Looking ahead is inherent in the work that the Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Department does, but the research it is doing now to determine the best locations for future development is detailed to a degree that should benefit the community for years to come.
Planners have been working for more than a year on a strategic plan to help city officials proactively prepare for residential and industrial expansion in areas where infrastructure and city services are most available.
However, available land to support large industrial operations and large residential developments is sparse.
The plan is an outgrowth of discussions about where the next locations for industrial development could be and how the demand for housing could be met. Both needs tie into efforts to attract new economic investment in Columbus.
Planners have been identifying constraints to development; places with adequate services such as fire protection, water and sewer; drawing up a list of action items and creating future land-use recommendations for the sites.
The best prospects for growth appear to be areas southwest and east of Columbus, which have more services and fewer constraints.
This plan, which is being shared with the city and county plan commissions, is a great approach because the department can’t afford to react to unforeseen circumstances. Knowing the city’s development assets can help businesses and developers work in concert with the city to achieve elements of its strategic vision.
If developed sites attract more economic investment and create more jobs and enough housing is in place to accommodate additional employees, then the entire community wins thanks to a detailed, long-range plan.