Carmel clears path for Monon Lake housing project

With neighbors pleading for more time, Carmel City Council on Monday approved a year-old rezoning request that clears the way for M/I Homes’ planned Monon Lake development just north of Interstate 465.

Plans for the controversial project call for 43 high-end homes to be built north and west of an existing 12-acre lake on a heavily wooded property along the Monon Greenway.

Although the 34-acre property already was zoned for residential uses, M/I wanted it classified as a planned unit development with its own development standards.

The result of the change: more homes on smaller lots. But the developer also agreed to preserve more trees that would have been required otherwise.

As designed, more than 22 acres of the site will remain open space.

M/I’s proposal was at least the fourth attempt to develop the land in the past dozen years, said City Council member Luci Snyder, part of the majority in the 6-1 vote.

“At some point or another, I think you need to cut the best deal you can,” she said.

Home prices are expected to range from $325,000 to $400,000.

Neighbors weren’t convinced. About 20 opponents turned out for the council meeting, wearing florescent stickers signaling their solidarity.

During a public hearing last month, critics shared worries about traffic and the environmental impact of developing the privately owned land.

The Carmel Clay Plan Commission was among the detractors, forwarding the project to council with a unanimous unfavorable recommendation.

During Monday’s meeting, council President Eric Seidensticker read a letter asking the council to delay the vote while neighbors worked to purchase the property.

Councilor Sue Finkam called the effort “admirable, but just a little too late.”

M/I tweaked its plans during the approval to assuage concerns. One of two entrances to the neighborhood will only be used in emergencies, for example. The builder also agreed to use more masonry on certain homes.

Council member Ron Carter was the lone detractor, saying he didn’t want to send the message that the Plan Commission’s recommendation was not valued.

Snyder said the lake was created when the Indiana Department of Transportation used the land as a so-called “borrow pit” during construction of I-465.

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