Firm plans second traffic study to appease foes

An Indianapolis developer seeking to build more than 300 single-family homes northwest of Columbus plans is planning a second traffic study to address concerns from nearby residents.

Arbor Investments wants the city to annex 151 acres in Columbus Township for its proposed subdivision, Abbey Place, between Indianapolis Road and Interstate 65 near the Princeton Park subdivision. The company plans to develop 312 lots, but nearby homeowners are worried about traffic congestion.

Arbor Investments also wants to rezone nearly 97 acres to a different residential single-family designation.

Nearby neighbors first raised concerns about traffic when the company sought approval for the project in November and Paul Claire, Arbor project developer, agreed to do a traffic study of the area, which wasn’t completed in time for the December Columbus Plan Commission meeting.

The first traffic study was discussed Thursday night at the February plan commission meeting, as about 50 people listened to the details. Claire was joined by Steven Fehribach, president of Indianapolis-based A&F Engineering, to talk about the company’s first traffic study, which was conducted Dec. 20-21.

Fehribach said the study counted traffic on both sides of Lowell Road and was done through video at different access points. However, many audience members questioned whether the study was indicative of the amount of traffic going through the area on a daily basis.

Jeff Beck, an attorney representing the Princeton Park subdivision, said students in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. were on winter break when the traffic study was performed. He was one of more than a dozen people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I’m concerned we don’t have a real good count of what went through there,” Beck said.

Commission member Mike Ellison said he also had concerns about the timing of the initial study, especially when people could have been out of town for the holidays.

Ellison said additional traffic caused by an increased number of trains coming through Columbus starting next year is also important to consider.

An impact study performed by American StructurePoint shows that the city will have as many as 22 trains a day traveling through the State Road 46 intersection with State Road 11 on Columbus’ west side, compared to eight now, and the trains’ length will be longer, from 5,100 feet now to 7,500 feet in the future.

City and county officials are working on a plan to improve Lowell Road to accommodate more west-side traffic, which would use the road to detour around the railroad crossing on State Road 46 and allow motorists to get to National Road without interruption.

Jeff Bergman, city-county planning director, said his recommendation was to have another traffic study performed that focuses on some alternative street designs to address neighbors’ concerns, which Claire and Fehribach agreed to do.

They will come back to the commission during its April 12 meeting with the second traffic study, they said.

After the meeting, Bob Kasting, Princeton Park Homeowners Association president, said he understands that developers have a right to build, but he doesn’t want it to infringe on the neighborhood.

Kasting also said he plans on returning to the April 12 meeting to hear more details.

What's next

The Columbus Plan Commission will reconsider the Arbor Investment development project again during its 4 p.m. meeting April 12 at Columbus City Hall.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com