New Albany News

Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord

Advisory panel questions parts of strategic plan update

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Members of the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord Implementation Panel said Feb. 6 they are wary of a few components in New Albany's strategic plan draft.

City officials began updating the plan in 2013. When the update is completed, the strategic plan will be a reference tool to help guide development, said Chris Hermann of MKSK, the Columbus planning firm hired to consult on the plan.

Panel member Mike Chappelear asked about proposed office space south of state Route 161 on Babbitt Road, near a rural residential area of Plain Township.

Chappelear said designating office uses north of Route 161, closer to the city's business campus, might make more sense.

Adrienne Joly, New Albany's deputy community development director, said the plan does not affect current zoning and doesn't change the land use.

Joly said someone would have to purchase property in that area, annex it into the city and then present a plan for development. New Albany staff members then would evaluate the development based on the accord guidelines and the city's strategic plan as the development goes through the zoning approval process, she said.

City officials and planners decided it might be more beneficial to have office space on part of Babbitt Road rather than higher-density residential development because robust business parks are good for the city, Joly said.

Chappelear said even if the office space is presented as a guideline for future development, residents might not appreciate seeing plans for an office that would overshadow their homes.

New Albany Mayor Nancy Ferguson and Morgan Road resident Bill Resch spoke against a proposed road connection in the plan that would link Swickard Woods Boulevard south of state Route 161 to the Windsor subdivision.

Ferguson, who said she was speaking as a resident, said the road would pass through Swickard Woods, which is owned by the city and contains a deed restriction preventing streets or development.

Resch agreed and said the road would pass through an area used by many children and families, including students in the New Albany-Plain Local School District and visitors to New Albany Safety Town, the Plain Township Aquatic Center and local parks.

Panel member Meera Parthasarathy said, as a New Albany-Plain Local parent, she also does not like the proposed road connection.

However, panel member Rich Kight said the road connection is outside the accord boundaries and therefore is out of the panel's consideration.

"If we were to take some sort of action tonight, it would be limited to the area of the strategic plan that lies within the accord boundaries," Kight said.

Panel co-chairman Gary Schmidt suggesting tabling the plan until the next accord panel meeting Feb. 20 and the members present agreed.

Joly said the city typically requests a recommendation from the accord panel on plans before moving forward.

The panel was established by New Albany, Plain Township and Columbus to review zoning and development requests in portions of the three jurisdictions and to make nonbinding recommendations according to the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord's guidelines.

Joly said after the accord panel provides a recommendation on the plan, it will be reviewed by the New Albany Planning Commission for a recommendation before going to New Albany City Council for approval.

New Albany's strategic plan was adopted in 1998 and last updated in 2006. It has an addendum from 2008 that includes the research-and-information district in the Central College business campus.

The city budgeted $150,000 for the current update, which is being completed by city officials, planners from MKSK, engineers from E.P. Ferris and Associates and a group of community members.

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