Worthington News

May 29 MPC meeting

Consultants to present UMCH site recommendations

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After nearly 10 months of public input, the United Methodist Children's Home site-planning process will move on to the Municipal Planning Commission next week.

Consultants from MKSK will bring the commission and the audience up to date on their recommendations for how to update the city's comprehensive plan regarding the redevelopment of the 40 acres of prime property at 1033 High St. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the Worthington Municipal Building, 360 Highland Ave.

The land is for sale. City leaders, who are aware of how important the land is to the future of Worthington, hired the consultants a year ago to lead the planning process.

The public has weighed in heavily, both at public meetings and online at worthington.org/ visioningumch.

During the commission's May 29 meeting, the consultants will go over the process, but no action will be taken. The public will have an opportunity to comment.

Eventually, the commission will vote to recommend or not recommend the comprehensive-plan update to Worthington City Council, which will have the final vote.

The comprehensive plan serves as a guide for the city and developers. It is not a plan for redevelopment by itself.

Still, residents citywide have weighed in on the process in record numbers. Residents of the abutting Worthington Estates neighborhood have been very active, but input has come from all over the city.

WARD, which stands for Worthington Alliance for Responsible Development, comprises several hundred residents who want to be active in planning the future of the property.

Earlier this month, its leaders joined with leaders of the Old Worthington Association (OWA) to write and release a joint statement on how they want the land to be developed.

"We believe this is significant because we all share a common goal, to develop a mixed-use property that includes residential, commercial, retail and public/park space," said Mikel Coulter, representing the OWA.

Both organizations see the development as a signature project for the city, he said.

Their joint letter has been sent to the city, including all members of council. Representatives are expected to speak to council May 27 and to attend the presentation May 29.

Some of the criteria suggested in the letter are as follows:

• Make sure the development is well-planned, meeting or exceeding current best-practice standards for mixed-use property development.

• Include a significant, financially workable public-private partnership and include more community green space than normally would be provided.

• Make sure the development is balanced, including high-quality residential homes and condos that do not exceed two stories, Class A office space and retail uses, including at least one restaurant.

• Plan for appropriate levels of density, limiting the number of housing units and offices to avoid creating traffic congestion.

• Include office and retail buildings that complement downtown Worthington.

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