Frequently Asked Questions

Updated November 2017

Q: What is insight2050?
A:
 Insight2050 is an effort to prepare Central Ohio for future growth. Insight2050 is not a regional plan but rather a tool that provides key data to decision makers to help inform their choices. It has generated objective metrics to help inform local decision making, and is now providing communities in Franklin County and the six surrounding counties with tools, best-practices guides, and other resources – including a Technical Assistance program and an insight2050 Academy to help civic and business leaders, elected and appointed officials, and residents understand the challenges and opportunities the region faces.

It is a project led by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), Columbus 2020, and the Columbus District Council of the Urban Land Institute, and guided by a Project Team and Steering Committee. Calthorpe Associates, a California-based planning firm led by New Urbanist pioneer Peter Calthorpe, was a consultant and developer of the modeling tools used in insight2050.

Over 30 people volunteered to be part of a steering committee that advised on the project for the duration of the analysis phase (Phase I).

Today, an eight-member Executive Committee and a 20-member Communications Committee, prioritize the ongoing work of the initiative.

Q: Why insight2050?
A:
 Central Ohio is projected to grow by up to a million people by 2050. Insight2050 deals with the questions related to that growth, such as:

  • How will our communities be able to accommodate that growth?
    • How will that growth differ from the regional growth of the last 30 years?
    • How do patterns of growth affect the cost of providing infrastructure and other services to our residents and businesses?

Land use patterns reflect many separate local decision-making processes. The objective metrics generated by insight2050 (see RapidFire box) can provide additional insights to these public and private decision makers while also enabling conversations related to the region’s future competitiveness, sustainability, and quality of life.

Q: What’s the geographic scope of insight2050? What’s meant by “Central Ohio?”
A:
 Insight2050 covers Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union counties. This seven-county area is larger than the Columbus Urbanized Area, as designated by the US Census Bureau, but smaller than the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area or the Columbus Region as defined by Columbus 2020. MORPC’s travel demand model covers all or part of these seven counties, which helps feed data assumptions necessary for the project. Full counties are also the smallest level of geography for which the state projects population growth, another necessary input for the project.

Q: How will insight2050’s findings and scenarios be implemented in Central Ohio communities?    

A: It is important to note insight2050 is not a regional plan. If a preferred scenario is selected as part of this project, it can serve as guidance to local communities to change their land use plans. Insight2050‘s Phase I data and scenarios have been introduced to public and private decision-makers and civic leaders in communities throughout the seven-county area. Some have already made changes in policies and practices. Some have already approved developments that serve as models for compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods that meet the needs of residents of different generations. The insight2050 partners continue to provide outreach, guidance, resources, and engagement tools to assist Central Ohio communities to prepare for the region’s growth.

The getinsight2050.org website is frequently updated to include more examples of best practices, tools, guides, and studies and reports from around the country about innovative ways to address affordable housing, transit options, parking-related issues and other challenges. In addition ULI Columbus’ Your Competitive Future and MORPC’s Technical Assistance Program provide options for Central Ohio communities seeking direct staff support and guidance on development plans and projects.

Q: What kinds of tools does insight2050 have to help my community adapt to these changes?
A:
 http://getinsight2050.org/resources/tools/ is a compendium of local, regional, and national materials designed to give communities examples of developments that address the kinds of challenges Central Ohio faces; guidelines on how ensure community engagement in meeting the challenges; booklets that explain the history of and reasons for planning and zoning, as well as the aesthetics and economics of compact development; zoning models that build on the existing fabric of communities; and a variety of other booklets, reports and guides.

The ever-growing collections of tools are broken into six categories:

  • Transportation Planning
  • Land Use / Development
  • Policies and Ordinances
  • Real Estate Development
  • Demographics
  • Communications

Q: What kinds of hands-on Technical Assistance does insight2050 have to help my community?

