Rezone for apartments near Greenwood airport questioned

A controversial rezone of a property for a potential apartment complex just east of Greenwood’s airport was forwarded to the city council Monday night.

Indianapolis-based Muesing Management Company came before the Greenwood Advisory Plan Commission Monday night requesting to rezone approximately 16 acres of farmland for a potential five-building apartment complex with approximately 342 units. The land, at 374 North Emerson Avenue, is bordered to the west by Indy South Greenwood Airport, and is currently zoned industrial large.

The developer is planning to have 153 one-bedroom apartments and 189 two-bedroom apartments at the complex. Additionally, the complex is planned to have a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center and dog park, according to city documents.

There is a need for this type of housing in Greenwood. Over 98% of apartments in the city are full, said Tom Vander Luitgaren, a Muesing representative.

“(Developers) come to Greenwood because there’s a need, and these 16 acres can fill a need,” he said.

The proposed rezoning will provide a buffer between the industrial buildings to the north and the homes to the south, Luitgaren said.

Nearby residents and several members of the plan commission had several concerns about the project.

Dwight Howard, who lives on Emerson Avenue, asked the commission to deny the rezone because he was concerned about the traffic in the area and about the development lowering nearby property values.

“I don’t want to see Emerson Avenue turn into a Smith Valley Road, Main Street or a County Line Road,” Howard said.

A $16,000 traffic study is underway to determine how the complex would affect traffic on Emerson Avenue and to determine if additional lanes should be added. The study is expected to be completed later this year, Luitgaren said.

Howard was one of several residents who voiced their concerns about traffic. Other residents said they were concerned about whether building’s height would fit the neighborhood’s aesthetic and how it would affect the airport.

“I can understand adding single-family homes, or condos or double units — that wouldn’t be so obtrusive — but a four-story building behind my house that pretty much (takes) away any privacy I have,” said Tim Fox, a local resident.

Karla Sherfick, a resident who lives in the subdivision south of the proposed complex, told the board she was concerned about having tall buildings near the airport.

The buildings will not be in the airport’s setback area and actually go farther back than the minimum distance required. They also set the buildings farther back from the property — 93 feet — which is more than what the city required, Luitgaren said.

“We don’t have to set it back. We did because we’re trying to be good neighbors,” he said.

Plan commission and city council member Bob Dine asked Luitgaren about the airport’s thoughts on the development and whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has any concerns. Luitgaren said he has not heard anything from the airport which says the complex would not work on the site.

The rezoning also has several commitments, which the developer would be required to follow. One key commitment is approval from the FAA. Without that, the development could move forward, said Daniel Johnston, city engineer.

FAA approval, however, will take several months. In the meantime, the city would go through its usual planning and engineering processes, with the primary plat approval for the development coming before the commission again in the future, he said.

Building a four-story building with FAA approval is possible, Johnston said, noting that The Garrett Companies received approval to build another multi-story apartment complex, the Verge Luxury Flats, nearby.

The rezoning would limit buildings on the property to no higher than four stories, while under the current industrial zoning, taller buildings are allowed, Johnson said.

The plan commission ultimately voted 9-6 to send a favorable recommendation to the city council, with conditions.

In other news

The plan commission also heard an annexation request which would add 104.3 acres to the city of Greenwood as agricultural. The property is located adjacent to Five Points Road and north of Main Street, east of the city limits.

The voluntary annexation was requested by Pulte Homes of Indiana, and is the first step of several steps. The land is located within a fire protection district, and due to state law, any annexation involving fire protection districts can’t be effective until the second Jan. 1 after the adoption of the annexation ordinance, said Tim Oak, an attorney representing the developer.

Originally, the annexation started with more than 300 acres, however, one of the landowners withdrew from the process, and rather than making make parts of this annexation involuntarily, they decided to do this area for now. Ultimately the plan is to annex the rest of a property known as the Francesann Property to develop an age-restricted community in the future, Oak said.

Dr. Robert Robinson, whose property would be bordered by the annexation, told the commission he is concerned about any future development affecting a private airstrip he has on the property. Robinson prefers to take off and land from the west side of the property due to the area, he said.

Robinson said he is not against the annexation, but he is concerned about future use of the property.

The proposal before the plan commission would not affect his ability to use the airstrip right away. Due to the extended process, there is time for the developer and Robinson to work out an agreement, Oak said.

The plan commission forwarded the annexation to the city council with unanimous vote.

The council will have a public hearing on both the annexation and rezone at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6.