Council committee split on rezoning 146th St. site for townhomes

A proposal to build 15 townhomes on 146th Street west of Rolling Hills Drive will head to the Carmel City Council after a split vote, 2-2, at the committee level. The council is expected to take a final vote on the proposal at its Aug. 3 meeting.

Estridge Development Management is seeking to rezone the 1.3 acres of land, which currently contains a single-family home and outbuildings, to a planned unit development. Each two-story townhome is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000 and include a two-car garage.

The site is surrounded by single-family homes built decades ago, but since then 146th Street has become a major east/west corridor in Hamilton County. That led developers and city planners to believe the townhomes, which are in walking distance of the Monon Trail and Clay Terrace shopping center, are a good fit.

Some neighbors don’t agree.

Terry Murphy, who lives nearby, said he is concerned that rezoning the site will lead to the same thing happening elsewhere along 146th Street.

“It opens up a can of worms, and eventually we’re going to be getting pushed out of the area,” Murphy said.

Natali Teszler, whose home faces the project site, said she is concerned about the impact of having 15 new dwellings directly across from her front yard.

“Am I just collateral damage? Because honestly, that’s how I feel,” she said. “This is my life savings, my house where I came to live.”

Committee member Tim Hannon, who joined Tony Green in voting against the project, described the proposal as a “spot rezone,” meaning it doesn’t fit with surrounding development.

“It’s very out of character in every direction,” he said. “Because the conditional fit gets even easier once a property like this goes in, (it becomes more likely) that adjacent properties would follow as well. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong per se, but I think it’s a legitimate concern of the neighbors that this is an island that could develop into other areas as well. Whether that’s good or bad is up to the eye of the beholder.”

Carmel’s Dept. of Community Services supports the project, in part because of the lack of development of single-family homes in recent years. Carmel Planning Administrator Alexia Lopez said that two of the nearby parcels platted with the original neighborhood have remained vacant.

“(146th Street) is a busy road,” Lopez said. “It may not be the best use to have single-family homes directly abutting this four-lane road.”

Some residents expressed concerns about the project leading to increased traffic, but developers said their research showed that only five cars from the development are expected to attempt to turn left on 146th Street from Rolling Hill Drive during the peak hour. City Engineer Jeremy Kashman said the project “doesn’t give me any traffic concerns.”

Committee members Kevin “Woody” Rider and Adam Aasen questioned the developer about drainage, parking and other issues before voting to support the project. Rider assured nearby residents that the city would not use eminent domain to redevelop the area.

The Carmel City Council is expected to discuss the rezoning request at its Aug. 3 meeting. Although the matter didn’t advance out of committee, the council president can bring it before the full council for discussion and a vote.