Carmel committee, residents split on plans to add townhomes, commercial node to Jackson’s Grant neighborhood

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A proposal to add townhomes and a commercial node to the Jackson’s Grant neighborhood is heading back to the Carmel City Council after a tie vote Aug. 5 at the committee level.

Land Use and Special Studies Committee members and city councilors Adam Aasen and Kevin “Woody” Rider voted in favor of the project, with Tony Green and Tim Hannon voting against it.

Republic Development is requesting a rezone of 20 acres on the northwest corner of 116th Street and Spring Mill Road for a mixed-use development that would include single-family homes, townhomes and a commercial node.

Jackson’s Grant residents have expressed mixed feelings about the proposal. Several residents spoke against the project at the committee meeting.

Resident Dan Wagner said the project is too dense. He said he was given assurances when he built his home that the city would not add commercial development west of Spring Mill Road.

“If we had been told there was going to be commercial right there, we wouldn’t have built,” he said.

Jackson’s Grant resident Roy Stecker said the majority of his neighbors support the project and that he bought his home anticipating a retail node would eventually be added to the neighborhood.

“Everyone keeps trying to make (the developers) out as liars, but they’ve been beyond honest with everybody through the entire process,” Stecker said. “If you walk around my neighborhood and ask the people with small kids who don’t have time to come to (meetings) like this, they want this.”

Hannon said he is not in favor of the project with the commercial node because of the remonstrance he’s heard from many residents who live near it. If the node is removed, developers can replace it with 18 townhomes.

“If I lived there, I might want an ice cream shop or something, but I don’t live there, so I have to go by their input,” Hannon said.

Rider said it is a “dangerous level of logic” to base a vote for a project primarily on remonstrance from residents who live right next to it. He said he’s seen several cases where residents were adamantly opposed to a nearby project but came to use and enjoy it once it was built.

“If we use that logic, probably three-fourths of the projects I’ve voted on would not exist,” Rider said. “I think that would be a shame.”

Councilors asked the developers to put several of their commitments in writing, including clearly defining what types of businesses will be permitted in the commercial node and setting a completion date for an amenity center, before the city council takes a vote.

The project received a 5-4 negative recommendation from the Carmel Plan Commission. The full city council is expected to have a final vote on the proposal at its Aug. 17 meeting.


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