After years in process, a draft plan for the Hamilton Road corridor has been presented to the Gahanna Planning Commission.
Tony Slanec, OHM Advisors' director of planning and urban design, said the corridor plan has taken longer than any other plan he has worked on, with community engagement dating back to 2009.
Gahanna deputy development director Leah Evans said an internal change within the city delayed the process.
The planning-area boundary includes all properties that abut Hamilton Road, from Clark State Road on the north end to Tech Center Drive at the south end. Other properties that encompass the study area include parcels that were contiguous to properties adjacent to Hamilton Road that were determined by the city to be critically important to the redevelopment success of the corridor.
"The most important thing to understand is that it's a guide for future development," Slanec said. "This should help you understand the goals of what the community wants and the city vision. This is rooted in the vision of what we want the Hamilton corridor to look like in the future -- a desired plan to elevate economic development opportunities that are forthcoming."
Hamilton Road is a gateway to the community, Evans said. In 2012, she said, five projects were initiated in the corridor that had a total investment of about $8 million.
The contents of the approximately 50-page draft plan include key findings and existing conditions; corridor vision with goals and objectives for pedestrian and vehicular districts; and recommendations.
A steering committee, comprising residents and business owners within the study area, helped develop seven goals that helped shape the plan. The goals include that future development be of quality; economically diverse and competitive; preserve what is Gahanna; maintain and improve connections; promote choices; grow seamlessly (future development would promote the corridor as a center for commerce, culture and community while safeguarding the function and success of Gahanna and adjoining neighborhoods and civic spaces); and have a unique brand.
Slanec said the vision and branding for the corridor serve as a lure to attract development.
"Right now you have a code that doesn't outline the highest level of quality," he said.
Slanec said the city also doesn't want the quality so high that it would deter development.
"Dublin elevated (quality) so high that it detracted," he said. "We looked at pedestrian and vehicular patterns, split at Rocky Fork."
The two corridor districts were defined by the transportation network and surrounding land-use patterns. The pedestrian district is defined as Clark State Road to Rocky Fork Boulevard, and the vehicular district is Rocky Fork Boulevard to the Buckles Tract property.
Development recommendations for architecture in the pedestrian and vehicular districts encourage a diversity of styles to encourage visual interest and add to the overall appeal of the corridor. It aims for a timeless design and employs sustainable, traditional materials and design that have a proven longevity.
The draft plan also notes that franchise businesses along Hamilton currently occupy a large portion of commercial buildings, and many of the buildings don't conform to the design intent of the corridor or reflect the architectural character of Hamilton Road.
In an effort to establish the sense of place Gahanna strives to achieve, the plan states the need for future franchises to adapt prototypical designs to complement the community character.
The plan is intended to be used as public and private decisions are made concerning new developments, capital improvements, economic incentives and other matters affecting the corridor.
The commission was scheduled to discuss the draft corridor plan further during a workshop March 6.