Prairie Township trustees approved an agreement Nov. 28 with Franklin County and the city of Columbus that will assist in the implementation of the Big Darby town center master plan.
"This would allow Columbus and the township in working out a strategy to recruit a master developer," township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said. "We want the project to be done as a whole, not in parts and assure stormwater measures are properly put in place."
One year ago, 10 jurisdictions that surround the Big Darby Creek and its tributaries adopted the Big Darby Town Center Plan. Such a collaboration of government entities was necessary to ensure responsible development within the Big Darby Creek watershed, local officials said.
The plan calls for the city of Columbus to provide water and sewer service to any new developed area within the plan area without annexing the property, Hatmaker said. It also sets aside land for conservation, thus providing plenty of green areas.
The proposed development site is located between I-70 to the north and Kuhlwein Road to the south. It calls for about 3,500 residential units along with 300,000 square feet reserved for businesses and a 100-room hotel.
The participation agreement approved by trustees calls for the township to pay half the cost, about $50,000, for hiring a consultant to help develop the town center. The city of Columbus would also pay $50,000 toward that cost for a total of $100,000, Hatmaker said.
The agreement also puts Prairie Township in a position to act as an agent responsible for entering into a contract with and overseeing the payments to the consultant. Both the township and the city agree to cooperate in developing a scope of work for the consultant contract and agree that any changes to the scope of work will require a consensus of both, the agreement said.
"We will become the leading partner in determining what will be built," Hatmaker said. "The process will take time."
Should the other government entities want to get involved in the agreement, it can be modified, Hatmaker said. Last year, Brown, Pleasant and Norwich townships all adopted the town center master plan.
The creation and development of the town center will take years, Hatmaker said, possibly as long as three decades to complete.