Scenario 2, which concentrates more heavily on development within the Cleveland Urban Growth Boundary and the Mouse Creek Watershed, has been shown — at least on paper — as the most viable of four potential growth plans when considering transportation, fiscal and utility assessments, and how they can support the best interests (common goals) of the Joint Strategic Plan’s multi-governmental jurisdictions — Cleveland, Charleston, Bradley County and Cleveland Utilities.
The disclosure came Thursday night at Cleveland State Community College in the third Plan Forum hosted by Cincinnati consultants McBride, Dale & Clarion.
A local crowd of about 50 government, Chamber of Commerce, education and real estate developers learned that the 25-year growth plan is now ready for its next steps — a plan outline, the drafting of strategies and implementation actions, a Strategic Task Force meeting to review the document proposal and a presentation to Cleveland City Council, Bradley County Commission and Charleston City Council government leaders.
Respective jurisdictions will then have the option of weighing in on the recommendations and deciding whether they want to participate.
Before presenting the performance evaluations, consultant Greg Dale explained a fourth growth scenario that has been identified in the past two months. This is Scenario 4 which represents a “Blended Growth” plan because it combines some of the more viable elements of Scenario 2 (Infill & Redevelopment) and Scenario 3 (Southern Corridor).
He said Scenario 4 was created because local government leaders and planning staffs had already expressed strong interest in Scenario 2, but the group recognized it does have marketing, logistical and funding challenges. The decision to create Scenario 4 came as an alternative to Scenario 2.
In the performance evaluation as measured against the common goals, Scenario 2 still came out on top, but only by one point. The rankings showed Scenario 2 with 28 points, Scenario 4 with 27 points, Scenario 3 with 25 points and Scenario 1 finished lowest with 18 points.
Scenario 1, considered by most to be the least attractive option, is described as the “Past Trend Growth” proposal which offers no significant change to development and growth plans. Instead, it takes more of a status quo approach which government jurisdictions fear is not in the area’s best interest over the next 25 years due to Volkswagen and Wacker Chemie whose opening will have a major impact on county transportation, education, utilities and other public service systems.
“Common goals are a very important part of this process,” Dale said. Although government jurisdictions authorized the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan initiative, they did so voluntarily, he stressed.
“These jurisdictions have come together to say we need to prepare for this growth,” he stressed. “(The jurisdictions are saying) what can we do to prepare for this growth together and not individually ... ?”
The growth strategy estimates that by 2035, the area’s population will increase by as many as 30,000 to 35,000 people, 19,000 new jobs will be created and some 14,000 more housing units will be constructed.
This kind of predicted growth, accompanying a similar growth pattern in the Central Hamilton County Planning Area over the same period, could result in as many as 70,000 to 80,000 more people in the region, according to Greg Thomas, Cleveland community development director.
“We’re not responsible for what goes on in Hamilton County, but it does have a lot of impact on us,” Thomas said at Thursday’s Plan Forum. He pointed out the presence of Volkswagen will have a big impact on eastern Hamilton County and western Bradley County, and other areas. Additional supplier plants to Volkswagen, and the construction of the WACKER plant, will increase the expected congestion.
Although growth will be an economic boost in the long term, it won’t be cheap because of the impact specifically on education, transportation (road systems) and utilities. Part of the Plan Forum was dedicated to potential costs. Lucy Gallo, an economist representing national consultant AECOM Inc., presented ball-park numbers showing revenue “gaps” (property taxes, sales taxes, etc.) facing local government in meeting the growth demands.
Scenario 1 showed the largest revenue gaps for Cleveland and Bradley County governments; Scenario 3 had the next largest numbers; Scenario 4 was third highest for all government entities; and Scenario 2 had the smallest revenue gaps.
Consultants stressed their report does not reflect actual “budget numbers.” Rather, these are roughly estimated figures intended to show trends that might help government leaders in their decision-making process.
“What we’re seeing in this is we’ve got things we’ve got to mitigate the cost for in choosing one of these scenarios,” Thomas said. “No matter how we slice it, the amount of population growth will generate a tremendous amount of school cost.”
At present, the growth strategy is not showing sufficient revenue to cover the entire growth cost, Thomas said. However, consultants pointed out Cleveland and Bradley County have a broad tax base representing a healthy combination of commercial and residential revenue. Consultants Dale, Gallo and Emily Crow pointed out the diverse tax base will make future growth more manageable.
The common goals for Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County governments — on which the growth scenarios were scored — include Efficient Growth, Infrastructure Directed Growth, Economic Competitiveness, Fiscal Sustainability, Transportation Choices, Housing Choices, Natural & Cultural Resource Protection, Livability and Quality of Life, Value Existing Communities and Neighborhoods, and Intergovernmental Coordination.
Members of the Strategic Task Force, a core team overseeing the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan, were scheduled to meet this morning at Cleveland State in the Foundation Room for a follow-up briefing with the consultants.