Edinburgh council considers rezone for long-vacant U.S. 31 property

EDINBURGH — For decades, an almost 18-acre plot of land northeast of State Road 252’s intersection with U.S. 31 in Edinburgh sat vacant.

That could soon change with a rezone request from Indianapolis-based MLS partners to turn the land into a mixed-use property. Plans from the developer would split the land into 10 lots for commercial and residential uses. Five large lots would be used for commercial spaces, ranging in size from about one to 6.6 acres. Five smaller lots, each no less than 0.2 acres each, would be reserved for residential properties, according to town documents.

The proposal is now before the Edinburgh Town Council, which is considering the developer’s request to rezone six areas on the plot to various zoning classifications. Prior to coming to the council, the proposal received a unanimous favorable recommendation from the planning commission.

The request asks for two areas to change from medium-low density residential, or R-3, to high-density residence, or R-6. A third area would go from R-3 to general business, a fourth from roadside business to general business, the fifth area would go from roadside business and R-3 to general business, and the final would go from R-3 to roadside business, according to town documents.

Initial illustrations for the property show the largest area of land directly east of U.S. 31 and north of State Road 252 reserved for commercial use to fit as many as four general businesses and one roadside business.

Five lots on the southeast corner of the property near State Road 252 and County Road 650 East would be rezoned R-6 for high-density residential properties. Those properties could either be single-family, two-family or multi-family residences, but must fit the setback requirements of the 0.2 acre lots, said Wade Watson said, town planning director and interim town manager.

A 2.2-acre area on the property’s northeast corner is labeled “non-buildable common area” on the preliminary plans and would be a detention basin to mitigate any potential flood risk.

The specific businesses, as well as the type of residences to be built on the land won’t be determined until after the town council approves the rezone and developers can submit proposals, nor will any construction be done on the land in the form of speculative buildings, Watson said. Any construction projects must be approved by the plan commission, he said.

The plot of land is nearby eight adjacent existing properties lining County Road 650 East. All are single-family homes and one building houses four families, he said.

These 17.7 acres were originally platted into unincorporated Johnson County as the Heckman Village Subdivision in 1952 before being incorporated into Edinburgh in 1978. For decades, however, the land remained largely undeveloped because of concerns of it being on a floodplain. But an elevation survey showed asphalt fillings installed sometime in the 1990s raised the base elevation of the land above floodplain level, according to an Edinburgh staff report.

Town officials see the empty space as an opportunity for both residential and commercial growth on the north side of town. Right now most of the commercial areas outside of downtown are near the Indiana Premium Outlets or further south on U.S. 31.

The land represents an opportunity to attract new businesses to Edinburgh, said Wade Watson, planning director and interim town manager.

“What we envision is general businesses, could be fast-food or (something else). Zoning standards allow banking, professional offices, roadside business which could be self-storage units or something of that nature,” he said. “It puts commercial property on the north side of the community we don’t have at this point.”

The Edinburgh Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed rezone during its next meeting Jan. 23. Council members can then approve the rezone as early as that meeting. But they will likely wait until the next meeting in February for the final approval, Watson said.