Monon Lake project makes it way to Carmel City Council

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By Adam Aasen

A controversial new housing development – which received a negative recommendation from the Carmel Planning Commission – is now being considered by the Carmel City Council.

Representatives from M/I Homes presented their plan for the Monon Lake planned unit development, which would be located north of I-465, near the Monon Trail and Range Line Road.

Organized protestors, from nearby neighborhoods such as College Meadows, Marwood and Orchard Park, filled the council chambers to voice their displeasure. They feel the project creates dangerous traffic concerns, could harm the environment and is too densely plotted for the area. Many city officials have shared their concerns, leading to unanimously negative votes from the entire plan commission and its subdivision committee.

Some city councilors expressed trepidation, but the proposal was sent to the council’s Land Use, Annexation and Economic Development Committee where details can be discussed.

Joshua Kirsh, member of the plan commission and the parks board, spoke against the proposal, saying he feels that this rezone is just a way to cram more homes into a small amount of land. The area is already zoned for 28 homes but M/I Homes is asking to build 43.

“This might be crass for me to say, but this is an obvious attempt to subjugate our zoning laws to accomplish a feat that couldn’t be done any other way,” he said.

Kirsh admitted some of his critics say he overvalues the environmental features of the area. Some have called the lake “slime lake” and feel it’s not a beautiful area, but Kirsh said that’s beside the point. To him, it’s an area worth preserving.

“No amount of beer bottles or cars in the lake suddenly makes this a neighborhood instead of an area for a green space,” he said.

The developer presented its plan, which highlighted an area which they will donate to the parks department to preserve some of the natural environment.

The proposal will be discussed at the council’s Land Use Committee meeting on Aug. 26.

Some Neighbors’ Objections

  • Using existing residential roads as traffic through roads could create hazards because of the abundance of cyclists, joggers and children playing in the area.
  • Congestion could occur on College Avenue.
  • Drainage problems could be created.
  • Building 43 homes in close proximity is out of character with the area.
  • There could be environmental damage if you tear down the wooded area to build these homes.
  • With several empty nester projects in the works nearby, such as the recent acquisition of Sunrise Golf Course, this space would be the only green space or potential parks space left in the area.

Developer’s Point of View

  • They claim since the homes are meant for empty nesters, it should mean less of an impact on schools and traffic.
  • They believe they are protecting the natural features of the lake and will build areas to promote a nature walk.
  • They claim the added connectivity to the Monon Trail fits in with the city’s overall plan. In addition, the emphasis on cycling paths could reduce cars on the road.
  • The developer believes there should be adequate tree buffers to separate this project from adjacent neighborhoods.
  • They have agreed to help widen some roads to ease traffic concerns.
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