ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- It's why people move here, and it's why they stay.
It's called quality of life, and while other communities boast of the same, Anderson Township has a document that keeps quality at the forefront of all their plans.
The Anderson Township 2016 Comprehensive Plan is the third incarnation since 2005 of a plan that has kept the community focused on schools, entertainment, housing, cultural activities, parks and green space, township officials say.
It's all about creating a unique identity in a metropolitan area filled with competing suburbs and housing developments, they say.
"Quality of life is what makes Anderson stand out, said Catherine DiBiagio, comprehensive plan steering committee member and Anderson Township zoning commissioner. "We have more green space than most suburbs. That and walkability is important to residents as a whole."
Township leaders also note that every part of their comprehensive plan details the value of living in Anderson, and they want it to stay that way for a long time to come.
"It's something that most cities do (create a comprehensive plan)," said Dee Stone, an Anderson Township trustee.
The difference in Anderson?
"We look at this every five or six years. Other places review their comprehensive plan every 10 or 20 years."
Stone and Paul Drury, director of township planning and zoning, said the community can see how the plan is working by looking at what the township has done in the last 16 years.
"The grander vision was to build a center of the community," Drury said. "It started with this building (Anderson Center). We wanted to create a downtown and expand for civic uses, entertainment. Improve the quality of life."
Trails have been expanded to 23 miles (most since 2009) and Anderson Towne Center shopping offers a streetscape access to most stores, said DiBiagio.
"You can park your car and walk from shop to shop and eat and drink. Residents wanted that, and more locally owned restaurants."
While the township does not, obviously, run the schools, DiBiagio said, quality education is why young people want to move to Anderson and raise their kids.
"There's always been a good, strong demand for housing," she said.
Part of life in Anderson is having nice housing options and keeping that green space in the neighborhoods. Residents want trees and nature at their back door.
"It's a quality-of-life issue to keep it green," said Stone.
Additions in the future include a donated green space as part of a single-family subdivision in 2017.
"We need to take advantage of those opportunities," said Stone. "Especially in the areas we have left (to develop)."
Anderson lacks for smaller homes for empty nesters and millennials, Stone said.
"The typical Anderson home is a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath house," said DiBiagio, who is a Realtor with Sibcy Cline's Anderson office.
Concerns were raised in the planning meetings, she said. The average age of the typical Anderson resident is going up, and there is a need to bring in millennials right after college instead of waiting until they're in their late 30s."
Developers don't always agree with the township's vision, DiBiagio said. The zoning commission has turned down a couple of projects over the years that required zoning changes that didn't fit that vision.
"The comprehensive plan is a guide for everyone," she added. "It's used by staff in every single case. We ask, how is this in keeping with and not in keeping with the comprehensive plan?"
Read the plan
The Anderson Township Comprehensive Plan, first created in 2005, is updated about every five years. You can find the plan at andersontownship.org .