Etna Township residents will have many opportunities to weigh in on the comprehensive plan before the entire document is approved.

Etna Township residents will have many opportunities to weigh in on the comprehensive plan before the entire document is approved.

Trustees on April 20 voted 2-1 to hold public hearings on separate sections of the plan likely the state Route 310 corridor, followed by the east and west sections of the township's remainder before approving the entire plan. Trustees John Carlisle and Randy Foor voted for holding separate public hearings for several sections, but trustee Jeff Johnson dissented, preferring instead to hold one major public meeting when the entire document is ready for trustees' review in three to four months.

"The 310 corridor is the foundation of the comprehensive plan," Foor said. "If we can't come to agreement on this, then there's no point in going forward."

The comprehensive-plan committee recently presented its zoning recommendations for only the Route 310 corridor roughly the section of Route 310 south of Pataskala to slightly south of I-70 to the trustees as the committee continues to work on the rest of the township.

Carlisle said he favors beginning the process of adopting the corridor plan individually as soon as possible, including holding a public hearing, instead of waiting to adopt the entire plan at once.

Johnson disagreed.

"We're pretty close on the whole thing," he said.

Township zoning administrator Chris Harkness estimated the entire proposed plan would be ready for the trustees in three to four months. He said Licking County planner Ryan Edwards, who is helping the committee, has most of the plan's remaining work.

"Why do everything twice?" Johnson asked.

"We could use the public input right now," Carlisle said. "I'd rather hold it in separate hearings."

The township would not approve each section twice, Carlisle said, adding that he expects many residents to comment on the Route 310 corridor before the plan is approved. He said he worries that eastern and western Etna Township residents wouldn't attend a public hearing if they suspect they would have to sit through hours of corridor discussion before being able to comment on their own neighborhoods.

"There are more sticking points on 310 than anywhere else," Foor said. "Once we get this agreed upon, the rest will fall into place."

The dates and times of the separate hearings have yet to be announced.

Carlisle told ThisWeek each political body reviewing the comprehensive plan would hold its own public hearing. The Licking County Planning Commission, the Licking County commissioners, the Etna Township trustees, the Etna Township Zoning Commission and the Etna Township comprehensive-plan committee will have all held public hearings before a complete comprehensive plan is approved, he said. Carlisle said even if public hearings for two or more sections of the comprehensive plan are held on the same night, specific time slots likely would be devoted to each section so residents wouldn't be forced to sit through comments about areas that don't interest them.

Edwards has said there's a renewed interest in a Route 310 corridor plan that Columbus-based design firm MSI initially had developed in 2007. That plan was never adopted. The trustees asked the comprehensive-plan committee to "fine-tune" the plan based on a 2008 community survey and continuing public input.

Edwards said many residents were concerned that the plan and recent changes called for too much commercial development.

Former trustee Gary Burkholder weighed in on the comprehensive-plan committee's draft.

"The Etna committee document is intentionally vague in order to give developers as much latitude as possible regarding development on the corridor," he told ThisWeek.

Burkholder said the committee's plan contains "serious errors" and adopting it would be a "gross injustice to Etna taxpayers."

The next trustees meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, at the Etna Township Hall.