The part of the plan that has people so divided is the potential for up to six-story buildings going up around Hilliard. Those at the Save Hilliard rally say it could change the town’s identity.
“How do we want to look?” Hilliard City Councilmember Les Carrier said. “Do we want four stories? Right there? Do we want, you know, do we want that density crowded in on top of what we’ve got here, or do we want to be different than Columbus?”
The plan passed, but it’s still a long way before construction starts. The next step is zoning, where council votes on what can and can’t be built in different areas.
“If a developer wants to put five stories, you can’t tell them no at that point because it’s part of the zoning, so we’re trying to say, ‘Hey, we want to stop the zoning issue,’” Hilliard City Council President Omar Tarazi said.
Carrier and Tarazi are the two council members who voted against the plan, saying area resources like schools and emergency medical services can’t handle that level of growth.
Others disagree, saying the plan takes those issues into account.
“We need to make sure that we can accommodate people that are coming to live in Hilliard because it’s going to happen,” Hilliard City Council Vice President Cynthia Vermillion said. “The whole central Ohio area is growing, and part of that population is going to land in Hilliard, so we need to be ready for that.”
Throughout the process, Hilliard residents had a say. Deryck Richardson was on the committee that helped write the plan.
I think it’s fantastic,” Richardson said. “I think that downtown Hilliard needs someplace to house the people that are going to come. We don’t know what the development is going to bring, but it gives us the option to do up to five stories with shops on the bottom and apartments on the top.”
No matter what side of the issue they fall on, people are encouraging Hilliard residents to read the plan, ask questions, and know what it means for their area.
Look at the different definitions of the different types of mixed-use and what it looks like, and then go around, take a look at some mixed-use,” Carrier said. “Not all mixed-use is the same.”
“It’s important to remember that this is a guideline,” Vermillion said. “These are possibilities.”
Many are looking toward the November elections, with the councilmembers who win seats being the ones who cast votes on zoning decisions.