After testimony from about 20 nearby residents, a split vote from the Johnson County Advisory Plan Commission resulted in a continuance for a controversial White River Township apartment complex.
The developer, Carmel-based PEDCOR Homes Corporation, will have to wait another month for a commission to issue a recommendation on a rezoning request.
PEDCOR came before the commission Monday night to request the rezoning of about 14.1 acres of land located on the northwest corner of Bluff Road and Fairview Road. The land is currently zoned for community businesses, and PEDCOR wants the land rezoned to build an approximately 216-unit apartment complex dubbed “Galleria at Market Place.”
The nine-member plan commission originally voted 4-3, with two members absent, to issue an unfavorable recommendation for the development. However, after a legal clarification, the commission determined that the motion failed to pass because their rules of procedure say the majority of the entire board constitutes five people, not four.
The commission then voted again to issue an unfavorable recommendation, however, the vote did not change. The commission ultimately unanimously approved PEDCOR’s last-minute continuance until Dec. 19 with the hope that enough members will vote the same way to reach a decision on the project.
This move was met with widespread consternation from the more than 40 residents who came out to oppose the proposal. Of those, 19 spoke out against the development during the public hearing.
Galleria at Market Place would consist of 11 two- to three-story buildings, including a clubhouse and fitness center. Outdoor amenities include a pool, bocce ball and pickleball courts and a playground, said Brian Touhy, an attorney representing PEDCOR.
PEDCOR has several properties in Johnson County, including Trotters Pointe Apartments in Greenwood, he said.
There had been some rumors that it was going to be an affordable housing development, but this is not true, Touhy told the commission. Rents are expected to range from $1,100 to over $2,000 a month because the apartments are luxury.
“All communities I think need some affordable housing, but this is not affordable housing,” Touhy said. “This is a very high-end expensive multifamily development. … We believe this would be the most luxurious apartment community in Johnson County if this is approved.”
Due to the location of the development being within the Interstate 69 road impact fee area, PEDCOR is expected to pay almost $400,000 to the county, he said. The fee is charged to all new businesses, commercial developments and homes that are within an impact zone known as the Interstate 69 corridor in western Johnson County. The impact zone stretches from Bargersville’s southern point to County Line Road along State Road 37.
During the public hearing, the residents expressed concerns about how the development would affect traffic in the area. With the upcoming closure of Fairview Road at State Road 37 for I-69, they were concerned traffic would get worse.
“… I know they said it’s not going to be congested, but you’re going to sit in a line for 45 minutes on County Line Road in the evening to go either way on there. I don’t see how it’s going make it any better,” resident Pamela Young said.
Brandy Smith, a woman who used to live within the city of Greenwood, was disappointed the county was even considering the proposal.
“I’m very disappointed to know that there’s even a proposal of an apartment complex going there,” Smith said. “That’s going to back up traffic in that area to where they’re sitting in front of my house waiting at that light. It’s going to back that up that far.”
Resident Derek Wolfe expressed concerns about the possible additional stresses that could be put on Center Grove Community Schools, and specifically Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
Brandon Delk, vice president of development for PEDCOR, told the commission he had already spoken with Dr. Bill Long, Center Grove’s assistant superintendent of operations, who he said was excited about the growth. Based on PEDCOR’s nationwide portfolio of more than 19,000 apartment units, the developer anticipated 103 school-age children being added to the district.
“Those (will be) split amongst elementary, middle and high schools, and each one of the school systems for those children all have capacity for them,” Delk said.
In terms of traffic concerns, Touhy said that regardless of what is built at the site, there is going to be development and traffic generated. It is an appropriate location due to its proximity to the future I-69, he said.
Later, plan commission member Charlie Canary said there will always be issues with traffic with any development that is built in more populated areas. It will always be the number one issue, he said.
“I don’t know how you alleviate that,” Canary said.
Plan commission chairman Chad Bowman said he is unsure if the complex is the best use of the land. The county’s land use plans show the land as mixed-use.
While there were discussions about small business, from Bowman’s experience none have ever lasted in the area. Even larger corporations in the area, such as the CVS pharmacy located between the proposed complex and future I-69, are at risk of closing amid the construction, he said.