Darbies safe from more development – for now
It appears the Big and Little Darby Creek corridors are safe from encroaching development – at least for the moment.
An article in The Columbus Dispatch on Oct. 30 says the City of Columbus has withdrawn its petition to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to extend water and sewer service to the Village of Plain City in northern Madison County.
That was good news to anyone who values these waterways and the important wildlife in them.
Big and Little Darby Creeks comprise one of the most biologically important ecosystems in the Midwest. The waterways contain about 38 rare species of fish and mussels – some not found anywhere else.
As I understand it, Plain City sought the extension in order to grow and expand its service area to eventually include 25,000 acres along State Route 161 on the Franklin-Madison county line.
Developers were itching to put nearly 11,500 housing units on the 25,000 acres over the next 20 years. The Big Darby Accord prevents those developers from building in Franklin County, but not in Madison.
Members of the Darby Creek Association were alarmed by Plain City’s move and the possibility of so much housing nearby. They said it would put the creeks – both state and national scenic rivers – in environmental jeopardy.
I have written about this in the past. It is obvious that Columbus is growing by leaps and bounds. It is already heavily developed on the north and east. It is no wonder folks are looking to the west as the next likely place for the city to expand.
But running those water and sewer lines from Columbus to Plain City would have meant running them under Big Darby Creek – something the Ohio DNR would also need to approve. As a result of the recent withdrawal, it never came to that.
Plain City’s administrator was quoted as saying the village has a contingency plan to provide water and sewer service to accommodate future growth. He didn’t say what that plan is. Options appear to be few, but could include individual home wells and septic systems. That would not be a good idea either.
Regardless, area residents (and anyone else) who value the unique biology of the Darbies, need to remain vigilant. Columbus will grow one way or another. Let’s hope that growth won’t jeopardize the unique ecology of these important streams.