Carmel City Council OKs housing project near busy Keystone Avenue intersection

The Carmel City Council on Monday night approved a residential project after the developer agreed to reduce the number of units that would be built.

Last year, Old Town Cos. proposed building 240 units, including condos or townhouses and single-family homes, at the northeast corner of 136th Street and Keystone Parkway.

Called The Overlook, the development now will include 165 units, consisting of 65 to 68 townhouse units and 97 to 100 single-family homes.

Old Town had requested the city rezone about 60 acres of land from the R-1 residential zoning designation to a planned unit development to accommodate the project. 

Throughout the rezone process—which first began with a meeting between neighbors and the developer a year ago—residents expressed concerns about the density of the project and its impact on traffic in the area, particularly at the 136th Street and Keystone Parkway roundabout.

In letters to city officials and during public testimony, several residents said the intersection gets backed up during peak morning and evening hours. The issue also is compounded by traffic generated by Carmel High School, south of the development site.

Before the proposal moved from the Carmel Plan Commission to the city council, the developer agreed to cut back the number of units to 200 and promised to design an entryway into the neighborhood that would minimize the impact on traffic.

The number of units was cut back even further to 165 after the rezone was discussed in depth by the city council’s land use and special studies committee.

A traffic study found the new neighborhood would not significantly affect the intersection.

Councilor Sue Finkam, who represents residents in the area, said she hopes the Lowe’s Way project currently under construction will alleviate some traffic in the roundabout, and she promised to continue to advocate for traffic improvements there.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the rezone, with councilor Tony Green voting no.

Old Town’s project is the second proposed for the site in the past two years. Beazer Homes of Indiana LLP filed plans in 2017 to build a 157-home, age-restricted community called the Reserve at Cool Creek, but it withdrew the proposal in early 2018.

The property is mostly vacant, except for a house that was originally built as a two-story log cabin in 1834. The house was expanded in 1853 and 1909. The home will be preserved as part of the development plan. Preserving the home was important to city officials and residents.

The home has been owned by several generations of the Hull and Brennan families since the early 1900s. It was constructed by members of the first wave of pioneers in Hamilton County and was originally the center of a 631-acre plot of land deeded to William Wilkinson in 1822.

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