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Officials want details on land use at I-65 interchange

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Two Greenwood City Council members think a plan for the future use of land around a new Interstate 65 interchange is too vague to ensure the city gets the high-end development officials want to define the area.

The city council is considering adding the plan, which outlines where the city would like to see offices, stores, homes and a recreational lake built, to Greenwood’s overall development plan. But council members Brent Corey and David Hopper said they are concerned with a lack of details.

The plan calls for high-end condominiums and apartments, single-family homes, offices and some commercial and industrial buildings to be built on about 1,850 acres the city is annexing near the planned interchange.

Much of the land is agricultural, and the city wants to attract high-end development and prevent truck stops and fast-food restaurants from building in the area, if possible.

The land-use plan never defines high-end development and doesn’t explain the architectural standards for businesses and homes, Corey said.

That means the building standards could be open to interpretation, and inconsistent definitions of what constitutes high-end could be used as the land is developed, he said.

Not many cities have the chance to plan how to use so much land at a new interstate exit, he said.

“I think we have a clean slate here, and I think it could be very special to the city,” Corey said. “We could mess up planning-wise.”

Another problem the two have with the plan is that it doesn’t follow all existing city rules for residential building.

For example, some of the single-family homes in the plan would have zero-lot lines, which are against city rules, Corey said.

Zero-lot line properties are homes built on or near a lot line, which often are close together and sometimes so close that residents can’t build a fence or storage building, Greenwood director of community development services Mark Richards said.

The document should include an action plan for establishing the kind of development the city wants happen. The plan should specifically describe the square footage and brick styles allowed for houses and the number of stories permitted for office buildings, he said. For homes, agricultural landscaping, such as white ranch fences, could be required for property lines, he said.

Greenwood’s zoning rules could be modified to require certain standards for landscaping and masonry for commercial and industrial properties. But the plan doesn’t include any recommended zoning restrictions, so no rules exist to ensure building in that area is actually high-end, he said.

Housing is a big concern for both Corey and Hopper in the city’s updated plan.

The plan includes too many homes and not enough of the office space that will earn the city more in property taxes, Hopper said. Property taxes on homes are capped at 1 percent of the property’s value, but taxes for businesses are capped at 3 percent of the total value, meaning they pay more in property taxes. The plan allots nearly 1,300 acres to housing, 60 acres for shops, 160 acres for offices and 210 acres for industrial development.

The residential land includes 440 acres for apartments, condominiums and townhouses, which they say is also a concern.

“I’m worried about the high density. I think that area should be special and unique, and I think Greenwood has enough high-density housing,” Corey said.

Instead of allowing apartments and condominiums, the city could specify larger lots for single-family homes and describe what the area should look like, he said. He added he would prefer to see single-family homes built instead of apartments.

The plan is a document the city can change over time, but if details are left too much to interpretation, then new subdivisions that aren’t what the city wanted could be built under future city leaders, he said.

“I don’t want to have any regrets out there,” he said. “We’ve got one shot at doing this right. I think everyone feels that way.”

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