After an hour of public discussion, the Carmel City Council on Nov. 6 voted 6-1 to approve a $13.5 million townhome project on the southwest corner of 116th Street and College Avenue in Carmel.
Indianapolis-based Onyx + East plans to build 59 for-sale units, which would be two- and three-bedroom townhomes, with anticipated prices between $220,000 and $300,000.
City councilor Tony Green voted against the planned unit development.
The development has come under scrutiny by neighboring residents, notably those in Applewood Estates. Letters of remonstrance state they are concerned about the height of the townhome buildings, which are three stories, the space between the development and the other neighborhoods, which is a 40-foot setback and 10- to 15-foot buffers, and the density, which is 15.5 units per acre. The number of units was previously reduced from 62 to 59 to provide less density.
“It would not add any value to the area and would not fit with the rest of the neighborhood,” Applewood Estates resident Susan Clemons wrote in a letter to the plan commission. “My husband and I would like to see some lovely single homes in this area, not condos.”
The development went through the Carmel Plan Commission process with a positive recommendation, but some commission members expressed concerns.
“I was never comfortable with the density,” commissioner Sue Westermeier said. “Regarding building heights on the west and south side, I asked the petitioner if there was any way they could be reduced to two stories. I was told that it could not be done with this project.”
In the city council’s Land Use Committee, the development received a negative recommendatio,n with Green and councilor Laura Campbell voting against it and councilor Bruce Kimball voting in favor. Campbell changed her vote to yes when it came to the full council because changes were made.
Green attempted to amend the PUD ordinance to add a restriction against using the houses as rentals, but that voted down. Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said he doesn’t think they’d be rentals because the rents would be too high.
Rider said he understands that neighboring residents want smaller,separated homes but that the market wasn’t there for that.
“Someone isn’t going to build regular residential homes there,” he said. “They aren’t going to build there. It hasn’t happened.”
Rider said if the council didn’t approve the PUD, he would expect that an office park would be suggested in the space and the same three-story heights would probably apply.
Councilor Jeff Worrell said he had a few concerns but he’s happy to see a residential development in that space.
“I see residential against residential as a huge win,” Worrell said.