Public offers input on Bath Comprehensive Plan

by Laura Bednar

The Bath Comprehensive Plan Committee, in conjunction with consulting firm Envision Group, held an open house to garner resident feedback on township planning and zoning. The open house was held in late April at Bath Elementary and was one of three public forums to be held this year.

Envision representative Ryan Smalley gave an overview of the comprehensive plan. It is a 10-15-year blueprint that guides decision-making, establishes goals, reviews existing conditions, engages the public and develops a strategy to implement recommendations.

“The plan is just a series of recommendations,” said Smalley. “It is up to the township to implement some or most of the recommendations.”

According to Smalley, recommendations can include infrastructure improvements, economic development strategies, future land uses, zoning code revisions and broad policy statements.

The comprehensive plan review committee consists of 15 community members who will regularly meet with Envision for the rest of the year. Smalley explained each phase of review starting with identifying rural and development area limits. This includes defining where the “Keep Bath Rural” theme begins and ends and identifying areas of the township vulnerable to development pressure.

The second phase is taking inventory of existing conditions throughout Bath, determining how people visit focus areas in the township and the physical condition of those areas. Planning Director/Zoning Inspector William Funk previously noted the five focus areas: North Cleveland Massillon and Hammonds Corners, Ghent Hamlet, I-77/Ghent Interchange corridor, Springside Drive/Montrose and state Route 18 corridor.

The third phase delineates the characteristics of Bath’s focus areas, updates the future land use map and develops recommendations for focus areas and Bath in general. The final phase is implementation, under which Smalley said the recommended plan will be presented online for residents to easily understand.

“The theme of ‘Keep Bath Rural’ was heard loud and clear,” he said. “That is our vision statement.”

Residents were asked to share thoughts on five topics:

  • Do you think the township has a variety of housing options?
  • What are Bath’s strengths, opportunities, aspirations and realities (S.O.A.R.)?
  • What parks and recreation enhancements would you like to see?
  • Would you support denser residential uses along the Medina line or state Route 18 corridors?
  • Where along the Cleveland-Massillon Road corridor would you like to see development?

Attendees added pins or post-it notes to boards displaying each of the topics. A majority of people thought Bath had adequate housing options. Those who thought it didn’t supported step in/down housing and accessory dwellings (in-law suites) as desired additions.

Under the S.O.A.R. board, people noted Bath’s strengths as safety and security, no income tax, strong community involvement and a rural feel. Opportunities listed were developing more mixed-use spaces, connection of parks by the roadway bike paths and upgrading business areas to be more attractive and accessible.

Some aspirations listed were affordable homes for first-time homeowners, smaller homes for seniors and ensuring infrastructure and technology upgrades come with updated policies. Under realities, multiple people wrote that Bath should continue to stress low development. People also wrote that Bath has no community gathering spaces and needs to fill vacant Montrose storefronts.

Parks and recreation was divided into “passive” and “active” enhancements residents wanted. The popular passive choices were nature trails, a gathering space, nature preserve and amphitheater. Under active, the popular choices were multi-use paths, an outdoor pool, mountain biking and winter activities. One person suggested a dog park.

When asked if people supported denser residential use along Medina Line or state Route 18, the answer was an overwhelming “no” to both roads.

On the map of the Cleveland-Massillon Road Corridor, there were clusters of pins for development near Everett Road and Ghent Road. Many others had no interest in more development along the corridor.

Smalley said there will be another public meeting in August.