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Greenwood aims for strict development at new exit

August 31, 2015

When you get off Interstate 65 at a new Greenwood exit, don't expect to find truck stops, fast-food restaurants and multiple gas stations.

Warehouses and apartments won't be allowed, either.

All buildings will be mostly done in brick or stone; signs will be kept to a minimum; and green space, including the size of front, side and backyards, the number of trees and shrubs and even the height of the trees, has been carefully plotted.

For years, city officials have been discussing approving standards for not only what should be built in specific areas of the city but also what they should look like.

And with more development expected in two key areas — at the new Worthsville Road interchange and along Indiana 135 — officials wanted to get those standards in place now, city council and planning commission member Linda Gibson said.

"It's to the point we can't wait any longer, we have to get it done," she said. "It's prime. It's ripe. We have to be able to get these standards in place."

This week, after getting the approval of the planning commission, the new standards took effect. Now, whenever a development is planned in either area, city officials and members of a committee that reviews developments will look specifically at those guidelines to be sure they are being followed, Greenwood planning director Bill Peeples said.

The goal is to make sure the city dictates what they want in those growth areas, planning commission member Trent Pohlar said.

"Most of us agree we just want to up the standards a little bit," he said.

The new standards focus on two key growth areas in the city: along Indiana 135, between County Line and Whiteland roads; and on mostly undeveloped land near the new Worthsville Road exit on Interstate 65.

One of the focuses is what should be built in those areas.

Along Indiana 135, most of the land is zoned for commercial buildings, but since a big section of the area is already developed, the new standards apply only to new development, an expanded building or a new or expanded parking lot, according to the city rules.

On the list of what will not be allowed: auto sales and self-storage lots. If a self-storage business is already along Indiana 135, it would not be affected, unless a significant portion of the facility was damaged and would need to be rebuilt, which would not be allowed, Peeples said.

Also on the list of what is prohibited — apartment complexes.

The city will allow multifamily housing, such as apartments, only if they are built on the floors above retail or office space, according to the new rules.

That is also a requirement around Worthsville Road. But in that area, the city also won't allow heavy industrial development, such as warehouses. And the list of banned developments is longer, including gas stations, auto and RV sales, truck stops, restaurants with drive-thrus, self-storage facilities, mobile home communities and churches that don't pay the city's proposed nonprofit fee. New neighborhoods also cannot have higher density housing, the rules said.

City officials have long discussed the area around the new interchange as a new entryway into the city, where they want higher-end businesses such as office space and homes.

"There is a lot of building that is going to be coming up, especially at the Worthsville Road area," Pohlar said. "We kind of have a blank slate out there. Let's not just go with what we had in the past."

On top of the type of development, the city also specifies what projects should look like. That includes requirements for what the outside of buildings should look like: at least 75 percent brick, stone, tile, block or concrete panels for business buildings, and no vinyl or aluminum siding on homes.

In the Worthsville Road area, parking lots must have at least 8 percent of the space be landscaped, with specific requirements of 10 to 15 parking spaces between landscaped medians. Businesses must set aside 15- to 30-foot corridors of green space in front of their buildings, depending on which street they are located along; and the green space can have no signs.

Along Indiana 135, one tree must be planted at least every 50 feet along the side and rear property line, and shade trees must be at least 8 feet tall and cannot include ash trees.

Other discussions will be important as development is planned in areas, including where access roads should be built and limiting the access points from main roads, also avoiding issues that have come up in already developed areas along Indiana 135, Gibson said.

"We have to always be progressive," she said. "We don't want to always be following the same familiar road."

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