The following words were written last summer, but they may as well have been written today:
“It is truly amazing to drive down Lewis Center Road and see the incredible progress being made at Evans Farm.”
This was written by Delaware County Finance Authority Chairman Bill Bishop for an article called “Smart Growth in Delaware County” that appeared in the development’s newsletter. Bishop called Evans Farm “an excellent example of Smart Growth. A cohesive plan was laid out and followed. Thus, we’re creating a great community with housing and amenities that support our local values and needs.”
For those who may not travel along Lewis Center Road, Evans Farm is a 1,000-acre mixed-use development in both Berlin and Orange townships. Its website said, “Evans Farm is Ohio’s only community designed around the principles of new urbanism, where shops, restaurants, parks, residential houses, and more are all within walking or biking distance of each other — so you can spend less time in rush hour and more time at happy hour.”
“To me, it’s a continual reminder of how we can do things right in Delaware County,” Bishop wrote, “a shining star of how to blend a community with homes, apartments, commercial ventures, and recreation.”
Smart Growth was then defined by Bishop as projects that enrich residents’ quality of life while also preserving schools and communities. Public input was key, he said.
“We want to control the growth,” he wrote. “If we don’t control the growth, the growth will control us. Smart Growth is our policy of taking proactive steps to encourage the right type of development that will provide financially for the needs of the residents and schools, while creating an environment that meets the needs of our communities. … Why is Smart Growth supremely important? Because in most cases, you only get one bite at the apple. It’s imperative that we get it right for the future of our county.”
Bishop pointed to two other nearby examples of Smart Growth. First is the Route 23 Corridor overlay, which designates potential permitted residential, commercial and light industrial development in advance.
“In my opinion, there will come a day when the Route 23 Corridor will be developed and compared to Bridge Park in Dublin,” Bishop said.
The second example of Smart Growth is the Berlin Business Park along U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 east of the Delaware city limits to I-71 in Berlin Township.
“This 1,800-acre business park is going to be Central Ohio’s premier business corridor,” Bishop said. “The Berlin Business Park is a mixture of various businesses that will include light industrial, distribution, medical and business offices, and retail. Again, the business park has been zoned for the types of businesses we want to see along that corridor. This development will bring tax dollars to the Olentangy Local School District without adding additional roof tops and more students to the system. Bringing commercial development is critical to reducing the tax burden on our families.”
The county’s continued population growth will necessitate Smart Growth.
“We know the growth is going to continue in Delaware County and we can’t stop it,” Bishop concluded. “But what we can do is influence the growth with Smart Growth initiatives that help us preserve our community’s values, like what has been done at Evans Farm.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.