It's all but official.
Members of the Northland Community Council, gathered for their annual holiday meeting last week, unanimously endorsed an update to a plan intended to guide development and redevelopment within the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood.
The revised document was scheduled to be taken up by members of the Columbus Development Commission Dec. 12, following the 6 o'clock zoning agenda in the I-71 North Complex, 757 Carolyn Ave.
The Northland Area I Plan update will eventually go before Columbus City Council. If approved at that level, it becomes official city policy, Christine Palmer, lead planner in the year-long project, told NCC members prior to the vote.
"It's definitely been well-vetted," NCC President Emmanuel V. Remy said.
While the territory covered by the community council has expanded greatly over the years, Northland Area I Plan encompasses the 17.7 square miles bounded on the north and east by Interstate 270, on the south by Cooke, Ferris and Morse roads on the south and on the west by the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Huntley Road.
The population in that area, 85 percent of which is within Columbus, was 87,457, according to the 2010 census.
Key recommendations in the document, according to Palmer, included community mixed-use designations of multifamily, office, retail and institutional zoning along Morse Road between Karl Road and Northtowne Boulevard as well as near the intersection of East Dublin-Granville Road and Cleveland Avenue. The apartment density would be no more than 16 to 22 units an acre in the mixed-use areas, she indicated.
"I think this plan is a great step in the march to get this area back to where we want it to be," NCC Secretary Brandon L. Boos said.
Not included as official parts of the updated plan, but among recommendations for possible future action, Palmer and Remy noted, are the possibility of adding a commercial overlay along East Dublin-Granville Road similar to the one that exists for Morse Road, and a study of removing the system of access roads that currently parallel large sections of state Route 161.
"I think in the future we'll see some development that will take those away," Remy said.
Dave Paul, chairman of the Northland Community Council's development committee, said later in the week that the updated document, once formally adopted, will be a useful tool for the members of his panel in handling requests for variances in the area the plan covers.
"I think it will be a more useful tool and something we will point to as we did 10 years ago ... to say to the developer this isn't part of the plan," Paul said. "I think we'll have a more credible tool moving forward for the next five or eight years, and then we'll be back in the same boat again.
"It's a much clearer document now and requires a lot less interpretation and institutional memory."
Full details of the working draft of the updated plan are available for review at www.tinyurl.com/northlandplan.