A regional plan to regulate growth along the Olentangy River has gained the support of Worthington City Council, within limits.

A regional plan to regulate growth along the Olentangy River has gained the support of Worthington City Council, within limits.

Council approved a resolution of support for the growth plan at its Feb. 21 meeting, but only after rewriting the resolution to reflect the concerns of several Worthington residents.

The growth plan was spearheaded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), which two years ago formed a committee to study the land along the river and make recommendations to protect the Olentangy Watershed's "long-term economic competitiveness, ecological health, and quality of life," according to a MORPC summary.

Twenty-seven communities were included in the study, and were asked to pass resolutions in support. Seventy-five percent needed to approve before MORPC could present the recommendations to the state.

When the resolution was up for public hearing before council in January, residents on both sides of the issue turned out to comment, and council decided to accept more citizen input before voting its support.

Eight community members, along with city staff and a council member, met to reconsider and rewrite the original resolution to reflect the concerns. The new resolution reflects the consensus of the committee, said city manager Matt Greeson.

The new resolution makes clear that the plan does not impose any mandatory requirements or limitations on the city, and that the city may not impose any recommendations on private property.

It also clarifies that the city does not wish to comment on the plan as it applies to any other jurisdiction and does not wish to interfere with the planning authority of any other jurisdiction.

Also mentioned is the low-head dam that is located just south of Granville Road. It states that the city will support the removal of the dam only if the removal does not require a lift station.

The construction of a lift station might be counter-productive for the environment, Greeson said.

The city also made changes to a map of priority areas that is part of the plan.

The new plan excludes property along Fox Lane from the "priority conservation area," and adds that designation to some property along the west side of the river.

That land is included in a zoning overlay area that protects the land up to and including the bluff on the east side of Olentangy River Road.

The overlay was approved by the city several years ago to keep developers from building in an area that needs to be protected, one resident said.

"Worthington has been acting for some years now in a conservation manner to protect areas that are important to the watershed as well as to the character of Worthington," said Scott Whitlock.

John Haueisen, who lives on Fox Lane, thanked council for allowing citizens to have a voice in the issue.

MORPC project director Jerry Tinianow said he was comfortable with the resolution of support. Only one community, Brown Township, has not yet voted to support the plan, he said.

He plans to submit the plan to the Ohio Water Resources Council for approval on March 2 and expects to receive its endorsement in a month.