• Doug Smith

Housing: What can Worthington’s infrastructure handle?

Recently an engaged resident spoke to Council about population density in other central Ohio cities compared to Worthington. The calculations were done by taking the total city population and dividing the number of acres in each city. Worthington has a population density of approximately 4.2/acre.

This is compared to the following:

Dublin 3.1

Worthington 4.2

Westerville 5.1

Upper Arlington 5.6

Columbus 6.4

Bexley 8.9

Grandview Heights 9.9

Worthington has approximately 6,000 housing units, equating to approximately 2.5 to 3 people per average unit/home.

The general discussion related to the concept that Worthington is less dense than most area communities. This point brings up the question of if Worthington should strive to add more housing to accommodate higher density population.

Let’s explore this thought for a moment by doing some math in a few different scenarios.

To be consistent with Columbus population density, Worthington would need a 52% increase in population (est. 7,000 additional residents), or an additional 2,300 housing units.

To be consistent with Bexley’s density, Worthington would need a 110% increase in population (est. 15,000 additional residents), or an additional 6,500 housing units.

So, what can our infrastructure handle?

These population increases would impact literally every neighborhood in the city. A decade ago, I asked the city engineer at the time what additional capacity our infrastructure can handle. Whereas there is no true account of the number, he suspected about a 10% increase in housing units would be comfortable without changing too much infrastructure.

In this context, infrastructure includes roads, sewage lines, water lines, and storm water systems.

With a 10% increase, the total additional housing would be approximately 600 units. These 600 units could be spread out throughout the city on quasi-identified hot sites conducive to development.

When developed harmoniously into existing neighborhoods throughout the city, 600 units could be a viable way to add housing in Worthington. As long as each development is appropriately dense and not too concentrated or impactful to its neighborhood, this could be the right direction.

I am curious to know what you think about this concept. Please share your thoughts.