When Zach Mullis bought a home on Centerline Road about 14 years ago, he chose the location because he wanted to live in a rural area while still being close to the amenities of a city.
He gets to wake up to rows of corn across the street, but can drive to get coffee in Franklin in just a couple minutes. And the county rules, such as with burning garbage, are more relaxed than ones inside the Franklin city limits.
Outside of traffic becoming slightly heavier — particularly at Commerce Drive — the area largely has remained the same since he bought his home, Mullis said.
That may change in the future, as Franklin officials see the area along Centerline Road west of Franklin as one that could eventually become a hub for residential development.
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The city’s long-term thoroughfare plan, a guideline for what road improvements may be needed as the city continues to develop, includes a proposed widening of Centerline Road north of State Road 144 up to Whiteland Road, which isn’t currently inside the city limits.
Officials want to look at future improvements to Centerline Road in anticipation of increasing development on the west side of the city, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett said.
Going north from State Road 144, Centerline Road is bordered by farmland and scattered houses until it reaches the Park Forest neighborhood.
Developers have told the city that this is an area they would look to for building homes once areas inside the current city limits are developed, he said.
“We are looking 20 to 30 years down the road,” Barnett said. “Hopefully, as we grow and housing builds up, that would be a good place to expand housing.”
Centerline Road is outside of Franklin city limits, meaning any improvements would be dependent on that area being annexed, Barnett said. Any annexations are still years away and would only be done on a voluntary basis, he said.
Whiteland, which recently repaved its section of Centerline Road, doesn’t have any plans to expand the town south along the road, town manager Norm Gabehart said. The only potential spot for further development would be on a small area of land west of Centerline Road, which likely would be developed into additional neighborhoods, similar to adjacent properties, he said.
Franklin Community High School is about a mile away from Centerline Road, and the city’s development goals for the area center on new neighborhoods, which would be more appropriate than industrial businesses, Barnett said.
An improved Centerline Road would be widened, with turn lanes, curves instead of 90-degree turns, sidewalks and trails, Barnett said.
Bob McCormick, who has lived in a home on Centerline Road for more than 40 years, would be glad to see improvements to the road, especially with the curves and drainage, as the road often floods during periods of heavy rainfall, but he’s not certain how he would fee about the possibility of annexation.
Mullis is not surprised that the area around Centerline Road could eventually be targeted for new neighborhoods to be built, but isn’t sure he’d want to stick around if that comes to fruition. While becoming part of the city with access to amenities such as sewer or recycling services would be beneficial, that would also mean giving up the parts of being in a rural community that he enjoys, he said.