Communities around the country develop plans that help them to look into the future and make decisions on where growth should take place in the way of business and housing. They also look at where the infrastructure dollars can best be spent and how to preserve and protect the environment.

For Clark County, that time is now. Looking back the county has not put together a land use plan since 1999 and much has changed in the way of the economy, the ability to keep future generations employed in the area and how to best serve the needs of the agriculture and business interests of this diverse area of southwest Ohio.

The Transportation Coordinating Committee has entered into a contract with planning NEXT, a company located in Columbus, Ohio who has experience in developing comprehensive plans with communities from across the country. Sarah Kelly, a member of the planning team for Clark County explained recently that her company has worked with Union and Hamilton Counties here in Ohio as well as with communities in Indiana, South Carolina and Alabama.

On Tuesday of last week, the CONNECT Clark County workshop for the western part of the county was held at United Senior Services in Mad River Township. Nearly all of the members of the Enon Village Council along with Mayor Tim Howard were in attendance along with several residents of the area to have input on where they believe the plan should be headed in regards to long range planning, land use, economic development, transportation and housing. Mad River Township was not represented by any elected officials at this public planning meeting.

Members of the Village Council sat at a table with the mayor to discuss what their vision would be for the county. Clark County Commissioner Lowell McGlothlin attended the meeting sitting with individuals from his area of the county while the third table was made up of a few residents of Mad River Township.

Kelly acknowledged that getting people to the various workshops can be a challenge, but the twenty or so who attended the meeting did come up with some very specific suggestions during the mapping exercise.

It was noted that the area around I-675 and the I-70 interchange that has been zoned for commercial development is overdue to be considered one of the prime areas for locating new businesses in the coming years. It was also noted that the plan would be the City of Springfield and Clark County working together. Residents suggested that the Rt 72 corridor from I-70 south into the city is another area ready for redevelopment rather than moving more businesses across I-70 into Springfield Township.

One member of the community suggested that it is a good idea to remember history, but in order to attract businesses with good paying jobs to the county, the plan must include moving into the future and giving up some of the current hold on preventing development.

Another key area identified was the Upper Valley Pike retail area. It was noted that the infrastructure already exists and that if retail could not fill the declining Upper Valley Mall, it may be a good use of space for an entertainment and large group meeting space. One resident familiar with the Center City Association suggested that currently the county does not have a venue capable of hosting a convention or private social events such as weddings, reunions and other large gatherings.

Another area discussed is the over development of Bechtle Avenue without another option to access St Rt 68 to the north. The traffic flow would be improved according to some of those present if an interchange was added at St. Paris Pike or Eagle City Road.

Alternative transportation was also a topic of discussion at the workshop. The table with Commissioner McGlothlin leaned toward additional bicycle trails being added to the county to allow for access to the western areas of the county.

For anyone who was unable to attend the workshop, comments are welcome regarding the planning. More information is available on the web site www.ConnectClarkCounty.org or by sending comments to Cory Lynn Golden at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The process of gathering information for the plan began with the formation of a steering committee which has a number of individuals from across the county. Other groups that have provided input for the planning include members of the agriculture community, business leaders and young people who will be the next generation of those seeking to make their home and work life in the county.

The comments and maps will be used from all of the workshops to discover similarities in thoughts from the various groups to help formulate the plan which will be presented in draft form in late summer. The final plan will be unveiled at an open house at the end of the year. Kelly explained that this is a fifteen month process and the team includes an economist and transportation advisor from her company.

The 1999 plan will also be used to see if the current plan is matching any of the new plan and if it in fact did show best practices. The Clark County plan has the advantage of being able to be compared to existing plans in other areas of the country where the process has proven successful.

The Enon Eagle and New Carlisle News will update our readers when the draft meetings are scheduled for late this summer.

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