HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) – Growing pains are causing a deep rift in Hilliard — where a city councilman created a viral video that attacks the city’s new comprehensive development plan.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther is calling on suburbs like Hilliard, and leaders of the 15-county central Ohio region, to do their part about the looming housing crisis. This could play out in suburbs, and outlying counties all throughout the region. There’s a job boom that the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Projects said will bring in nearly 800,000 new people to central Ohio.
Hilliard has a new development plan – and a big fight on their hands. Hilliard City Council members Omar Tarazi and Les Carrier produced a video they said brings to life the plan they fear, which could put 17,000 people in densely packed apartments surrounded by roads and schools that can’t support them.
“You need to talk about how an ownership stake in a space for people to meet, public gathering places, there’s a whole lot of things that go with it, rather than just building warehouses for people,” Tarazi said.
Pete Marsh, one of the four council members who approved the plan, said it was community ‘generated’, developed by a steering committee of 27 residents who held public meetings.
“They showed up at community events like our Thursday night concert series, Freedom Fest, talked to over 800 people, they really put in a lot of hours to compile community feedback, and I think it’s kind of an unfortunate disservice to the hard work they did,” Marsh said.
Critics say the plan allows for construction of apartment complexes three, four, five or six stories high throughout the city, even in quaint Old Hilliard, and a line of densely packed apartments along the I-270 corridor. Carrier calls it a poor attempt to replicate Dublin’s upscale Bridge Park.
“So Bridge Park works, because there’s a class of people that have a tremendous amount of disposable income, [in Hilliard it] doesn’t, because you have thousands of people in apartments with no disposable income. They’re spending all their money on apartments and just trying to feed their families. And that’s the difference,” Carrier said.
Planners envision it as a comprehensive plan for a progressive future.
“It’s not a helpful characterization to say, ‘apartments bad’ or ‘apartments good.’ You know, you have to think about all of these components that go into it,” Marsh said.
Critics, however, believe it is a cut-and-paste path to urban overcrowding.
“Columbus wants to add heavy density in the Sawmill Corridor that just simply increases the demand for services for our EMS, fire and our teachers, and the more that you have, the higher taxes are going to be,” Carrier said.
Carrier and Tarazi stand behind the video and said it is an accurate representation of what’s to come. Marsh said it does not reflect the mixed-use plans for the future.