New proposal on deck for apartments near Greenwood airport

For the second time in less than a year, a rezoning request for a potential apartment complex just east of Greenwood’s airport was forwarded to the city council.

The Garrett Companies, a Greenwood-based real estate developer, came before the city’s Advisory Plan Commission Monday night to request the rezoning of approximately 16 acres of land located at 374 N. Emerson Avenue from industrial to residential multi-unit complex zoning for a proposed apartment complex on the site. The plan commission unanimously issued a favorable recommendation for the rezoning following a public hearing on Monday.

The developer is responsible for several developments in the Greenwood, including the Verge Luxury Flats and The Hangar on Emerson, both of which are several blocks north of the newly proposed complex. The Hanger on Emerson is currently under construction, while the Verge is completed and occupied.

The proposed apartment complex, dubbed “Oliver Springs,” would consist of 22 two-story residential buildings and a one-story clubhouse. The community would also include a pool, dog park, mail kiosk, small maintenance building, a trash compactor enclosure, a building with a dog wash and a stormwater detention area, according to city documents.

There would be 236 units with attached garages at a density of fewer than 15 units per acre in the complex, said Ken Kozio, a representative of The Garrett Companies.

This proposal is the second rezoning request the plan commission has seen for a proposed apartment complex on this site in the last eight months.

Indianapolis-based Muesing Management Company submitted a rezoning proposal last November for another proposed apartment complex. Muesing’s proposal was for a five-building, four-story apartment complex with approximately 342 units. However, residents voiced concerns about the complex’s potential effects on an adjacent subdivision, Maple Grove. These concerns included traffic and the height of the buildings.

The plan commission ultimately gave that proposal a favorable recommendation in a 6-3 vote, and when the rezoning came before the city council in December, the council voted 5-3, with one member absent, against the proposal, stopping it in its’ tracks.

The Garrett Companies researched the history of the previous proposal when it came to developing their own proposal, and specifically designed their proposal to address many of the concerns raised by residents late last year, Kozio said. Among the changes designed to address the concerns are the buildings’ height, the number of units, the number of surface parking spaces, unit density and the establishment of large buffers between the complex and nearby homes, he told the commission on Monday.

“We have addressed and improved upon all of the concerns raised from the property’s previous rezoning efforts,” Kozio said.

A traffic study focusing on the effects 350 units would have on traffic along Emerson Avenue was also completed, something that was not done at the time of the first proposal. The study found that the development would not cause the need for any road improvements on Emerson Avenue between Main Street and County Line Road, he said.

Nearby homeowners and other concerned residents came out and voiced concerns about the new proposal on Monday, including some residents who came out to oppose the first proposal.

Sandra Behymer, whose home is located along the south side of the proposed complex, said she disagrees with the traffic study. Since the city placed traffic dividers to restrict where people can turn on Emerson Avenue, it has become extremely difficult for residents to turn into and out of the neighborhood from Emerson Avenue, she said.

Behymer chose the neighborhood because it was a nice and quiet area, and while she understands that people need a home, she doesn’t want to see apartments so close to her home, she said.

Dwight Howard, who had previously spoken out against the first proposal, told the commission while he was happy to see that the latest proposal had fewer apartments, he believed it would still cause issues with traffic in the area. Howard said the city needs to determine if Emerson Avenue can handle the traffic before allowing the development to move forward.

“Why create a storm that doesn’t need to be created?” Howard said. “It’s bad enough the way it is right now, but all we’re doing is adding more fuel to the fire and making it a lot more dangerous for the people behind me and myself getting out on the road.”

R. Lee Money, an attorney representing the property owner and a former president of the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission, told the commission that when the city worked on improving Emerson Avenue a few years ago, the road was designed and planned to specifically handle traffic volumes much higher than what it currently has. The center turn lane is designed to handle large amounts of traffic, and the addition of the complex would not burden the roads, he said.

Greenwood resident Randy Goodin expressed concerns about how close the buildings were to homes in the Maple Grove subdivision and asked if the developer had considered placing a berm between the apartments and the homes, similar to what is done for industrial developments.

In response to Goodin’s question, Kozio told the commission that the developer made its setback, or the minimum distance which a building or other structure must be set back from a particular place in need of protection, larger than the original proposal to provide more of a buffer between the development and nearby homes. The Garrett Companies also removed several areas of surface parking on the south side of the property so that nearby homeowners would not have headlights shining into their homes, he said.

The rezoning now goes to the city council, where it will be discussed at the council’s July 18 meeting.