A: MORPC initiated a Technical Assistance Program related to insight2050 and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan in Fall 2017.  The program is designed to assist eligible member communities with specific planning services related to projects that support consideration of transportation in land use planning. Communities are selected through a competitive application process to receive MORPC staff assistance toward their projects. More information is available at www.morpc.org.

Your Competitive Future, a program led by ULI Columbus, provides leadership from volunteer real estate development professionals working in tandem with community decision-makers to focus on the current challenges of development and redevelopment. Communities may contact ULI Columbus to be considered for this assistance.

In addition insight2050 has an extensive library of resources and best practices in development from across the country.

Q: What is the insight2050 Academy?
A:
 In Fall 2016, the insight2050 partners convened the first insight2050 Academy, bringing together leaders from across Central Ohio. The rigorous multi-week program engages elected and appointed officials, decision-makers, practitioners, and other community leaders in important conversations about Central Ohio’s growing population and changing development preferences. Topics include demographics & trends, communication strategies for effective resident conversations, planning & zoning, economic development, and development financing.

The purpose is to ensure that communities and their decision-makers understand the changes that are coming to the region and are prepared to plan ways to accommodate those changes in ways that fit best for them. The insight2050 Academy takes place two times each year, meeting in Spring and Fall.

Q: I’ve been hearing about a Regional Corridor Analysis. What is that? And how does it relate to insight2050?
A:
 MORPC, the City of Columbus, Central Ohio Transit Authority, ULI Columbus, and other Central Ohio agencies, cities and organizations –– have identified five key regional transportation corridors for detailed study. They are important not only for moving people and goods to important commercial and activity centers throughout the region, but also as corridors for strategic growth and development.

There are East, West, Southeast, Northeast and Northwest corridors, and the proposed analyses will consider a broad range of high-capacity transit options and technologies – and how they relate to current development patterns, as well as the more-intensified development patterns identified in insight2050.

The project began November 30, 2017. More information is available at www.morpc.org.

Q: How will insight2050 deal with issues relating to education, race, crime, affordable housing, disenfranchisement, public health, job training, job accessibility, transit options, parking, and other issues that go beyond land use discussions?
A:
 The project team and steering committee may choose to address some of these issues through policy and program recommendations. However, the analysis behind insight2050 relies on the RapidFire model, developed by project consultants Calthorpe Associates.

  • Air Pollutant and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    • Fuel use and cost • Building energy use and cost
    • Water use and cost
    • Land consumption
    • Fiscal impacts on local governments (cities, villages, and townships)
    • City revenues
    • Public health

Indirectly, the ability of communities, institutions, and individuals to deal with these other issues may relate to the projected impacts from the RapidFire model. For example, higher government fiscal impacts may limit the revenue available to address these issues; higher household costs may have a disproportionate impact on the individuals affected by these issues.

These are among topics and challenges that are discussed by participants in insight2050 Academy sessions, and raised through blog posts on the getinsight2050 News & Events page. Through the Academy and the website, the project team will share best practices from throughout Central Ohio and across the country.

Q: What is the basis for the future growth scenarios?
A:
 The project team relied on input from the steering committee to shape the future growth scenarios. It also employed a vast amount of research on past trends and other market research into the demographic projections for the study area. The scenarios are intended to illustrate the differing impacts of varying future growth patterns, and are not meant to serve as a prescriptive vision or plan for the region.

Q: Central Ohio has a lot of unique neighborhoods. Does insight2050 consider these differences in its model?
A:
While these place types are carefully calibrated to the development conditions of the Columbus region, they are not meant to convey the intricate variations of the unique neighborhoods across the region. The place types capture general land patterns and their impacts and thus allow for a more informed and broader regional understanding of the impacts of future growth and development. insight2050’s tools, public outreach, case studies, and other resources are increasingly focused on how particular communities and neighborhoods can use the scenario studies.

Q: Will there be future phases of insight2050?
A:
 Future phases of insight2050 may seek to develop additional, more localized tools for local communities to use within their own jurisdictions to help measure the relative impacts of their future growth. These future phases are subject to the interest and participation of communities and businesses throughout the region, and would require additional funding commitments.

