Neighbors Cry Foul In Carmel Development Squabble

63-Acre Plot Could Become Commercial Space

A contentious zoning battle heated up again Tuesday night in Carmel, where two sides are squabbling over a 63-acre plot near the intersection of 116th Street and Spring Mill Road.

The Bridges development would include retail, housing, office space, a grocery store and a gas station in an area that is currently zoned residential, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

"The Bridges will provide a synergistic mix of uses, including local and convenient retail and service uses that are in high demand in this area," said Charlie Frankenberger, a spokesman for the developer.

About a dozen other people spoke in favor of the development, including Matt Haws.

"I think it's projects like that that have an innovative and 21st century approach of mixing commercial and residential uses that will continue to keep Carmel attractive to businesses and families," Haws said.

Many residents are vehemently opposed to a zoning change that would permit construction of the development, and they were vocal at the meeting, contending that the development would lead to unacceptable traffic congestion on Spring Mill Road, which is already a heavily traveled two-lane road.

"I will remember all the people on the planning committee years from now if I'm stuck in endless traffic jams at that intersection because you didn't think about this," said Phil Markaney, who moved to Carmel six years ago.

"It shows an overall lack of sensitivity to adjacent neighborhoods," argued a man who opposes the project.

Joe Heidt, who said he's a professional developer who used to work in San Francisco and Denver and now lives in Carmel, also argued against the development.

"I just found such a flaw on this proposal based upon need. It appears to be more based on the potential value of land taking it from residential land to commercial land," Heidt said.

"All of our neighborhoods oppose this project, and we're here to demonstrate a remonstrance to our neighborhoods' proximity to the proposed site," said Joe Isle, who said he spoke for several nearby neighborhood associations.

The zoning commission sent the issue to a study committee. It could be several more weeks or months before the issue is voted upon.