New Albany News

Plain Township

Trustees poised to update land-use plan this month

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The Plain Township trustees held a public hearing Nov. 7 to review the township's proposed land-use plan update.

The trustees plan to vote to adopt the land-use plan after receiving a recommendation on it from the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord Implementation Panel, which reviews zoning changes in portions of Columbus, New Albany and Plain Township. The panel is scheduled to meet Nov. 15.

The updated plan includes a new commercial corridor on the west side of U.S. Route 62 between Central College Road and Walnut Street and two other potential commercial areas at state Route 605 and Walnut Street and Hamilton and Central College roads.

Gary Smith, of G2 Planning and Design, said the two potential commercial areas are surrounded by land in other jurisdictions that already is zoned commercial. The land on Route 62 also is bordered by other commercial zoning.

Becky Burgess of Clouse Road said the last time the plan was updated, the township suggested commercial areas north of Walnut Street and south of Central College Road on Route 62. She asked what types of businesses would be recommended for development at those locations.

Smith said small offices that do not require much water usage could be developed in those locations.

He said retail is not recommended, adding that the township should incorporate a commercial overlay district for the commercial areas. An overlay district would help the township protect the rural character of the area by establishing setbacks from the road and from neighboring properties, minimum lot widths for development and limiting uses for the land.

Burgess asked how many businesses could be on 10 acres near Route 62, for example.

Township Administrator Ben Collins said the township can limit the scale of buildings and the type of businesses that can be developed. Also, any property owner wanting to change the properties from a residential zoning to a commercial zoning would have to go before the township's zoning commission and board of trustees.

Smith said the size and configuration of the property could limit the number of buildings built on one property, because of setbacks that would be included in an overlay district.

An overlay district would have to be adopted by the zoning commission and board of trustees and added to the zoning code.

On the other hand, the land-use plan includes recommendations suggested for future development, said Trustee Dave Olmstead.

Burgess suggested the township include area residents in developing the commercial overlay district, perhaps by forming a citizens committee to work with the zoning commission.

David Halsey, chairman of the zoning commission, said the committee could meet with the commission but committee members would not have a vote on approval of the overlay district.

The land-use plan update also includes recommended residential development in northern Plain Township that helps preserve natural features surrounding the Rocky Fork Creek Metro Park.

The Metro Park is being developed on nearly 600 acres north of Walnut Street between Schott and Bevelhymer roads.

Smith said instead of putting many driveways on roads surrounding the park, the township could encourage developers to install one road leading to all of the homes, preserving road frontage and open space, thus maintaining the rural character of the area.

The township is paying Smith $6,400 to update the land-use plan, which was originally developed in 2007.

Collins said the format is being changed so township employees can update it as zoning designations change.

In other business Nov. 7, the trustees adopted a new zoning map showing the most recent changes.

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