The Gahanna Department of Planning and Development held a community meeting May 22 to answer questions and hear comments about the city's proposed fiscal-impact analysis and economic-development plan."

The Gahanna Department of Planning and Development held a community meeting May 22 to answer questions and hear comments about the city's proposed fiscal-impact analysis and economic-development plan."

Gahanna City Council recently heard the results of the $153,000 plan designed to chart the city's financial future and set the course for development.

Development director Sadicka White said the city in 2006 commissioned a fiscal-impact analysis and economic-development plan. The plan was recommended in 2002, when the city adopted an update to its land-use plan.

Over the past 25 years, Gahanna nearly has built out to its incorporated limits at a faster rate than predicted in the 1997 comprehensive land-use plan update, White said.

She said one area Gahanna city leaders specifically tried to address was the "heartland" because of the pressure for development on Hamilton Road.

The heartland area is bound by Hamilton Road on the east, U.S. Route 62 on the west and Olde Gahanna. The idea was to protect and preserve the residential character of the heartland, stave off pressure for commercial development and require specific standards, White said.

White said there has been some confusion about maintaining residential character, which could be single-family or multi-family housing or condominiums.

White said the economic-development plan states what it would cost to provide services, including police and parks and recreation. Council could look at the cost of providing goods and services and whether a development would have a negative or positive impact, but that does not mean those are the only standards by which a development would be judged, White said.

Only one criterion would be used to judge development.

The development plan includes development scenarios that could have a better economic effect than other scenarios, White said.

Gahanna resident Gene Brugger said he has studied impact-risk analysis a lot. He said he was concerned particularly about a portion of the development plan that suggests the Heartland should be 60 percent office, 14-percent retail and 26-percent residential.

"That is such a dramatic change from the existing environment," he said. "The way you read the wording in the ordinance, it sounds like we are adopting a development plan."

Brugger suggested the economic-development plan be called an impact-risk analysis. He said council in five years could pick up the economic-development plan and think it defines a specific path for the city.

Council member David Samuel said that when thinking about an economic-development plan, he put emphasis on the word, plan. But the plan actually shows all of the different options. He said council could adopt "economic-development options."

Council member Tom Kneeland said the economic-development plan describes scenarios, options or suggested methods to development, based on inventory assessment.

Council member Nancy McGregor asked why the plan addresses specific areas if the plan is only a tool to guide development. She said the plan could be more generic in nature.

White said the plan is supposed to be realistic, based on the market and specific property.

Council member Beryl Anderson also expressed concerns about the economic-development plan and said "plan" seems binding. Anderson said the city could use "scenario" or "option" so it doesn't seem so concrete.

"I think that the name is key," Anderson said.

Gahanna resident Tom Liszkay said past city leaders had purchased property in Gahanna to maintain the scenic waterways -- free of development. He said he was concerned about plans to develop those areas.

White said the consultant identified areas throughout the city that had development potential, and those areas were included.

Resident Buzz Foresi thanked council members for hosting the community meeting.

"You did your best to notify residents what this is about and what it means," he said.

He said he liked the idea of mixed-use development and strengthening neighborhoods by offering a connection. He said he appreciates Creekside's urban feel. In some areas, he said, he could see more mixed-used, less-suburban development.