Village of West Clay residents concerned about increased density


Many residents of the Village of West Clay are concerned about possible zoning changes to the area that would allow for more homes to be built and a greater variety of businessnes, all of which would mean increased density.

Representatives from Brenwick Development, the company behind the Village of West Clay, say it’s been 18 years since the original planned unit development was passed, and some aspects of the project haven’t turned out as expected. Retail businesses have resisted moving into the commercial area, and there’s been turnover for some retail properties.

Now, the developer wants to build approximately 30 loft units above retail offerings and more than 70 town houses or homes in a few different areas. They say the overall density should not exceed 2.1 units per acre with a few exceptions, such as the senior living area, the Village Center lofts and others. The new density for those areas could be more than five dwelling units per acre. The density for areas next to other adjacent subdivisions is to be 1.3 units per acre.

Neighbors spoke up at the Feb. 1 meeting of the Carmel City Council, expressing concerns about increased density. They said business parking is already packed, and the nearby schools already have many students. They said they want to protect the “small town feel” of the Village of West Clay instead of eliminating retail options, adding more town homes and allowing more businesses. Some were concerned about businesses such as fast food restaurants being added that they said wouldn’t add to the character of the neighborhood. They also said are concerned about possibly crowded amenities, such as the pool areas.

Charlotte Lippert said the increased density has already made her neighborhood less desirable.

“Our home value has declined significantly,” she said. “I think we need to study this issue and look at how we are developing the West Side.”

Tom Huston of Brenwick Development said the commercial and residential markets have changed since the Village of West Clay began. He said 10 years ago, you wouldn’t expect a grocery store at 116th Street and Spring Mill Road, but Market District is there now. He said it is important to adapt.

“We’ve been at this for 20 years,” he said. “We were young men when this started. We can’t spend another 20 years to get this to come to fruition.”

Huston noted there are 1,700 residents and seven pools that can accommodate up to 1,000 people when combined, so he said that’s more than sufficient. He also noted other projects, with approximately 1,000 people, only have one pool.

Huston said it’s a transitional use, and the only big change is converting some second-floor office space into residential units. He said everything is meant to complement existing units and serve the residents.

“We need to wrap this up, and I believe we can wrap this up while keeping with our original mission,” he said. “We need to make some changes … It’s how we think we can put this project to bed and deliver people what we promised them.”

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