Strategic planning continues in Harlem Twp.


GALENA — In recent trustee meetings, some residents of Harlem Township said they wanted a committee to plan for the future of their community. However, township officials already have one in the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC).

After Intel announced its $20 billion investment in microchip fabrication plants in Jersey Township in January 2022, the trustees appointed the Strategic Planning Committee to serve as an advisory body that March. They also hired a consulting firm, Crossroads Community Planning, LLC. The SPC held a large community meeting in August 2o22 and has been meeting twice monthly.

For those minimizing the impact of Intel on Harlem, the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission said at its meeting last April that Columbus is already “knocking on the door.” They are one property away from being in the township. There was agreement that these are defensive measures to protect Harlem in total. It was said that annexations are driven by utilities and zoning. The utilities are going to be there, so the only defense mechanism against annexation is zoning now.

For those seeking more transparency from the township, all of the SPC meetings have had minutes or video available at In addition, The Gazette has written several articles about past SPC meetings, and here’s a continuation of them from July through the remainder of 2023:

On July 18, 2023, “Caleb Bell, partner and Public Finance Group Chair with the law firm of Bricker Graydon spoke to us about Ohio economic development tools such as JEDDs, TIFs, NCAs, and PACEs to help pay for the cost of infrastructure required by increased population,” said Holly Mattei of Crossroads. “He suggested that JobsOhio, One Columbus and the Delaware County Office of Economic Development are our best resources for economic development in the township.”

At a special meeting on July 25, “Beth Lear, the Representative for District 61 in the Ohio House, attended the meeting, introduced herself and offered her support for the work of the committee.” In addition, the group was looking at a Trenton Road Overlay District.

The SPC next met on Aug. 1. A resident “questioned whether the township should be actively promoting development or trying to keep it at arm’s length,” meeting minutes said. “The group discussed whether to focus efforts on economic development in the areas in the township identified for commercial and industrial uses or to focus on putting together additional overlay districts along the northern boundary of the township and in the Center Village area.”

They opted to focus on both. Subsequently, at the Aug. 15 meeting, Crossroads Community Planning discussed economic development strategies in the township’s mixed-use overlay district, as well as an economic development page on the Harlem website.

In other reports at that meeting, it was said that “a mini-batch plant is in operation on the Dalicandro property on the southeast corner of the township in order to supply ready-mix concrete to the natural gas pipeline project along County Line Road.” In addition, “ODOT had appropriated $11 million to accelerate the roundabout improvements on South County Line Road at Fancher Road and at Duncan Plains Road.”

To that end, Trustee Carl Richison said at the Sept. 5 meeting, “We need to focus more of our attention on proposed development of roadways in the township.”

“The entire (Sept. 19) meeting consisted of a presentation followed by a Q&A with Dale Arnold, director of energy, utility and local government policy with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation on the subject of what to expect from the siting of two new AEP high voltage power lines that have been proposed in the township.” minutes said.

The Oct. 3 SPC meeting included representatives from the City of Columbus Division of Sewerage and Drainage providing an update on the Big Walnut Sanitary Sewer Trunk extension phase two. Two weeks later on Oct. 17, the meeting noted the trustees had approved the County Line Road Overlay District.

There was no meeting Nov. 7 due to Election Day, so the final SPC meeting of 2023 was on Dec. 5. The committee “discussed the boundaries for a final set of overlay districts in line with the maps drawn for the (Harlem) Comprehensive Plan.” There was also a “summary of acreage in the township that has recently changed hands.”

The SPC consists of Director of Zoning and Development Mike Cannon; Harlem residents Steve Eisenbrown, Bruce McClary and Molly Snodgrass; Trustee Carl Richison; and Board of Zoning Appeals member Jim Steelesmith. Crossroads representatives include Mattei, Molly Ridge and Benjamin Harder.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak photographs and reports on stories in eastern Delaware County and surrounding areas.

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