When Randy Goodin moved to a mostly undeveloped area east of Greenwood, he said he expected development would come in the future, especially when a new Interstate 65 interchange was approved.
But Goodin said he expected his new neighbors would be a day care and small businesses — not a gas station that would bring traffic 50 yards away from his home all hours of the night, or an apartment complex that could bring hundreds of new residents.
Now, Goodin and several of his neighbors in the Central Park and Copperfield South neighborhoods have formed their own group, Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood, which meets every Tuesday to discuss development and concerns and plans to fight a proposed apartment complex they don’t believe fits their community.
Last month, more than 100 residents fought against a proposed gas station that was planned to include 10 pumps and 20 fueling stations. They didn’t stop the gas station from being built at Worthsville and Sheek roads, across from Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School, but they did get the city to stop the gas station from connecting to their neighborhood streets.
Now, they are focused on a 29-acre piece of property east of Sheek Road, near Stop 18 Road. The land is zoned for a subdivision that could include about 100 houses. The group is OK with that plan.
But Herman and Kittle Properties, a developer that specializes in apartment complexes, is interested in buying the land to build 30 apartment buildings with about 300 units.
An apartment complex would more than double the number of residents who would live in the area under the current zoning. And neighbors are concerned an apartment complex will add to congested traffic along Sheek Road, where kids walk to the nearby middle school.
“The gas station going in near the new Interstate 65 interchange at Worthsville Road is going to increase traffic along an already congested Sheek Road, and adding an apartment complex with close to 300 more families is only going to make it worse,” Central Park resident Mark Wiggam said.
They’re also concerned about a high-density apartment complex lowering their property value.
High-density apartments will make it feel like everyone is living on top of one another, Goodin said.
In order to buy the property and build the apartments, the land will have to be rezoned. And that is the proposal the group is fighting. If the proposal to rezone the property is denied, Herman and Kittle will have to go elsewhere to build the apartment complex, Greenwood Planning Director Bill Peeples said.
This time, the residents have a better chance of getting what they want, Central Park resident Mark Wiggam said.
When the gas station was proposed near Central Park, the property already was zoned for that type of development. So there was little city officials could do despite understanding and in some cases agreeing with the residents who protested against it.
This time, since the property is currently zoned to allow a housing subdivision, the neighbors feel like they have a chance not only to be heard but actually to put a stop to the plans to rezone the property for apartments, Wiggam said.
If the proposal is approved by the plan commission, the city council also would have to approve the rezoning. Council member Bruce Armstrong, who represents the southeast area of Greenwood, is against more apartments in the city and wants to work with the resident group on what should be developed in the area around the new interchange.
“I will be voting against this as strongly as I can. I agree with the Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood’s issues about lower property values. We have an overabundance of apartments, and the homes the property is currently zoned for would be a higher standard over almost anything in that area,” he said.
The proposed apartment complex would feature amenities such as a pool, a fenced dog park, a playground, car ports and garages that tenants could rent. The complex would not be solely for low-income residents but would have income restrictions. Anyone who applies to live there must make less than $42,000 a year, Herman and Kittle’s attorney Stephen Huddleston said. With those restrictions, the development would receive a lower interest rate for funding, he said.
Goodin doesn’t think an apartment complex with those limitations and requirements is the ideal neighbor for the surrounding subdivisions and the development near the city’s new entrance from I-65. When Goodin built his home, he saw it as a step up from the mobile home community where he was living and was hopeful about what the area could become.
“The city is doing everything wrong over here,” Goodin said. “It’s not that we’re trying to be better than everyone, but with the gas station, property values will go down, and my fear is it will be even harder for me to sell this house if someone looks out across the street and sees an apartment complex.”
Wiggam and his wife came from an apartment before becoming homeowners, and he is concerned about what the proposed development could do to property values in 10 years.
“When we moved here, we thought if we lived here the rest of our lives we would be OK with that, but now, that might not be the case,” Wiggam said.
“This is supposed to be the city’s new grand entrance, but this does not make sense.”