Next for project: Vote by Council

Commissioners give favorable recommendation

Columbus City Council will consider a request next month to rezone and annex 151 acres northwest of the city to allow a developer to build more than 300 homes.

Arbor Investments, based in Indianapolis, has received a favorable recommendation from Columbus Plan Commission members for its proposed subdivision Abbey Place, between Indianapolis Road and Interstate 65 near the Princeton Park subdivision.

Commission members agreed last week to forward their recommendation to the council, which will consider the developer’s requests at 6 p.m. May 16 at Columbus City Hall.

The proposal has been pending since last fall, when Arbor brought the project to city officials and nearby residents began raising concerns about increased traffic congestion in the area caused by the addition of more housing.

The neighbors first approached the city in November with their concerns, which led Arbor developer Paul Claire to agree to conduct a traffic study, which was presented to the plan commission in February.

However, the results of that study were questioned by neighbors who pointed out it was done when Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. students were on winter break.

Results of a second traffic study were presented Wednesday to the plan commission by Steven Fehribach, president of Indianapolis-based A&F Engineering, and Don Chesney, vice president of operations for Arbor Homes.

The second study evaluated current traffic conditions in the area, different scenarios based on traffic from the proposed development, in addition to the effect of motorists who may use Lowell Road as a detour around the railroad tracks at the State Road 46 and State Road 11 interchange on Columbus’ west side.

The study recommended that the Indiana Department of Transportation consider installing a traffic signal at Lowell Road and U.S. 31 if a proposed railroad overpass is not constructed at State Road 46 and State Road 11.

It also recommended two alternatives for the intersection of County Road 200W and Middle Access Drive — either a two-way stop or a single-lane roundabout. Chesney said Arbor Investments has already decided to install the roundabout.

Jeff Beck, an attorney representing Princeton Park homeowners, brought up the train issue and its ramifications for Lowell Road. Princeton Park subdivision has 171 lots and people who live there have their own neighborhood association.

An impact study performed by city consultant American StructurePoint shows that the city will have as many as 22 trains a day traveling through the State Route 46 intersection with State Road 11, 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 detouring around the railroad to the north.

Beck said it is uncertain whether any improvements would be made to deal with an expected increase in train traffic next year.

“We think improvements will be made on (State Road) 46 to address train traffic, but that’s not a done deal,” Beck said.

Pat Ulm, who lives on Heathrow Drive, said the Lowell Road area near the subdivision is already crowded with traffic from the Arbor’s at Waters Edge apartment complex and the Princeton Park homes.

“It seems to me to be a saturation of the area,” Ulm said.

Nancy Burchfield, who lives in the Tudor addition neighborhood near Indianapolis Road, also said she thinks the addition of the subdivision will add to more traffic problems, especially on County Road 150W and Lowell Road.

Traffic often backs up at Lowell Road’s intersection with U.S. 31, Burchfield said, and she said she fears the backups will get worse if the new subdivision is built.

What's next

Columbus City Council will consider the annexation and rezoning requests from Arbor Investments during its 6 p.m. meeting May 16 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