Economic development will be a focus for the village of Johnstown this year.

Economic development will be a focus for the village of Johnstown this year.

"Establishing a new business park is and will continue to be a high priority for the village," said Jim Lenner, village manager and planner.

"We continue to evaluate potential sites for establishment of a new business park on the west side of the village."

He said the village also would revisit the cost for expanding its current business park east along Sportsman Club Road in order to facilitate another 180 acres of ground for manufacturing use.

"It is very important to the economic stability of the village to be able to count on businesses to provide jobs and income for the residents," Lenner said.

"We recently adopted our first economic development strategic plan that will help guide us in future endeavors to broaden our manufacturing tax base here in the village."

Mayor Sean Staneart Said he agrees economic development will be the primary focus this year.

"It really is the only way we can increase the village tax base without putting a larger burden on the residents who live here," Staneart said.

"Even though we have become more efficient and lean in how we operate, we have been heavily restricted in adding additional services, or being able to provide a higher quality of service in our existing areas," he said.

Staneart said the village will continue to look for increased efficiencies and partnerships.

"But increasing our corporate tax base will really be the game changer in the development of Johnstown," he said.

Staneart said another priority for him is planning and zoning.

"I would like to see Johnstown find a common theme and uniformity in its design plan," he said.

"This theme will help in holding the identity of the community together as the borders of our village press outward, and the expansion of other areas come closer.

"Over the last six years we have made major updates to our code books, and strategic plan, during a time of only slow to moderate growth," Staneart said.

"This new code will be tested by the wave of growth that is heading our way.

"Enforcement and implementation of these improved regulations is imperative as development begins to happen in our area."

Lenner said development pressure will continue to build as the year progresses.

"We already had an informal discussion with a developer who wants to build a new residential neighborhood in the village," Lenner said.

"Also, Maronda Homes will continue to build in their neighborhood.

"There are also two to three other commercial properties that mIght be built upon in 2016," Lenner said.

"It is very important that these developments are constructed in a manner that is sustainable and helps to mitigate the increased workload on our already stressed staff."

Lenner said the village must re-evaluate its 2012 strategic plan in looking at future development.

"When it was first drafted, it did not consider the new school facilities or the Mink Street interchange that is now proposed for construction," he said.

"Those two items will be large draws to our community."

Staneart said partnerships with other governmental agencies, and outside communities need to be a focus for the city to help meet the challenges and needs in the northwestern part of Licking County.

A tangible project residents will see this year is the reconstruction of West Jersey Street from South Main Street to Anna Way, Lenner said.

"It will involve the complete removal and replacement of the roadway, sidewalks and storm sewer," he said.

The $1.2 million project is estimated to take approximately five months to complete, depending on the weather.

"We are currently acquiring easements and right of away for the project," Lenner said.

There were approximately 50 properties the village had to acquire to make the project possible.

"We will go to bid in mid-January, and we will start construction as soon as the weather breaks in the spring," Lenner said. "This project is very important because with the proposed interchange being planned at Mink Street and state Route 161, it will provide a northern major traffic courier to the village."