Violet Township is one of four central Ohio communities that has been awarded a technical assistance grant by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to assist in future planning projects.

The Insight 2050 Technical Assistance Program specifically will be used to provide both expertise and man hours to help the township implement the Violet Township Refugee Road/Pickerington Road Corridor Master Plan.

The goal of the Corridor Plan ultimately is to develop a mixed-use residential community complete with recreational opportunities, medical and other offices as well as a retail component. Included in the mix would be a multimodal transportation infrastructure plan.

A proposed community recreation center would essentially anchor the development, which would be located on the southeast corner of the Refugee Road/Pickerington Road intersection.

Violet Township Development Director Holly Mattei said the need for such development arises out of an increased demand from empty-nesters and millennials for higher-density housing stock and compact, mixed-use, walkable communities.

She said millennials (ages 18 to 34) and empty-nesters (over age 65) have similar desires for such a development.

"There will be 1 million new people in the Columbus region by 2050. Most of those will be millennials or 65 and (older)," Mattei said.

"We want to be able to provide the things they like and create that community they are looking for," she said.

"We're definitely looking for something walkable, that has a (Community) Center to it and connects to existing infrastructure."

Mattei said there already is strong support in Violet Township for a community recreation center with amenities such as an indoor pool, walking/jogging track and cardio-fitness equipment.

She pointed to the 2016 comprehensive study performed by market research firm ETC, which indicated more than 90 percent of township residents surveyed approved of a new indoor community center.

Furthermore, 73 percent of those polled indicated they were likely to vote in favor of a tax levy to build a community center.

"As far as implementing the plan, it would be a public/private partnership in order to move the project forward," Mattei said, "but the survey results show the support."

Most of the land upon which the mixed-use development would be built is owned by the Ricketts family of Pickerington. The family has expressed interest in working with Violet Township to develop the land, Mattei said.

Also included in the master plan is the Smith/Sanders property, 36 acres on the southeast corner of Pickerington/Refugee Roads, that was annexed into the city of Pickerington in 2015.

Mattei said she hopes to work with the city on the development of the corridor.

"The Smith/Sanders property is included in the plan as well," Mattei said. "We've reached out to the city. We've told them we're willing to work with them on a plan that meets everybody's needs," she said.

A multiuse bike path on the north side of Refugee Road from the Franklin County line all the way to Tollgate Elementary School is also an important component of the plan.

"As part of the master plan we want to connect multi-modal paths into a larger regional network into the city and west into the Blacklick (Creek Greenway) Trail," Mattei said.

She acknowledged that a proposed sustainable community is in the early, conceptual phase, however, the Master Plan will be more fully developed in the next year utilizing stakeholders in the community.

"Once the Master Plan is created and approved we'll look for investors and implement the plan," she said.

In awarding Violet Township the grant, MORPC officials stated through a press release that they recognized the Refugee Road corridor as a "high-pressure growth area" and identified the need for the township to integrate "smaller, compact communities" into the existing landscape.