Developers now have a blueprint to follow as they scout locations along the two main corridors in the city of Groveport: Hamilton and Groveport roads.
Groveport City Council on June 25 unanimously approved a Gateway Corridor Plan, which lays out "basic concepts for future development" and helps identify key issues in each corridor.
"When businesses come looking, they look for a gateway plan," council President Shawn Cleary said. "Every time a business contacts us, they want to know what we've done for the future. This plan is what they're looking for."
Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director Jeff Green said the next step is to look at zoning and what needs to change if city planners decide to create gateway overlay districts. Discussions could begin over the summer, he said.
The gateway corridor plan evolved from an $8,800 study by private planning consultant James L. Hartzler, who focused on Hamilton Road between U.S. Route 33 and Bixby Road, and on Groveport Road from state Route 317 west to Swisher Road.
Developers have been eyeing the tracts remaining in the two corridors as sites for potential warehouses and distribution centers, according to city officials. Currently, industrial development delivers much of the city's roughly $14.5 million income tax revenue through withholdings, according to Green.
He said the corridor plan is "a road map for us of what we think is suitable for these areas and how we'd like to see them developed."
"Even down to what's the aesthetic because these are gateways into our community," he said.
The city also is considering commercial development that would be well-matched with current industrial and commercial development.
"This will give planning and zoning a chance to move ahead on some of the codes that need to be changed," Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said. "We will go ahead and fine-tune, I guess you could say, the zoning areas and make it more conducive to the development that will sit there."
Recommendations from Hartzler's 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 a 40-acre site owned by American Electric Power, 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 multitenant "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.
* Focus redevelopment efforts on the Groveport Road corridor, while "setting the stage" for future development of the Saltzgaber Road corridor 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.