss land use plan update
The meeting gave the public a chance to feel like they have some say in what’s happening locally, Springfield Twp. resident Merrelyn Powers said on Thursday.
“It was a golden opportunity,” she said.
Clark County has many environmental issues, many of which were broadly discussed at the meeting, Merrelyn Powers said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in this area, it just needs to be tapped into,” said Steve Powers, Merrelyn’s husband. “I think it’ll happen, it’s just going to take time.”
At the four meetings, there were a lot of repetitive themes, Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Transportation Planner Cory Lynn Golden said, but also some ideas unique to each area. In South Vienna, residents wanted to see farmland preservation and more manufacturing jobs. The meetings in Springfield saw more ideas about activities for young people and families, as well as re-invigorating downtown, she said.
After compiling the data from this week’s meetings, the steering committee will hold more meetings this summer to ask the community for feedback on more specific recommendations, including goals and objectives, Golden said.
“We hope to double our participation,” she said.
The previous plan included several outdated projects, Golden said. In 1999, the county’s population was projected to be about 245,000 in 2040. The TCC is currently working off a new plan with a projected 140,000 people.
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.
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 used every day,” Clark County Community and Economic Development Senior Planner Allan Neimayer said.
The study is expected to be completed and sent to city and county commissioners for approval in December.
For more information, log on to ConnectClarkCounty.org.
FIVE NEWS-SUN MUST READ STORIES