Strategic planning open house slated Sept. 11
New Albany officials have invited residents to learn about the city's strategic plan update at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at New Albany Village Hall.
Kathryn Meyer, the city's deputy community development director, said residents are invited to view information before listening to a short presentation and breaking into groups to offer feedback on the plan's components.
"We've been hearing from the community what makes New Albany special or unique to them," Meyer said. "It's a sense of community or a sense of place. People really know when you're in New Albany and that impresses them."
City spokesman Scott McAfee said the sense of place can be an emotional tie for residents who appreciate the way New Albany has developed through proper planning.
The strategic plan is a comprehensive plan that maps out ways the city can develop in the future. Meyer said it was last updated in 2006, with an addendum in 2008 to add the research-and-information business park.
City officials and planners from MKSK, a planning and design firm with offices in Columbus, Kentucky and Indiana, and E.P. Ferris and Associates, the city's engineering firm, have been meeting with 30 community members since July.
The committee includes residents; local business owners; school district officials; community groups such as the New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society, the New Albany Community Foundation, the New Albany Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of the Blacklick Creek; local churches; and city planning groups, such as the park and trail advisory board, planning commission and board of zoning appeals.
They have talked about everything from the city's transportation system to its open spaces and architectural style. During their most recent meeting Aug. 29, Chris Hermann, a planner with MKSK, said the group made the following suggestions:
* To connect parks and trails with public open spaces and expand the leisure trail system within the community and to neighboring communities, while finding ways to create meeting spaces in natural areas throughout the trail system.
* To continue connecting roads to prevent further widening of main roads, thereby maintaining the rural character of the area.
* To improve community gateways and identifying city entrances and entrances to business parks.
* To expand the business parks.
* To improve the village center, making it a "destination."
* To encourage proper architecture, also diversifying the architecture and housing availability for more simple lifestyles and aging residents.
* To use new stormwater retention solutions that also improve area aesthetics.
* To consider the impact of development in Licking County, which has different school districts, and can create a disjointed community feel.
Hermann said the next step is to address the following issues:
* To ingrain the idea of good planning throughout the community, even in residents.
* To keep plan ideals in place during leadership changes.
* To address different and varied housing needs.
* To determine proper location for retail associated with business campuses, while protecting retail interests in the village center.
* To fund the local school district.
* To determine how large the city should expand.
* To address development on the city's borders.
Committee members Aug. 29 said growth is a major factor in how the city develops in the future. Many members also said they are concerned about developments bordering New Albany and how that could affect the city.
Neil Kirby, a member of the planning commission, said the only way to prevent adjacent development is to purchase land on the city borders and annex it into the city to protect the land with proper zoning classifications.
Talk of expansion in the business parks prompted Kim Comisar, a member of the architectural review board, to request information on tax breakdowns. She asked how new development would affect the schools and residents' taxes.
Hermann said property taxes go to the school district and income taxes go to the city. Ken Stark, New Albany-Plain Local's director of operations, said the city also shares some income taxes with the school district when companies receive tax abatements and are not required to pay all of the property taxes due.
Hermann recommended holding a workshop on tax bills and distribution for the strategic planning committee.
Committee members are expected to attend the Sept. 6 open house to answer questions and hear comments from residents.