Q: How are the rural areas considered?
A:
 As with neighborhoods, rural areas are carefully calibrated to the development conditions of the Columbus region, but are not meant to convey the intricate variations of the unique neighborhoods across the region. The place types capture general land patterns and their impacts and thus allow for a more informed and broader regional understanding of the impacts of future growth and development. The model has been customized to accommodate the different land use patterns and government fiscal structures in unincorporated areas, which would include most rural areas. The project team has customized the characteristics of and assumptions behind the place types in unincorporated areas to account for lower densities and different impacts found there.

Q: Will insight2050 have an impact on the allocation of MORPC’s federal transportation funds?
A:
 It is important to note that insight2050 is not a regional plan. If a preferred scenario is selected as part of this project, it can serve as guidance to local communities to change their land use plans and also provide additional input into the land use allocation model MORPC uses to distribute new growth. MORPC will continue to rely on local existing/future land use plans and ensure that the future land use data fed into the travel demand model for estimating future traffic volumes used in the development of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan is vetted by the communities, as they always have been.

Q: Who is involved in this initiative besides the project partners?
A:
 Over 30 people volunteered to be part of a steering committee that advised on the project for the duration of the analysis phase (Phase I). The group of public and private stakeholders represented local government, business, industry, and communities – as well as various interests and disciplines affected by land uses, including: transportation, housing, the environment, agriculture, and health. Yaromir Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner + Associates, served as Chair of the project’s steering committee. He is Chair of the Columbus District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a resident of New Albany, and is the developer behind mixed use destinations, such as Easton Town Center.

Today, an eight-member Executive Committee and a 20-member Communications Committee –  each made up of volunteers from public and private fields – prioritize the ongoing work of the initiative.  Steiner continues in the capacity of Chair of the Executive Committee.

 Q: How is this effort funded? Why are the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Columbus 2020 helping to fund the project?
A:
 MORPC’s Transportation Policy Committee serves as the area’s federally recognized Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). In that role, MORPC must carry out a continuous, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process. Through that process, MORPC allocates federal transportation funding designated for the region. Since land use has a direct impact on transportation, the committee allocated a portion of this funding for further study, planning, and tools related to regional development. Use of this funding for insight2050 required a local match, which came through Columbus 2020 and ULI Columbus (see Funding & Partners). Columbus 2020 serves as the region’s economic development organization that, along with others, continues to leverage the strengths of the Columbus Region to add jobs and attract and retain a talented workforce. Projects like insight2050 will help the region’s leaders understand, evaluate, and prepare for the impacts of future growth and development so that the region can develop the capacity to remain attractive for employers and workforce talent. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is an international non-profit research and education organization supported by its members. Representing the entire spectrum of land use and real estate development disciplines working in private enterprise and public service. In 2012, the ULI Columbus District Council published Columbus 2050: Creating Blueprints for Change. Through their participation in insight2050, the local District Council seeks to build on the Columbus 2050 report to provide more detailed data and metrics for the region.

Q: How does the work relate back to the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan that MORPC is conducting?
A:
 MORPC’s Transportation Policy Committee serves as the area’s federally recognized Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). One of their responsibilities is to update and adopt a Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) every four years. The plan prioritizes short and long range strategies and projects, covering at least 20 years. In order to anticipate future transportation needs, the plan must consider the impact of future growth and development on regional travel. MORPC uses a model to allocate state population projections and new jobs throughout the region based on local land use plans. The RapidFire model does not project where development will or will not occur by 2050. It projects the impacts of scenarios that are made of varying proportions of different growth patterns (such as urban infill or standard suburban). If a preferred scenario is selected as part of this project, it can serve as guidance to local communities to change their land use plans and also provide additional input into the land use allocation model MORPC uses to distribute new growth. MORPC will continue to rely on local existing/future land use plans and ensure that the future land use data fed into the travel demand model for estimating future traffic volumes used in the development of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan is vetted by the communities, as they always have been.