FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 8/14/00


Darby Creek Association Makes Statement Opposing Manchester Park Development

14 Aug. 2000

To: Brown Township Trustees

From: Darby Creek Association Trustees

(Steve Borror, President; Christine Harmon, Vice President; Trudy Stewart, Treasurer; Paul Dumuchelle, Secretary; Terry Stewart, Kay Boggs, Dorothy McGrath, Tony Sasson, Jim Grigsby, Darlene Steele, Mary Evans)

 Dear Brown Township Trustees;

The Darby Creek Association would like to voice concerns about the Manchester Park project currently under your review. Our apprehensions are two-fold: First, we are concerned about the effects such a large-scale development could have on Big Darby Creek. Second, and more generally, we are concerned about the precedent this project would set, both for the future of the Brown Township Comprehensive Plan and for the urbanization of the Darby watershed.

It is well known that, in the past, urbanization has coincided with a degradation of water quality in Darby. Examples include Hellbranch Run near Hilliard, Big Darby Creek below Plain City and Darbydale, and Little Darby below West Jefferson. In addition, there is strong evidence that the lower Big Darby, though seemingly far removed from urban development, is being dramatically affected by alterations in stream flow originating in urbanizing areas upstream.

The impacts of development are many, and often not obvious to planners. Problems include:

Changes in hydrology, either due to increased storm runoff across impervious surfaces, or, conversely, due to "dewatering" of the stream through the creation of impervious catch basins or through the draw-down of groundwater from well systems.

Pollution from such sources as malfunctioning sewage systems, increased traffic, lawn and household chemicals, and fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides from golf courses. Often this impact is through groundwater contamination.

Erosion resulting from construction, drainage alterations, impacted lawns and other landscape features, and the creation of impervious surfaces.

Trash from increased human activity in an area.

 

Though DCA recognizes that environmentally benign development is possible, we do not feel that enough study, planning, and regulation is currently in place to support further large-scale development in the watershed. We do support, and in fact encourage, county-wide, multi-jurisdictional planning to insure Darby Creek's future while allowing for smart growth.

Secondly, DCA is extremely concerned about the precedent Manchester Park would set. If this or another project goes forward before appropriate planning is in place the door would be opened for similar developments in Brown Township and beyond. In this sense Manchester Park could have catastrophic effects far beyond its impact on its immediate surroundings. DCA has consistently fought against major developments in the Environmental Conservation District (ECD) created in the Columbus Comprehensive Plan. A district that was created, in part, to protect the Big Darby Creek. This is the third major project within the ECD which developers have sought in recent years that DCA has formally protested against. The first proposal, which would have extended Columbus City Sewer Service into the ECD, was rejected in a unanimous vote of Columbus City Council. The second, the recent "Sugar Property Plan," was rejected by Ohio EPA. DCA opposes major developments in the ECD until county-wide, multi-jurisdictional planning to insure Darby Creek's future is in place. We will use all the tools available to citizens to prevent such development.

In addition, we have a concern over the precedent this development would have for the Brown Township Comprehensive Plan. DCA has long had close ties to Brown Township--stemming from battles over dams and upground reservoirs--and we have maintained a strong membership base in your district. In the past we have staunchly supported your Comprehensive Plan, which became one of the first concrete protective measures taken on the Darby's behalf. Time and again we have pointed to it as a model both for its protection of Darby Creek and for its goal of maintaining the rural character of the township, as defined by a combination of agriculture, open space, and large lot residential housing. We wish to point out that Manchester Park violates the recommended density of your Comprehensive Plan (as reported in the 7/20/00 Columbus Dispatch), and, we believe more importantly, violates the spirit of this plan for maintenance of the township's rural quality of life.

Finally, as you are no doubt aware, the Franklin County Commissioners recently announced their intention to allow land application sewage plants in unincorporated areas of the county. We opposed this action because it removed an important check on urban sprawl in the Darby watershed, i.e. the need for large-scale developments to tie into Columbus'

centralized sewage treatment system. The County Commissioners’ action is also opposed by officials from 11 Central Ohio municipalities.* Despite their new policy, we believe the commissioners would be compelled to respect your wishes with respect to Manchester Park. Therefore, we ask that you oppose the development.

Sincerely,

Darby Creek Association Trustees