Fragile Big Darby Creek once again threatened by development
It appears Big Darby Creek on the border of Madison and Franklin counties may be facing more environmental threats.
The creek is a state and national scenic river and is home to several endangered and threatened aquatic species. It is considered one of the “Last Great Places” in the U.S.
It’s only been about a year since Columbus backed out of a plan to run water and sewer lines westward under the creek to the Village of Plain City (half in Madison County and half in Union County). Those lines would have served hundreds of new homes and businesses planned for developments along the Union and Madison county lines near the creek.
But environmentalists objected to the Columbus-Plain City pipeline link and the two could not agree on metering rights. The effort was abandoned.
Now, new threats come from a plan by Plain City to expand its current sewage disposal plant in order to accommodate 1,500 new households in or near the village.
Local environmental groups like the Darby Creek Association believe Plain City has not presented a clear way of handling treated water discharged from the expanded plant into Big Darby. Storm water discharged is also a problem.
It’s true Plain City is growing. I see that for myself every time I drive through the area – which is often. New houses seem to pop up monthly on the south side of the village in upscale developments.
I was astonished to read in the Columbus Dispatch this week that the village expects to grow from the current 4,500 residents to 15,000 in the next 20 years. That would make it a city – and way bigger than London, the current Madison County seat of government.
People appear to be flocking to Plain City because of lower taxes, good local schools, and a proximity to thriving, upscale suburban areas like Dublin, Hilliard, and northwest Columbus.
But residential expansion needs to be responsible. Having once covered village government there, I personally wonder if Plain City’s leadership has the sophistication and ability to handle growth while respecting nearby natural resources like Big and Little Darby Creeks.
Columbus is going to grow. And growing westward toward Plain City (and West Jefferson) seems the likely path since much of that area is open, accessible, and has avoided development in the past.
But it is going to be necessary to keep an eye on how that growth is handled.