GALENA — Harlem Township residents rated their township an 8 out of 10 in a recent survey.
When asked why they chose to live in this southeastern corner of Delaware County, Harlem residents liked the rural feel, affordability, acreage, independence, and ability to raise a family. They like the quiet, agricultural nature of the township, the quality of its fire services, and its nearness to larger communities.
The top dislikes were the loss of open space, the possibility of annexation, flooding, no sewer services, and traffic/road safety.
Residents liked the utilities and services they are provided, and they gave Harlem Township an 8.5 for being a safe community. Road quality was given a 7.5, but a tax increase for road maintenance only received a 4.5.
Questions about natural and cultural resources ranked 8.5 or higher. While people liked the township’s park and said open spaces are important, support for a parks ballot issue rated at 6.5.
While residents liked the township’s housing stock, there was little support for new housing developments.
Harlem’s economy was given a rating of 7. Many did not want to see commercial development such as retail and restaurants in the township. Commercial uses that received approval were landscape/construction, medical and recreation. In terms of development, controlling annexation and more restrictive zoning in certain parts of the township received strong support, as well as acquiring buffer property along the borders of Franklin and Licking counties.
The survey was part of the township’s updated Comprehensive Plan. The Harlem Township Zoning Commission has had monthly workshops over eight months to hammer out a Master Plan. The commission was assisted by Jonathan Miller, planner for the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission. The DCRPC sent out 1,800 surveys. Harlem residents generally have Galena and Westerville addresses.
Harlem Township’s last Comprehensive Plan was in 2008. Miller said the plan should be updated every five to 10 years to create and establish “a unified 30-year vision for a community … the plan needs to create a balance in land use.” While it wasn’t a legal document, it did provide a direction for township officials to follow. The plan “helps protect the community. It keeps out unwanted development and brings in wanted development.”
In the meeting minutes, Trustee Dave Jackson said, “Development is coming to the township, and we cannot stop it. We can however, determine what type of development we want.”
Among the concerns expressed was type 2 annexation into New Albany. However, Miller said commercial development on the south end of the township would be an incentive to prevent annexation. It was generally agreed there needed to be a balance of commercial and residential. It was felt that development could not be stopped until the Comprehensive Plan was completed.
In other zoning matters, Mike Kabler was named chair once again. Joni Manson is vice chair. Also on the commission is Alan Czako, Robin Lobenstein and Tom Nied. Virginia Lewis has replaced Bill Needham as alternate. The Steering Committee is Michael Bodak, Steve Farina, Don Grevenow, Raelene Meadows, Valerie Pederson, Melissa Simpson and Jim Wheeler. Also, Valerie Hamill had been hired by the township as the new administrative assistant.
This year, the Zoning Commission has approved rezoning 15 acres on Fancher Road from Agricultural Residential to Single Family Residential on behalf of Stella Garrabrant Trust. The commission discussed a revision to a current Planned Commercial District on Fancher Road with JBeckner Construction LLC. There was also talk of rezoning Curtain Players on Harlem Road to a Planned Commercial District so it could expand the dressing room.
It was determined that a Motor Enclave with a Car Condo and Performance Track will now be built in New Albany. It had been rumored to be on Harlem Road.
The commission also approved rezoning 5.3 acres on Bevelheimer Road in Westerville from Agricultural Residential to Single Family Residential for Delaware-based Starfall LLC.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.