Orange Township, partnering with graduate students from The Ohio State University’s Master’s of City and Regional Planning program, has completed the update to its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The last time the township updated the Comprehensive Land Use Plan was 2010.
In four meetings with township residents, students discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and how residents perceived the future of the township. The final meeting was held Dec. 5 with the students giving the final presentation.
“They presented their findings for people to review that evening,” said Planning and Zoning Director Michele Boni. “We got a lot of positive feedback.”
Boni said that almost 500 survey results were returned and overall the project was a success.
“We’re actually up for an award,” she said. “This plan was nominated for something through The Ohio State University which is exciting.”
Boni said the plan still needed to be approved by the zoning commission and trustees before being implemented. She said the plan shows the methods used and the results, which are broken down into eight chapters.
“This is an overall plan,” she said. “A high-level view of what we could do in the township.”
Boni said some people are afraid of growth because of traffic and the increased population. She also thought a lot of people understand it’s going to happen, but “it’s just about how we manage that growth.”
“Having a balanced community is totally essential,” she said. “We encouraged more economic development than we have in previous plans.”
Boni said the balance comes in encouraging and attracting businesses offering higher-paying jobs. She said U.S. 23 has plenty of available space that could be utilized by higher-paying employers.
“We did discuss the Big Walnut interchange and how it could be a potential commercial area,” she said. “South Old State was discussed. I’ve received a lot of inquiries since I’ve started here, but nothing has ever gone through nor have they applied.”
However, Boni said as Evans Farm progresses it could drive commercial development to the Big Walnut intersection. She said she sees Evans Farm as the experiment on mixed-use areas and a driver for other types of development.
Boni said the township is well connected when it comes to public utilities.
“Most of the township is on public water with a few still on septic, especially our farm properties,” she said. “Crossing U.S. 23 is the biggest concern we have and the cost associated with it.”
Boni said the plan includes affordable housing to attract more of the service-level workers. She said it’s tricky to put in a plan because people perceive affordable as low-income.
“We recommended diversity in housing,” she said. “With apartments we can still require them to be high quality with architectural standards that are aesthetically pleasing when you drive by them. We tried to implement some of those strategies into our housing element.”
Boni said directional signage strategies were added by the graduate students.
“A lot of people come into Orange Township and they don’t realize they’re in Orange Township,” she said. “The only thing they know is our pedestrian bridge, but there is much more to Orange Township than U.S. 23.”
Boni said the directional signage will provide a better sense of identity for the township. She said the downside of the signage is, it draws attention and some people don’t want it.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.