Laying out the future: Fishers updates guide for long-term development of land, parks

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The City of Fishers is nearing completion of its quinquennial update of the Fishers 2040 plan, a guiding document to maximize growth areas for the city in the next two decades. City officials are now seeking public feedback on the changes before sending a final version to the city council for a vote.

“The purpose of this plan is to ensure fiscal sustainability as our community transitions from a rapidly growing to a stable population by 2040,” said Megan Schaefer, City of Fishers director of planning and zoning.

The 2040 plan was adopted in June 2016 and is updated every five years. Some projects identified in the original version have already been completed, which is factored into the update.

The city has divided the 119-page plan into four areas: future land use, housing and neighborhoods, transportation and parks. View the plan at fishers.in.us/DocumentCenter/View/26138/Fishers-2040—Full-Plan.

Future Land Use

Approximately five years ago, the city conducted a survey of all available land in Fishers. Most parcels were designated for various uses, but planners were undecided about a few sites. Those 11 sites have been addressed in the 2021 update.

“These were areas that we may have had a bit of a concept for in 2016 as far as land uses we wanted there, but at the time, we thought we needed to see how things played out,” said Andrew Magee, a planner for the City of Fishers. “Our focus this time was going through these 11 areas and figuring out what we think is most appropriate for them.”

The new designations, which are guides and nonbinding, are:

  • Northwest corner of Allisonville Road and 96th Street, 84 acres: Divided into three categories: open space, mixed residential space and neighborhood mixed use.
  • Lantern Road Corridor, 52 acres: Mostly developed at present but has been designated for mostly residential use, duplexes, single-family homes and other neighborhood settings.
  • Northeast Corner of 131st Street and Brooks School Road, 125 acres: Core residential and neighborhood mixed use. The area is fully developed today. “We think redevelopment on a grand scale in this area is pretty unlikely,” Magee said.
  • Northwest corner of E 116th Street and Hoosier Road, 78 acres:  Core residential and open park space. Almost geographically in the middle of the city, much thought was given to the space. “We definitely wanted to preserve a lot of this space for park space,” Magee said.
  • Indiana 37 corridor, 614 acres: “There’s a lot of moving parts there,” Magee said. Many different designations –residential, parks and open space, flex employment centers, neighborhood service centers and employment node, such as large office buildings.
  • Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport property, 216 acres: Flex employment space.
  • 126th Street corridor, 153 acres: Flex employment space with a greenway buffer.
  • 136th Street corridor, 535 acres. Flex employment, suburban residential, core residential and a greenway buffer.
  • Southeastern Parkway and Atlantic Road, 44 acres: Neighborhood service center – space intended for the existing residents of the area — and suburban residential.
  • Northeast corner 116th Street and Interstate 69, 75 acres: Regional mixed use, currently developed and home to Top Golf and Fishers District. The area gravitated toward mixed use development on its own.
  • 116th Street and White River, 9 acres: Open space and parks.

Housing and neighborhoods

Fishers average age (32.8) is younger than the statewide median age (37.7). The population is expected to rise by 17.8 percent by 2040 to an estimate of 130,000 residents, with an increasing number of elderly residents.

The city settled on two main goals in this area: Promoting housing diversity, affordable accommodations and the needs of a changing demographic, and promoting the revitalization and upkeep of existing neighborhoods.

  • Housing Diversity: The city wants to promote different types of residences targeting different age demographics in the same neighborhoods. “That way you can stay in the City of Fishers for your entire life rather than having to move to different places,” City Planner Jessie Boshell said.
  • Support existing neighborhoods: One of the aspects that the city is considering is forming a landlord registry. “The idea behind the landlord registry is to be utilized to oversee property conditions, to make sure that rental properties are being properly maintained as well as building that relationship with the landlords to provide assistance when needed,” Boshell said.

Transportation

The updated 2040 plan adds a “thoroughfare plan” to update the roads in Fishers.

“We typically live our daily lives in this network and never realize it,” Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Ross Hilleary said.

With an eye toward future growth, several roads will be widened for anticipated capacity increases. Hilleary said that the ability to widen the roads might not require expanding into properties but may be done by creatively modifying surfaces on the existing space.

Parks

Future parks and potential designs have been added to the 2040 plan. Fishers has more than 770 acres of park land, but planners do not expect it to be sufficient for the future.

“As the population grows, we will want to maintain our current population to park land ratio,” Schaefer said. “So, we will need to acquire additional park land.”

Some areas of focus are a dog park, added greenspace in north central Fishers, land off the Nickel Plate Trail for pocket parks and an indoor community recreation center. Another idea is a tranquility park to promote mental health and wellness.

The city wants to link the parks and trails as much as possible.

“We want to prioritize gaps in the sidewalks to create an overall trail loop connecting our parks,” Schaefer said. “We would really like all our parks linked up through a sidewalk system, but also we are looking at waterway connections between our parks for canoeing and kayaking opportunities.”

Public Involvement in Fishers 2040 Plan

The Fishers Plan Commission will hold an in-person public hearing at 6 p.m. June 2 at City Hall to provide an opportunity for members of the public to comment on the updated 2040 plan.

The scheduled date for adoption of the plan is at the June 21 city council meeting. Whether the 2040 Plan is adopted at the meeting depends on how the public hearing proceeds during the June 2 meeting.


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