Orange Township trustees OK U.S. 23 overlay district

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

Orange Township trustees Oct. 5 approved a zoning overlay and procedure for the U.S. Route 23 corridor through the township.

Trustees voted 3-0 to approve implementation of the 23 Overlay District.

The intent is to streamline the zoning-application process for commercial development and fast-track commercial zoning applications within the boundaries of the overlay, township planning and zoning director Michele Boni said.

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“The overlay is a giant step forward in our smart-growth strategy to help generate tax dollars for our schools and ease the burden on families and homeowners,” trustee Ryan Rivers said.

Trustee Ben Grumbles called the overlay a “shift to defining our future rather than reacting.”

The overlay language was adapted by the township’s zoning commission based on the proposed Route 23 Corridor Guide.

It was developed by One Delaware, a private-public partnership that seeks to promote commercial development and tax diversification along U.S. Route 23 throughout much of Delaware County and in partnership with Delaware County Economic Development.

The project advocates streamlined commercial zoning along the corridor through the county.

The overlay features areas specifically zoned for commercial office, industrial (to include research and development and logistics), mixed-use and multifamily residential development, Holly Mattei, a consultant contracted by Delaware County Economic Development, told trustees.

The language stipulates standards for parking, green space, service roads and other connectors, architecture and landscaping, signs and building-to-lot-width ratios, Mattei said.

“It will serve as a standard and set expectations for developers to meet the desires of the community,” Mattei told trustees.

Kelsey Scott, economic-development coordinator with Delaware County Economic Development, told trustees her office projects that the overlay would generate $560 million in economic development over the next 10 years and $385 million in local tax revenue over a 30-year period.

“Our smart-growth strategy includes the generation of tax dollars to ease the burden on our homeowners and without the impact on the schools,” Rivers said.

The overlay becomes effective Nov. 5. Rivers said he has noticed some interest among businesses in using the expedited zoning process, which allows proposals within the overlay to bypass the township’s zoning commission and be brought directly to trustees. The process still will include an informal review by the commission within 14 days of submission.

“The next is to successfully implement (the overlay). We will be working in partnership with the Delaware County Economic Development team to attract the desired business and commercial development,” Rivers said.

“I believe this will better position the community to meet the fiscal demands of the future,” Delaware County economic-development director Bob Lamb said.

Orange Township is the first jurisdiction to adopt language based on the Route 23 Corridor Guide, Lamb said. He said his office continues to work with other jurisdictions along the U.S. 23 corridor in the county, encouraging adoption of a similar streamlined zoning process.

The overlay could involve as many as five other governmental entities, including the cities of Delaware and Columbus, as well as Berlin, Liberty and Troy townships.  

"We respect the heritage of the communities while diversifying the tax base and bringing jobs to the area," Lamb said.

Orange Township trustees also were scheduled to hear from developers of the Reserve at North Farms, a proposed multifamily development on the east side of North Road, during the Oct. 5 meeting, but developers requested that the hearing be tabled.

The hearing has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19.

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