LEWIS CENTER — Orange Township has agreed to partner with the Delaware County Finance Authority to assist with developing the township’s portion of the U.S. Route 23 corridor.
The DCFA was created by the Delaware County Board of Commissioners to help with economic development and job creation. As part of the one-year agreement, Orange Township will pay DCFA $50,000 for consulting and zoning assistance.
“We are only going to get one bite at the apple, one chance to get this right, so it’s critical that the finance authority make its collective expertise available to Orange Township,” said DCFA Chairman Bill Bishop in a statement. “We are going to see the continued transformation of the Route 23 corridor. By working together, we can gather input from the community and control development to Delaware County’s standards.”
“Orange Township is at a critical stage in the development of the Route 23 corridor,”said Ryan Rivers, chairman of the Orange Township Board of Trustees. “Essentially, we’re looking for help from the experts. We want to make Route 23 in Orange Township a destination with smart growth. The finance authority has the brain-trust capable of making this development a smooth process.”
“We need jobs for people who live here, so they can work here,” added Attorney Steve Cuckler, who spoke about a recently-produced “Route 23 Corridor Strategic Guide” at the Orange Township trustees meeting Tuesday. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
The U.S. Route 23 study was produced by Delaware Now, a fund of the Delaware County Foundation.
The 52-page corridor guide study looks at U.S. Route 23 from south of the Delaware city limits to the Delaware County/Franklin County line. It states the corridor is often overlooked by major employers looking to relocate or expand, even though there are 12,000 acres available to develop.
The corridor study suggested plans for developing the Northpointe, Orange Point and Cheshire sections of U.S. Route 23 using a zoning overlay district and other strategies for shovel-ready sites. Projects in New Albany and Dublin were seen as examples to emulate. To be avoided was letting things develop without any plans.
There were also three road projects highlighted — an east-west connector and third county interchange at Big Walnut/I-71; a northeast bypass and/or new Sunbury Parkway; and north-south improvements such as extending Glenn Parkway, Piatt and North roads.
According to the corridor guide, June 6 is suggested as a deadline for some of the study’s initial action steps.
Trustee Debbie Taranto said she wasn’t opposed to the plan, but had some concerns over ambiguity and wanted township counsel to look it over first.
“This is step one in my opinion,” added Trustee Ben Grumbles.
“This is overdue,” Rivers said. “I’m ready to move forward.”
“I think this is a great partnership,” added Orange Township Planning and Zoning Director Michele Boni. “It provides consistency.”
This isn’t the first time the county has looked at future growth. In October 2019, Rivers introduced a panel of local experts for a “Dialogue on Development” and zoning in an event sponsored by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, DCFA and Delaware County Township Association. Rivers is also president of the latter organization.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.