The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is asking the city of Whitehall to consider legislation supporting the Big Walnut balanced-growth plan.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is asking the city of Whitehall to consider legislation supporting the Big Walnut balanced-growth plan.

David Rutter, watershed coordinator for MORPC, presented the tenets of the plan during the Whitehall City Council's July 17 meeting.

MORPC representatives are expected to attend the July 24 meeting of council committees to discuss the plan.

Council members asked MORPC to attend the committee meeting because members were not familiar with the issue.

The Big Walnut balanced-growth plan is one of five similar plans for watersheds in central Ohio.

The Olentangy, Upper Scioto, Whetstone Creek, Walnut Creek and Big Walnut all have or are in the process of implementing a balanced-growth plan.

The Ohio Water Resources Council endorsed the Olentangy balanced-growth plan in February.

At least 75 percent of the population and zoning entities within the boundaries of a watershed are required to adopt legislation in support of a balanced-growth plan before the OWRC would endorse the plan, Rutter said.

After the OWRC endorses the plan, MORPC may apply for grants, financial assistance and other kinds of support for policies within the plan.

"The plans are voluntary and not regulatory," Rutter said.

More than 50 percent of zoning agencies within the boundaries of the Walnut Creek balanced-growth plan have supported the plan. Efforts for the other three plans, including Big Walnut, have begun.

Thirty-one cities, villages, townships or counties are within the boundaries of the Big Walnut balanced-growth plan, including Whitehall, Rutter said. Each regulatory city council, township, planning commission or zoning commission was involved in the process, Rutter said.

The plans were created after about a two-year process involving representatives from each entity, Rutter said.

"The purpose of a balanced-growth plan is to protect water quality and to realize that how we develop the plan affects the quality of water," Rutter said.

The plan established priorities for land use and includes the designations of "priority conservation," "priority development" and "priority agricultural."

Being in an urban setting, the "priority agricultural" category would not apply to urban settings such as Whitehall, but the city still has options to consider when determining what land is most sensitive and could be considered for "priority conservation," Rutter said.

Thus far, of the 31 entities within the Big Walnut balanced-growth plan, only Plain Township already has passed a resolution supporting it, but MORPC has only started to communicate the plan to area city councils and townships.

Whitehall councilman Wes Kantor said the plan would be discussed further during a committees meeting that was scheduled for July 24, after ThisWeek's press deadline.

To view the Big Walnut balanced-growth plan or any of the five balanced growth plans, on online to balancedgrowthplanning.morpc.org.