Ross Twp. downtown plan unveiled

Trustees and residents got a first look Thursday at the Ross Twp. downtown redevelopment plan, and they liked what they saw.

Today, the route along Ohio 128 is a hodgepodge of businesses and residential, dotted with houses, banks, car dealers, a Family Dollar and an ice cream shop. Township trustees paid McGill Smith Punshon Inc. $37,000 to study what is now being called the Venice Downtown Redevelopment District, which stretches from the Venice Pavillion Antiques Mall northeast to School Road.

Trustee Board President Raymond Wurzelbacher said the plan isn’t a project they will be undertaking per se, but rather a blueprint for future redevelopment.

“It was just a brainstorming, it’s what we would like to see maybe in the future,” he said. “But it’s not written in gold.”

Township Administrator Bob Bass has said they envision some of the houses — nobody is going to be forced out of their homes — being redeveloped into offices for professionals such as lawyers and doctors.

“What we are looking for is something that would have that old town type of shops, some old time type of restaurants and coffee shops and possibly even some park area, that would then be able to be walked to from point A to point B,” he said.

The study delineated some goals and objectives of the plan such as the fact it is an opportunity for the township to compete in the area, beefing up its tax base and inviting growth. But the consultants also said the trustees can’t just let the plan sit on a shelf.

“A major aspect for successful implementation is a commitment from stakeholders to ‘sell’ the identity of this corridor by creating a community/business group that will ensure the follow through of the plan,” the study reads. “This follow through may include developing events to maintain continuing interest in the corridor.”

The township doesn’t have money for things like burying utility lines or major infrastructure work. The plan does include creating off-street parking behind what might eventually be businesses or restaurants in the homes that pepper the street, to reduce the number of curb cuts, which pose safety concerns.

Trustee Tom Willsey said his favorite part of the plan is it protects the township’s ambiance and will forestall any developers of “big box” stores coming to downtown. He said they hope the plan unfolds like old West Chester Twp.

“It’s just a plan, it’s some ideas, we hired this firm to give us some ideas on what we can do to spur economic development in the downtown area,” he said. “We want to try to keep the old Ross flavor in that area.”

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