Residents can voice opinions on development along corridor at meeting

While local officials don’t know what types of businesses could be built along the planned Interstate 69 route, they’re already getting the message about what residents don’t want.

Residents have emphatically said that they don’t want to see any truck stops being built at an I-69 exit in Johnson County, Johnson County Planning Director David Hittle said.

Farmland and homes are what mostly surrounds the six-mile stretch of State Road 37 that passes through the northwest corner of Johnson County. The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to turn the highway into an interstate and build three exits in the county at County Road 144, Smith Valley Road and County Line Road. Construction of the final I-69 section will begin in Martinsville in 2020 and work its way north through Johnson County to Interstate 465 by 2027.

County and Bargersville officials are starting to work on a development plan. They have hired a consultant, HWC Engineers, as part of a joint project to create an I-69 Corridor Plan, which will help local officials determine what types of businesses will be allowed along I-69, what construction materials should be used for those buildings, and what improvements will be needed to local roads to accommodate the increase in traffic.

At previous public meetings about I-69, residents have expressed concerns about how both County Road 144 and Smith Valley Road will handle the increased traffic from vehicles going to and from the interstate.

An open house designed to gather public input as officials begin the planning process is set for Nov. 29 and an additional public meeting will be conducted once officials are further along in the planning process, Hittle said.

Once that process is complete sometime in the middle of next year, the county will make updates to its development and road construction plans, which will be used to guide decisions such as zoning or what road projects officials will pursue in coming years, and the Johnson County Board of Commissioners will need to approve the plans once they are created.

A committee is also meeting regularly as part of the planning process, Hittle said.

With a few exceptions, the majority of land around State Road 37 in Johnson County is zoned for either residential or agricultural use. The county’s current comprehensive plan — a document that provides guidelines for development — calls mostly for parks to the west of the proposed I-69 route and neighborhoods to the east, Hittle said.

But those plans didn’t take into account the possibility of an interstate cutting through the northwest corner of the county and need to be adjusted for the development I-69 is expected to bring, he said.

Officials have already been hearing from residents on a few topics. They’ve been told emphatically that large truck stops are not wanted along I-69, Hittle said.

The county could choose to create zoning rules that would prevent those from being built, he said. But more advice from residents is needed before new zoning is put in place, Hittle said.

The type of development that could come could range from retail stores to office complexes, Hittle said.

While the completion of I-69 is still almost a decade away, developers will be showing interest in land before then, so the county needs its long-term plan for the area, Hittle said.

“This is good to do sooner than later so people and developers understand that this is the county’s intention for the area so they aren’t purchasing something they can’t use the way they want down the road,” he said.

Land purchases have already begun along the I-69 route. A trio of developers purchased about 160 acres of land near the County Road 144 intersection, and Bargersville has approved rezoning that land for commercial use.

Bargersville officials are ready to make use of the potential development, and have expanded one of their tax increment financing, or TIF, districts to include areas around the future I-69 and County Road 144 interchange. That will allow tax revenue from new development in the area to be collected and set aside for specific infrastructure projects.

Road improvements will also be needed to manage the increased traffic on County Road 144 and Smith Valley, Morgantown and Mullinix roads, Hittle said.

The county already plans to widen Smith Valley Road from I-69 to the Greenwood city limits, adding an additional lane in each direction, but a timeline for when that could be done hasn’t been determined, Hittle said.

If you go

I-69 Corridor Plan Public Workshop

Where: Johnson County Public Library, White River Branch, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Nov. 29

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.