If the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission thought its Upper Scioto Watershed Balanced Growth Plan would sail through the Marysville City Council, it had another think coming.
MORPC representative Nancy Reger told council at its Feb. 28 meeting that the balanced growth proposal "is a voluntary, incentive-based plan ... designed to protect Ohio's watersheds" and to facilitate local and regional economic development.
The Upper Scioto Planning Partnership includes 29 communities and many watershed "stakeholders" that MORPC is asking to adhere to the plan in exchange for technical and administrative assistance. Communities might also qualify for federal, state and local grants on the basis of their participation in the plan, she said.
Councilman Dan Fogt pointed out to Reger what he said were several errors in MORPC's roughly 100-page report before complaining that neighboring Orange Township had already begun to fill in an Upper Scioto flood plain to the north of Marysville in Delaware County.
Reger said she was disappointed in the township's treatment of the flood plain.
"As I said before, participation in the plan is strictly voluntary and Orange Township in this instance has decided not to take part," she said. "The plan doesn't make a community do anything. There are no mandates, no dictates for land use."
Fogt said as far as he could tell, the only benefits to joining the two and a half dozen communities participating in the plan were monetary and speculative.
"We're not guaranteed to benefit monetarily and even if we were," he said, "I don't like being blackmailed."
Fogt said he was distrustful of the other communities that might participate in the plan.
"I have found in the past that what Columbus wants, Columbus gets," he said, "and what Mayor (Michael B.) Coleman wants, Coleman gets."
Councilwoman Deborah Grote echoed Fogt's distrust of MORPC's watershed growth plan.
"I think the government in the city of Marysville and several generations of Union County farmers have done a good job managing growth all by themselves," Grote said. "I haven't made up my mind about the plan but I don't see that it's necessary."
Grote said she's asked Reger several questions via email, the answers to which would determine her vote later in March.
"If those questions aren't answered to my satisfaction, there's not a chance I'd vote yes," she said.
The Upper Scioto Watershed encompasses more than 433 square miles and is a crucial source of drinking water for the 29 communities that MORPC is encouraging to the join the plan.
Several hundred thousand residents in western and southwestern Franklin County rely on the Dublin Road water treatment plant for potable drinking water; the city of Marysville relies on Mill Creek, also a part of the Upper Scioto Watershed, for its drinking water.