For AECOM principal Pete Sechler, the Lane Avenue study isn't just business, it's the opportunity to have an impact on the town where he grew up and still has family.

For AECOM principal Pete Sechler, the Lane Avenue study isn't just business, it's the opportunity to have an impact on the town where he grew up and still has family.

"This is a challenging assignment," Sechler said. "I appreciate the residents' frustration, and there are some very smart people on all sides of this working on this very difficult problem."

AECOM and Sechler began the study in May after city council voted to move forward to evaluate current and future traffic patterns, parking issues and development along the Lane Avenue corridor.

Sechler hosted a public forum June 21 at the municipal building, and 40 residents attended to provide their feedback to study findings. He also gave a presentation Thursday, June 23.

"What makes this a unique situation is that we have low-density suburban housing next to a corridor that we're trying to urbanize with virtually no buffer, and both the commercial and the residential are very successful," Sechler said. "Most times on a project like this, one of these areas is distressed, so packaging the land purchases are not cost- or socially prohibitive to create that buffer in between."

The approach for the Lane Avenue study began by reviewing the city's 2001 Master Plan, according to Sechler. After looking at what that vision was, and determining which assumptions were correct or incorrect based on today's reality, a judgment will be made on what actions should be taken to implement the resulting vision.

"Ten years ago, the assumption was the Lane Avenue Shopping Center would be torn down and redeveloped differently, including a parking structure," Sechler said. "But that never happened. Market forces are now driving development on the north side of the street instead."

Sechler said that ultimately the success of the Wine Bistro and Arlington Commons brought to light a land use problem that has been just under the surface since the Master Plan was developed, due to the lack of a parking structure. At the public forum, he highlighted what AECOM believes are the key issues to allow both the residential and the commercial to be successful and coexist:

Three cars per 1,000 square feet of development is inadequate without an additional shared parking solution.

The 48-foot maximum height isn't tall enough for a four story building based on how the plan is written.

The floor area ratio, as written, requires a parking structure for even the most basic of buildings.

A 10-foot buffer between residential property lines and the hardscape of a redevelopment is not enough for these successful businesses.

One-acre minimum lot size forces developers to bundle together lots, which is good, but cost-prohibitive.

City economic development director Matt Shad said that the one-acre lot assemblies on Lane Avenue are costing developers $1 million and up, but that the standard office development in central Ohio builds on land purchased for $250,000.

According to Shad, the current market for the land on Lane Avenue is retail and restaurants, based on the real estate and parking factors.

"We've talked in small sessions with over 75 people, commercial owners and residents, including people from every one of the side streets, and we've had these public forums," Sechler said. "I think the city at large wants these kinds of amenities. There is also an economic reality that the city cannot afford to just let commercial property go fallow."

AECOM is scheduled to review the study results and feedback from the June 21 and 23 public meetings during the next month before bringing its plan to the city later in the summer.

"We don't have a magic bullet, but there is a series of strategies and policies which are sensitive to the needs and issues of neighbors, both residential and commercial," Sechler said. "I think these are all good problems to have. Upper Arlington is a community of choice and these problems are indicative of that. The city is responding to internal and external pressures right now.

"When I was growing up here, the outside pressures were very different. Hilliard was still all farmland and something like the Grandview Yard wasn't even conceivable."