New Albany Puts "Community" in Community Development

This guest column appeared in the June 14 edition of This Week New Albany News


Growth does not come without challenges, but as a master-planned community, New Albany is able to effectively manage the inevitable growth that all communities experience by collaborating with residents and businesses to ensure that development improves and protects our quality of life.

Under the direction of New Albany City Council and city manager, the community development department evaluates every residential and commercial land use and development decision to determine consistency with our strategic plans and architectural and aesthetic requirements while delivering the best return on investment. Our strategic plans are developed with steering committees and extensive public engagement. Our City Council and board and commission members provide the checks and balances that protect the integrity of these plans.

This effort is more important today than ever. Central Ohio is expected to grow by an estimated one million people and add more than 300,000 new jobs by 2050, according to insight2050. Funded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Columbus2020 and the Urban Land Institute of Columbus, insight2050 is a collaborative initiative to help communities proactively plan for growth over the next 30+ years; growth that is expected to be dramatically different from the past.

“An unprecedented 81 percent of our region’s future household growth will be households without children,” notes insight2050. “While this includes Millennials, this growth will be driven substantially by the increasing numbers of empty nesters.”

Many of insight2050’s recommendations mirror what we are already doing. Since the master plan was enacted in 1998, it has been updated every five years based upon community input and sound urban planning principles, including pedestrian-friendly amenities, connectivity, mixed use environments, versatile residential choices, quality architecture, traditional neighborhoods and sustainability. We also make sure that New Albany’s four pillars – education, culture, health and sustainability – are reflected in our future vision.

Each update pays homage to the original master plan developed by The New Albany Company after years of study and analysis by leading architects and land planners from Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia. It embraces the best practices of thriving, centuries-old communities like Williamsburg, Virginia and Cotswold, England, while avoiding the pitfalls of suburban sprawl that negatively impact other suburbs, both physically and fiscally.

As a result, we can anticipate growth rather than react to it. It is why our Village Center is built with important civic amenities, including our library, the New Albany Plain Local Schools’ 200-acre Learning Campus, the McCoy Center and the Heit Center, as well as retail and multifamily housing. It is why The New Albany International Business Park was designed with commercial clusters that attract specific types of businesses to create synergies that promote commerce and four highway interchanges to reduce traffic congestion.

Most importantly, we are in a very strong position to respond to insight2050’s growth projections so we can develop a balanced community for residents and businesses who want to locate where the workforce lives and can provide the tax base to support our city services and schools while offsetting the tax burden on our residents.

Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany Community Development Director