Upper Arlington, OH
Comprehensive Plan, Area Plans, and UDO

Upper Arlington is a mature, first ring suburb in the Columbus region. It is well known for excellent schools, high quality residential areas, and proximity to The Ohio State University and downtown Columbus. The city, which occupies 10 square miles, is fully developed and there is virtually no way to grow via annexation. Furthermore, the city has very little land in commercial use (less than five percent) and no industrial land. The planning NEXT team was hired to lead Upper Arlington’s first comprehensive planning process in over 40 years and to create a physical plan that reflected both needs and aspirations.


Hundreds of citizens participated in the process that resulted in nearly 900 ideas, a goal for each element of the comprehensive plan, and a consensus on the future of land use after a two-day Community Choices workshop. This extensive planning effort focused on redeveloping existing commercial areas in the community with greater intensity and mix of uses – especially office use. These areas will be developed to enhance City revenues and improve the overall community appearance and quality of life. As part of the comprehensive plan update, planning NEXT prepared redevelopment plans for eight commercial areas in the City. These commercial areas – predominately retail uses only – offer the best opportunity for the City to broaden its tax base through economic redevelopment.


In less than a year after unanimously adopting the Master Plan, Upper Arlington became the first community in Ohio to adopt a unified development ordinance (UDO), which planning NEXT prepared. Upper Arlington’s UDO addresses all development regulation strategies recommended in the Master Plan including overlay zoning districts for the study areas identified within the plan, residential conservation guidelines, street and walkway connectivity standards and pedestrian orientation. It also includes commercial design standards and guidelines, zoning incentives, multi-family design standards and increased landscape and screening standards for commercial development. Upon adoption of the UDO, the City revised its zoning map and rezoned the Plan’s seven study areas (all adjacent to well established residential neighborhoods) to Planned Mixed-Use District (PMU) a higher intensity, base zoning district that replaced the previous single-use commercial districts. The PMU includes illustrated design guidelines and standards for architecture, pedestrian orientation, street connectivity, streetscape design, traffic calming, and other form-giving elements.

The Upper Arlington UDO was awarded the 2003 Focused Planning Award by the Ohio Planning Conference.

Related Projects


Project Type: comprehensive plan
Community Type: first ring suburb
Client: City of Upper Arlington
Services: comprehensive planning, area planning, urban design