Progressive Planning in Yellow Springs

Ohio enacted municipal planning legislation in 1915.  By 1923, Ohio adopted legislation authorizing zoning, regional planning, and subdivision regulations.  Throughout its history, especially since the 1920's, many village planning efforts have been formulated. Three principal themes recur throughout most of these plans:

 

1)  Awareness of the need for long-range planning.

2)  Emphasis on the desirability of maintaining open space.

3)  A desire to keep the community relatively small and self-sufficient.

 

Yellow Springs first official comprehensive land use plan was adopted in 1967. One goal introduced in the document, with an associated program, was the preservation of the Village as a semi-rural community near an urbanized metropolitan area. Although generally desirable, this statement may have been in response to a regional report projecting a 20% population increase before 1980. In response, the Village Council refused all overtures to annex nearby rural land, enacted new restrictive zoning and subdivision regulations and made development more costly through measures such as requiring park/open space dedications as components of any approved subdivision. The 1967 Village Comprehensive Plan also identified a greenbelt area just west of the Village to provide a visual and geographic separation between the community and surrounding developments.

 

The actual 1980 census figures indicated the Village had lost population. Even though new homes were being built, the average family size was dropping, and Antioch College had experienced a decline in student population. The local school administration expressed concern over this trend and Village Council responded by taking steps to encourage some growth. A 1973 survey of nearly 400 Village residents, in preparation for a Plan update that was completed in 1977, indicated that some growth would be acceptable, and that controlled growth was preferred. Based on the survey results, the 1977 Plan re-affirmed the pursuance of the greenbelt preservation approach but also included a directive to pursue some limited commercial expansion.

 

Ten years later the Village Council appointed a "Planned Growth Task Force" charged with identifying existing obstacles to residential development in the community and outlining ways to address them. In November of 1987, the Task Force identified appropriate potential locations for residential and commercial development and also introduced the concept of green space corridors linking existing parkland.

 

Using a system of neighborhood forums, another polling of the community was performed in 1990 in connection with the Urban-Rural Interface Project funded through a US Forestry Service grant. The general consensus expressed in these forums, by a large margin, identified valued assets of the Village including:

  1. The willingness of individuals to tolerate and encourage diversity which creates the multi-faceted make-up of the community.

  2. the independent school system.

  3. the present size and character of the village.

  4. the commercial/ social/cultural "hub" that exists downtown.

  5. the surrounding open/green/agricultural spaces; and

  6. efforts by the Village and Township governments to work cooperatively on land use and other related issues.

 

Questions about how to support and protect these assets were also raised in the forums. Identification of valued assets was followed by a list of related concerns. These included:

  1. How to identify and protect existing diversity.

  2. How to determine and maintain an "ideal" size for the village.

  3. How to continue adequate financing for an independent school system; and

  4. How to assist and encourage continuation and expansion of local businesses without threatening other community assets.

 

In 2009 and 2010, a Visioning Plan for the Village of Yellow Springs and Miami Township was developed and adopted. This Plan, titled Vision Yellow Springs and Miami Township was the result of an intensive year-long, citizen-based initiative which brought together a diverse group of citizens to create a holistic, collaborative vision and action plan to chart a course toward a common future that reflects the community’s shared values. The Vision identifies goals for most aspects of quality of life in the village and township, from arts and culture to economic health to land stewardship, and also presents specific actions to realize a preferred future.

 

Through the 2010 VISION Yellow Springs and Miami Township process, the following statement expressed the vision for the future of Yellow Springs and Miami Township:
 

"Our vision for the future is to be a diverse and unique community with rich arts and lifelong learning opportunities that work collaboratively to create a more sustainable future - in the broadest definition - with vital and authentic villages surrounded by a carefully managed rural landscape"

 

 

Through the process, 10 initial actions were identified as priorities:

 

Strengthening the Economy

  1. Create and implement an economic development plan.

  2. Identify and work to increase potential properties for business.

  3. Develop and implement a program to engage area colleges and universities in

collaborative initiatives with the community.

 

Managing the Physical Environment

  1. Prepare and implement a joint comprehensive land use plan.

  2. Prepare and implement a long-term utility improvement plan

  3. Prepare and implement a pedestrian (sidewalk) and bicycle plan for Yellow

Springs and the Township.

Meeting the Needs of People

  1. Conduct and implement a housing plan for the village and township.

  2. Maintain and improve an independent public-school system.

 

Promoting Energy Conservation & Sustainability

  1. Develop a green energy and waste reduction program.

  2. Create a campaign to encourage more local consumption of locally grown foods.

 

A number of initiatives outlined in the Vision document have been completed and the village continues to move forward implementing many of the remaining items. This comprehensive land use plan update integrates the priorities and desires expressed by the village and its stakeholders through the 2010 Vision process.