Community members have the opportunity to provide comment on the balanced growth plan for the Olentangy watershed, a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) project in the works since 2009.
MORPC is seeking input from community members during a public review period beginning Thursday that runs through Oct. 14.
Once completed, the growth plan will be a set of non-binding recommendations that identifies priority conservation and development areas along the Olentangy River, as well as recommended policies for communities to adopt in order to protect the watershed.
Erin Grushon, an associate planner with MORPC, said the statewide plan is designed to protect Ohio’s watersheds, promote economic development and improve ecological health and quality of life.
“Our region is one that’s expected to grow in population over the next 25 years, particularly with a strong population in the southern half of Delaware County,” Grushon said. “It’s a good thing people are moving here, but we also want to protect our water, water quality and environment and to really prioritize where it makes the most sense for development to occur.”
The watershed is defined as any land that drains into the Olentangy River or its tributaries.
About 24.8 miles of the river runs through the county, with Troy Township and the city of Delaware each laying claim to roughly 6.7 miles of it; the rest is divided up by the city of Powell, village of Ashley and various townships.
As for participating jurisdictions in Delaware County, there are 10: the cities of Delaware and Powell, the village of Ashley, as well as Brown, Delaware, Liberty, Orange, Marlboro, Oxford and Troy townships. There are also four counties that cover the Olentangy Watershed: Delaware, Franklin, Marion and Morrow.
MORPC will take suggestions and feedback through comment forms beginning Thursday on the MORPC website at balancedgrowthplanning.morpc.org or from those attending a public meeting. The draft plan will be available at local libraries in the watershed and on the website on Thursday as well.
A Delaware County meeting has been scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at Highbanks Metro Park Nature Center, 9466 U.S. Route 23, Lewis Center. Light refreshments will be served at the meeting, and kids’ activities will be included.
Those attending the meeting will hear an overview of the project and the main recommendations in the plan, Grushon said. The plan has been reviewed by the communities and the stakeholders, but this is the first opportunity for broad public comment.
“The plan is not in its final form,” Grushon said. “It’s not too late for the public to take a look.”
After the public comment period, the final touches will be done, Grushon said. Then MORPC will try to get local support from the participating communities through a resolution. The plan needs to be sent to the Ohio Water Resources Council by February 2012.
The Olentangy watershed plan got underway in 2009 with regular meetings for most of that year with officials from each of the four counties, 17 townships and 10 municipalities that share the watershed, Grushon said.
The entire process has been voluntary and incentive-based with all 27 communities passingresolutions of support in 2009 to participate.
Those interested in attending the public meeting can contact Whetstone by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 614-233-4174 for additional information or to RSVP.