Despite concerns over more traffic coming to a growing area of Greenwood, the city council approved allowing new homes to be built on what is now farmland.
Council members want a traffic study in the area around Averitt Road to decide what improvements will be needed to handle the added traffic from about 350 new homes, along with a new middle school and water park.
CalAtlantic Homes has proposed building up to 68 homes on 32 acres on the south side of Cutsinger Road in between Honey Creek and Averitt roads. Construction is planned to begin in 2018. This week by a 5-4 vote, city council members approved rezoning the property from agricultural use to residential.
Three residents, including two who live on Cutsinger Road, spoke in against the project, saying that traffic on Cutsinger Road, which drivers sometimes use as a shortcut when heading east and west across Greenwood, is already problematic, especially at the Averitt Road intersection. They also cited concerns about what the development would mean for their property values, since the homes are proposed to be built on smaller lot sizes than others nearby.
While the council approved the rezoning, several conditions were attached to the project. CalAtlantic must build a trail along Honey Creek on the west side of the property, will need to increase the amount of brick used on homes bordering the creek and Cutsinger Road and cannot build more than 2.1 homes per acre. David Lekse, Linda Gibson, Ron Bates and Dave Hopper voted against the rezoning, citing traffic concerns on Cutsinger Road and the need for those issues to be studied before any further developments being approved in the area.
Besides the CalAtlantic property, Cherry Tree Walk — also south of Cutsinger Road — is in the early stages of development and is planned to have 272 homes. The final two sections of Brighton Estates, a neighborhood west of Freedom Park, are also in the planning process, and would bring another 57 homes.
A traffic study had been planned for Averitt Road when an ice rink complex was being considered at Freedom Park, but once the project changed locations and moved to Interstate 65 and County Line Road, that study was put on hold, city attorney Krista Taggart said.
Council members believe a study is still needed, and the city board of works is looking into how much one might cost and what roads and intersections it should examine.
To temporarily alleviate traffic issues at the Cutsinger and Averitt roads intersection, council member Chuck Landon has proposed putting in four-way stop signs, replacing the current stop signs at Cutsinger Road and the entrance to Greenwood Christian Church. This would make it easier for drivers going east on Cutsinger Road to turn onto Averitt Road, but any solution will first have to wait for a traffic study of the intersection.
A 2011 traffic study counted more than 32,000 vehicles using Averitt Road between 6 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m. every day. With the addition of the new Greenwood Middle School, Freedom Springs Aquatic Center and neighborhoods in the area since then, residents say traffic has only gotten heavier.
For Kendell Faull, who lives on Cutsinger Road about a quarter-mile west of Averitt Road, traffic backups are a daily challenge as he commutes to work.
“I have sat on my front porch and seen cars back up from Averitt Road to the front of my house,” he said.
While drivers do use Cutsinger Road as a shortcut, once work to widen Worthsville Road to four lanes is complete and Stop 18 Road and Apryl Drive have been extended, drivers will have enough east-to-west routes to take, which will ease traffic on Cutsinger Road, Greenwood Planning Director Bill Peeples said.
Work on the next section of Worthsville Road — from Averitt Road to U.S. 31 — won’t begin until 2020. The section after that — from Averitt Road to Honey Creek Road — is tentatively planned for 2022, Greenwood City Engineer Daniel Johnston said.
The completion of Stop 18 Road and Apryl Drive — both of which dead end and don’t connect Honey Creek and Averitt roads — is dependent on developers completing subdivisions in that area, Peeples said. Developers would be required to pay for the construction of roads, and then the city would be responsible for maintenance, he said.