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Balanced Growth Planning

The Ohio Balanced Growth Program uses watersheds as the key organizing feature for land use planning. Watershed-scale land use planning, which may involve multiple local communities, has become an accepted approach in Ohio and throughout the nation because collaboration across the watershed allows coordinated, regional decision-making about how growth and conservation should be promoted by local and state policies and investments.

Watershed Balanced Growth Plans

A Watershed Balanced Growth Plan is a framework for coordinated local community decision making about how growth and conservation should be promoted by local and state policies and investments across watersheds.

The locally determined designation of Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) and Priority Development Areas (PDAs) are the main feature of Watershed Balanced Growth Plans. PCAs are locally designated areas for protection and restoration. They may be critically important ecological, recreational, heritage, agricultural, and public access areas that are significant for their contribution to water quality and general quality of life. PDAs are locally designated areas where development and/or redevelopment is to be especially encouraged in order to maximize development potential, maximize the efficient use of infrastructure, promote the revitalization of existing cities and towns, and contribute to the restoration of Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

Priority Agricultural Areas, a category that may be used at local discretion, are locally designated areas where agriculture is a significant contributor to water quality and the region’s quality of life, but designation of these areas maximizes agricultural potential and contributes to efficient use of agricultural infrastructure.

Watershed Planning Partnerships

A Watershed Planning Partnership is the organization that will assemble to prepare a Watershed Balanced Growth Plan.  A Watershed Planning Partnership should be inclusive, with representatives from local governments, planning agencies, councils of governments, special purpose authorities, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholder groups. Participation in these partnerships is voluntary.

Once formed, the Watershed Planning Partnership will undergo a comprehensive planning process that will review local development pressures and opportunities, inventory sensitive resources, and produce a Watershed Balanced Growth Plan.