Worthington City Council President David Robinson would like to study the possibility of residential developments instead of commercial buildings along the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road.
He attended the city’s Community Improvement Corporation meeting April 8, along with several council members.
Robinson said a good first step might be a pilot study to determine residential options on four CIC-owned properties at the west end of East Wilson Bridge Road.
The four properties and 11 others recently were rezoned commercial by City Council, despite organized opposition by some nearby residents.
Robinson and five other council members attended the meeting personally or online, so the informational meeting constituted a public meeting because of their presence.
Councilman Doug Smith is CIC board vice president. Council members Bonnie Michael and Rebecca Hermann are also CIC board members.
CIC non-council members include board chairwoman Rebecca Princehorn, treasurer Scott Green, Matt Gregory, Kathy Holcombe, Beth Sommer and Matt Welch.
The CIC is a non-profit economic development agency. The city’s web site identified it as an “agent of the City … engaging in activities to create or preserve jobs and employment opportunities and to improve the economic welfare of the people of Worthington and Ohio.
“It has the authority to encourage and cause the maintenance, location, relocation, expansion, modernization and equipment of sites, buildings and structures. Its activities are pursued with the intent to maintain and create additional opportunities for employment within the City in order that tax revenues may be available to provide services for the preservation of the public health, safety, and general welfare of the City.”
Robinson recently sent an email to City Manager Matt Greeson, Assistant City Manager Robyn Stewart, Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Director David McCorkle, and other council members, to let them know of his idea to research residential uses for the CIC properties.
“I believe the development of housing at this site would be of greater value to the City and its residents compared to additional commercial at this time in our city’s history (Commercial and Industrial-zoned areas already comprise 21.87 percent of our zoned land mass),” he wrote.
“I know that much work has been done to assemble these parcels for anticipated commercial use, but the decision to do so was made many years ago in a very different time with very different circumstances.”
Robinson said resistance by residents to continued commercial development along the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road – and a broader, nationwide lack of affordable housing, also a perceived problem in Worthington – were motivations for his idea.
Robinson said he would like to see a pilot study of residential options for the four contiguous properties the CIC owns, including a so-called “pocket neighborhood.”
Hermann noted the 35 mph speed limit along the road might make it unsuitable for residential.
“I like pocket neighborhoods, but not there,” she said.
The city has paid $150,000 for a site study of the four properties. The study is currently in draft form and should be completed by late summer, McCorkle said. Structures on the four properties are projected for demolition sometime this summer.
In his email, Robinson asked that further discussions take place prior to putting it on the agenda of a future council meeting, to gauge “if there is indeed sufficient interest in exploring this possibility,” Robinson wrote.