Old Town development proposal raises concern about traffic impact at 136th St., Keystone roundabout

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As the Carmel City Council considers rezoning 60 acres northeast of Keystone Parkway and 136th Street for new homes and multi-family units, neighbors and councilors alike are concerned about the potential traffic impact on the nearby intersection.

Carmel-based Old Town Companies is proposing approximately 100 single-family homes and 100 townhomes/condos on the parcel, which also contains a historic house that will be preserved. The city council held a public hearing on the project at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Developers are working with A&F Engineering to design an intersection at the neighborhood entrance that will have the least amount of impact on the 136th Street and Keystone Parkway roundabout, which is immediately west of the development and is the only one in Carmel controlled by a light system during peak hours.    

Babette Miller, a resident of the nearby Smokey Ridge neighborhood, said that with 12 acres on the south side of 136th Street directly across from the proposed neighborhood also for sale, she’s concerned about the amount of development that could potentially occur in a “really tiny area.” The southern parcel is listed for $1.25 million and is described on the Century 21 website as a “development opportunity” with a maximum density of 3.9 lots per acre.

“(Keystone Parkway and 136th Street) is a flawed intersection to begin with for the amount of traffic that’s there. It does impact quality of life, although not enough you’re going to move,” Miller said. “I’m asking you to be a visionary to figure out this traffic roundabout.”

Matt Brown of A&F Engineering said at the meeting that a standalone roundabout or extension of the existing roundabout at Keystone Parkway and 136th Street to line up with the neighborhood entrance are the most likely solutions. He said a two-way stop is not a viable option because it would likely stack vehicles into the Keystone roundabout when drivers are waiting to turn left into the neighborhood.

“That’s the last thing we wanted,” he said.

City Engineer Jeremy Kashman stated in an email Feb. 6 the final roundabout design will be selected as the project continues the development process.

“As of now there is only a conceptual layout that has been completed, and once they start actually designing the roundabout there can be decisions made based upon more specific traffic information,” Kashman stated.

Brown said the proposed development “isn’t a real heavy traffic generator.” A&F Engineering estimates that the Old Town project would lead to 34 additional vehicles entering and 109 vehicles exiting the development during the morning peak traffic hour, with 113 additional vehicles entering and 68 exiting it during the afternoon peak hour. A traffic study has not yet been conducted.

Kashman said the city will consider several factors as it works with developers to determine the best design for traffic flow in the area.

“As new projects come in, we are always working to ensure that we leave a positive impact on the community, and this development is no different,” Kashman stated. “With this proposed project as well as the completion of the Lowe’s Way ramp there will be some changes in the traffic pattern, so those are all things we will be taking into account as we work through the details.”

Several councilors said they would like to see more information on how the proposed development would affect traffic and the nearby intersection. The council sent the matter to the Land Use and Special Studies committee, which has not announced a meeting date.

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