A study of two major corridors in Groveport lays out "basic concepts for future development" of areas around sections of Hamilton and Groveport roads -- two areas seen as gateways to the city.
In his report to city leaders, private community planning consultant James L. Hartzler said the $8,800 gateway corridor study is intended to be a starting point for future planning studies and a document that can be used to identify key development issues in each corridor; develop guidelines for future projects; devise development policies and recommendations and identify key development issues in each corridor.
Hartzler concentrated on Hamilton Road between U.S. Route 33 and Bixby Road, and Groveport Road from state Route 317 west to Swisher Road
"Gateways are the 'front door' to a community; they establish the all-important first impression on physical character, historic significance, economic activity and potential for growth," he wrote in his 20-page report. "These initial impressions are integral to the community's image. They are formed less by signage and 'entry features' than by the overall visual character of the land uses that comprise the edge of the community."
Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director Jeff Green said developers have been eyeing the tracts remaining in the two corridors as sites for potential warehouses and distribution centers. Currently, industrial development delivers much of the city's roughly $14.5 million income tax revenue through withholdings, he said.
The plan now is to find commercial development that is well-suited with existing industry, Green said.
"One of the first things we'll take a look at is possibly creating overlays and districts for these areas," he said. "For instance, within our planned industrial park zoning, it does allow for commercial development. But there are restrictions for the commercial development, and we're looking at broadening that a little bit."
Groveport City Council is expected to adopt a resolution accepting the study, which received the first of three readings at council's May 29 meeting.
"We kind of felt it was time to take a look at some of these areas, since they are gateways, and take a look at some of the existing development that is there and kind of look at ways we can grab control and look at the future," Green said. "We want to define what we want those areas to look like."
Corridor recommendations in the study include:
* Encourage adaptive reuse and occupancy of existing industrial buildings.
* Improve interior accessibility, such as establishing a link between Homer Ohio Lane and Higgins Boulevard.
* Likely uses for 40-acre site owned by American Electric Power, located between the Kmart distribution facility to the north and the parking lot for the AEP call center on the south include Groveport-Madison school expansion, AEP expansion or multi-tenant "flex" office space.
* Consider future commercial uses, including small-scale services, such as restaurants, banks and offices.
* Discourage open outside storage facilities.
* Create prominent landscaped entry feature for the northern entry to the corridor at Williams Road.
* Develop a city plan showing the location of recommended pedestrian access throughout the corridor, including along both sides of Hamilton Road.
* Thirty acres on the east side of Saltzgaber Road represent one of the few remaining vacant parcels in the immediate area drawing interest by the development community.
* Focus redevelopment efforts on the Groveport Road corridor, while "setting the stage" for future development of the Saltzgaber Road corridor when -- and if -- accessibility issues are resolved.
* Establish a plan for future annexation of property along the Groveport Road corridor.
* Commercial development of the Groveport Road corridor west of Green Pointe Drive would be appropriate.
* A new overlay zoning district should be created for properties abutting Groveport Road, with special requirements for setbacks, buffering, access and entry-point spacing and landscaping.
* Review and expand the uses allowed for the area adjacent to the state Route 317/Groveport Road intersection to include commercial uses that complement adjacent warehouse development.
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert noted the AEP-owned land and property would provide a prime location for an updated U.S. Postal Service office. She said the current facility at 189 Main St. is outdated and bears the responsibility of processing all the mail for nearby warehouses.
"The trouble with it is that someone owns the land, and someone owns the building," she said. "But that's a valuable piece there. Personally, I think that would be a great USPS."
As for expanding the city's development borders, Hilbert said, "You could always go east, but you'd have to annex."