Thoroughfare update sent back to the table

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By Karen Kennedy

The Carmel Land Use Committee met June 25 to continue its discussions about updating the city’s comprehensive plan.

The Dept. of Community Services has submitted a proposed thoroughfare update to the city’s comprehensive plan which has been before the Land Use Committee for several months now.

The thoroughfare update would allow for additional streets, roundabouts and multi-use paths to be added to existing neighborhoods and also would establish criteria for new development. Every committee member expressed concerns about the lack of detail, research and specificity in the plan, and ultimately sent it back to DOCS for further work.

“I need to understand where the numbers are coming from,” said council member Kevin “Woody” Rider. “I don’t find any justification on these plans for the lane widths that are specified on here versus our existing widths for streets and paths. I’m not saying I’m against it, I just want to know that these numbers are a true indication of what’s needed.”

Council member Eric Seidensticker concurred.

“Every council person wants multi-use paths. But we need to evaluate what makes sense, and also look at the impact on the individual property owners who would be affected by this plan,” he said.

Council person Carol Schleif, who spent numerous hours poring over the map of the plan, pointed out areas where proposed right-of-ways would cut through property owners’ yards and even houses.

“We cannot apply a blanket plan without considering our constituents,” she said.

Council member Luci Snyder added, “Yes, we all value bike paths, but are bike paths worth more than individual property owners’ rights? The Monon was easy; it was already a rail path. If it follows a utility, it’s easy to put a bike path on top of it. If it doesn’t, we have to weigh what’s in everyone’s best interests.”

“We also need to consider our business owners,” Snyder continued. “We have torn up 116th Street twice, and then added to the distress by also tearing up Keystone Parkway.”

In another matter, the committee voted unanimously against a proposed planned unit development requirements ordinance amendment, which would have made changes to developer’s requirements for submitting PUD proposals.

“What is the problem that this ordinance is trying to solve?” asked Council member Sue Finkam. “The council already has the ability to say ‘no’ to any proposed development that comes along. One size does not fit all, and this would cause our staffs to be bombarded with variance requests.”

Council member Rider added, “When developers first file they have to have a plan, and it’s hard enough for them to get financing to do that. We can’t make it harder for them to make a plan.”

Council person Carter agreed.

“As we continue to emerge from our economic crisis, we don’t want to do anything that could close out smaller, local developers or drive development away,” Carter said.

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