ThisWeek Community Newspapers Hilliard
April 13, 2011
BIG DARBY TOWN CENTER PLAN Continued from page A1 the Hilliard City School District board of education, asked why the Hilliard and South-Western school districts were not included in the planning process. He said he is worried that the proposed residential development in the area will become a burden to both districts, as they will have to rely more and more on property taxes. “My concern is that there has been no thought in regard to the school districts,” Lambert said. “We will be relying on most of our funding now through residential property taxes.” The impact of new development on schools could be great, he said. Maggie Connor, of Urban Design Associates, said the question of the financial impact of development on the school district is a tough one to answer. She said that most of the new housing in the Hilliard school district would occur in the northern portion of the development, which means less impact for Hilliard schools. “This is a relevant point,” Connor said. “However, the residential will be light within the Hilliard school district with big lots. It is our hope that the commercial development will offset any residential development.” Hilliard City Schools District spokeswoman Amanda Morris said Lambert was speaking as an individual resident, which he is welcome to do, “but I don’t believe he was speaking on behalf of the district or the board.” Morris said school districts have no control over how areas are developed, but that commercial and residential development does have an impact on a district economically. “Commercial development provides a tax base without providing students, so there’s definitely a more positive economic impact,” Morris said. “Residential development provides more students, and the taxes from those homes generally are not enough to educate a student, although we’re excited people want to move here.” The purpose of the April 5 meeting was to gather public input before the four jurisdictions involved with the development plan vote on it. Those jurisdictions are Prairie and Brown townships, Franklin County and the city of Columbus. Connor said the Big Darby Town Center Master Plan is an extension of the work done on the Big Darby Accord. It is a plan that sets standards in place before development occurs in order to protect the highly sensitive Big Darby Creek environment. “Currently damage is being done from existing farm land that is degrading the stream,” Conner said. “Unchecked development has negative impacts, not only to the Big Darby but socially and economically as well. We see this as an opportunity to draw economic activity to the area.” Most of the higher density development will occur in Prairie Township, Connor said. There will be a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and mixed use in a main street configuration, she said. “We have set criteria for the type of development,” Connor said. “You have the opportunity to respond to the market at the time.” The timeline for the potential development is anticipated between 2015 and 2030. Before that happens, Connor said, several things will have to take place. The plan must first be approved by the four jurisdictions involved, she said. Next, it is expected to take at least two years for a process called landowner outreach. A Community Improvement Corporation would be formed in order to negotiate with landowners to agree to the town center plan. Once 1,000 acres are committed
to the plan, a second community authority will be created for the purpose of realizing the plan, Connor said. That organization would then solicit for a master developer. “Implementation is complicated,” Connor said “It is a strategy and will take a few years to get off the ground.” Challenges to implementation include getting sewer and water to the development. The Big Darby Accord allows the development to tie into Columbus water and sewer without annexation of land, she said. In order to bring sewer and water to the site, an 11,000-foot extension to the existing waterline will be needed. Cost of getting water is estimated at $13.7 million, she said. “Water and sewer has to be invested in first before development can occur,” Connor said. “How do we fund this?”
The city and the county are discussing funding options that include grant opportunities, contributions from developers and a sewer charge. Another challenge is multiple owners who may or may not want anything to do with the town center plan. James Schimmer, of the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, said the plan presented that evening is not a fixed thing. It has to be malleable and have the ability to change as the economic climate changes. “Please continue to work with us as we evolve this plan,” Schimmer said. “This isn’t about us but future generations. It is really important to understand that this process does not end here tonight.” The plan is posted, along with a survey, on the Franklin County web page, www.franklincountyohio.gov/bigdarbyaccord.
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Published on Apr 15, 2011