image_3 developments-b

A Better Outcome for Nora: Alexander at the Crossing

The wooded property on the northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd was slated for an intensive commercial development with near clear-cutting of trees (the approved “Kite Project”). The goal of renegotiating the development was to seek a better outcome for the Nora community on this important gateway parcel.

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At 3 pm Thursday, April 5th, negotiations on the Alexander at the Crossing project (zoning case 2016-ZON-020) came to a successful conclusion, with documents filed Friday. This is a summary of the negotiated agreement.

Community Priorities

On March 4th, Driftwood Hills (DH), the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), The Nora Alliance (NA) representatives met together to establish a common list of negotiation objectives. Although DH representatives, originally in a leadership role for this process, stepped away in favor of negotiating directly with the developer, NCC, NA, and DH continued to share common overarching goals. Our contacts with DH have been consistent and regular with the DHNA current/past-president and the DHNA new/current president.

Negotiation Objectives

The issues can be summed up as trees/tree canopy, traffic, and protection of the residential neighborhood on the north side of 86th St. Our mutual objectives going into negotiations included the following:

  • Commitment on the northern part of the parcel for residential use only with density not to exceed that proposed in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan
  • Reduction in Alexander Project surface parking lot area
  • Reduction of noise and light pollution
  • Incorporate existing trees of significance into the site plan
  • Pedestrian safety – signalized crosswalk across 86th St.
  • Neighborhood traffic safety concerns
  • Area traffic improvements, including light timing and confirming eastbound/westbound turn lanes from Haverstick Rd (while we all agreed the developer isn’t responsible for solving all the 86th St traffic congestion problems in the area, they need to work with the City on solutions)
  • (Follow-up (via email) included information about the emergency signaling devices installed but which may not be operational on 86th St that control the lights when emergency vehicles approach. This issue needs to be resolved by City departments (it is not a conflict the developer can resolve), but nonetheless important for Nora safety and we will continue to follow up with Councilor Fanning and City on this important issue.)

Outcome of Negotiations

Negotiation is largely about compromise. With some give-and-take, we think we successfully achieved our end goal of a better outcome for the Nora community and the neighborhood of Driftwood Hills, with an improved plan over both the approved Kite Project and 2017 denied Alexander Project. The project has significant modifications from what was rejected last Fall, with many concessions that greatly improve the project for the community.

The following is a summary of that outcome:

  • Protects residential character of the neighborhood and restricts further commercial development
    • Commits adjacent property on the north side (old Alexander “Phase II”) of the development to be for residential use only, with density not to exceed 8 units per acre (the Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan recommends greater than 8.00 and equal to or less than 15.00 units per acre for this area).
    • Provides for a Driftwood Hills neighborhood gateway sign on Haverstick to identify neighborhood.
  • Reduces hard surfaces and improves drainage
    • Reduces total impervious surfaces of development parcel (approximately 70% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Reduces surface parking to not more than 300 spaces (reduced from 363 spaces from old Alexander; 18% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Reduces building footprint to 28,000 square feet (it was 30,000), and allows for alternate building with additional stories and integrated parking (53% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Saves a 1.2-acre area that would have been clear-cut for detention pond (preserving nearly 100 trees over 10 caliper inches) by using an underground detention system (100% improvement over approved Kite Project)
  • Decrease noise and light pollution
    • Reduces noise pollution from speakers by limiting their position such that the audio is directed away from the residential neighborhood and strictly adhere to applicable noise or nuisance ordinances (noise was not addressed in Kite Project).
    • Restricts trash pick up to between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m (noise was not addressed in Kite Project).
    • Reduces light pollution from the parking lot by featuring full cutoff fixtures, automatic dimming and motion control technology (light was not addressed in Kite Project).
  • Saves Trees
    • Incorporates the existing tree commitments from the approved Kite Project – stringent tree mitigation is still required.
    • Conserves more heritage and significant trees into site plan by conserving a contiguous wooded area on the eastern border of the subject property (a 1.5-acre increase from approved Kite Project).
    • Protects trees during construction by identifying appropriate equipment staging area and following a qualified tree preservation plan (Kite project would be near clear-cut with no staging area necessary).
    • Keeps the benefits of tree mitigation within the Nora community. In the past, other development tree mitigations have sent tree replacements as far away as the Colts training grounds. The agreement clarifies that replacement trees will stay in Nora, in locations where they make sense.
    • Helps assure replacement trees survive by providing a 2-year tree warranty period (Alexander project previously had 1 -year commitment; Kite Project had no warranty period for mitigated trees).
  • Enhances pedestrian and neighborhood traffic safety
    • Establishes a “Driftwood Hills Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Fund” for the sole purpose of:
      • Assisting in the funding of neighborhood traffic calming devices, the exact location and type of devices to be determined by the Nora Representatives in consultation with the Driftwood Hills Neighborhood Association, Green Indy, LLC, and the City of Indianapolis.
      • Signalized crosswalk at Haverstick Rd and 86th St.
    • Reduces through-traffic into the neighborhood from the development by restricting the parking lot exit to a left-turn-only (south) onto Haverstick Rd (no similar restrictions in the previous Alexander or Kite Project).
    • Discourages through traffic from the development by a neighborhood gateway sign.
  • Improves area traffic
    • Improves traffic exiting neighborhood by providing dedicated left turn lane and shared right/through lane for southbound Haverstick Rd.
    • Modifies existing traffic signal timing at 86th Street and Haverstick Road.
    • Engages the developer in discussions with the City of Indianapolis to coordinate signal timing with the intersections of 86th Street and the Keystone ramps and to relieve congestion associated with frequent bus service.

2018-04-05_Overall Plan Alexander at the Crossing-Ex Trees-med

The developer, Green Indy LLC, listened carefully, showed a willingness to compromise, and made important modifications based on these priorities.

We’d like to reaffirm our belief that Councilor Fanning and NCC have acted in the best interests of all Nora residents. The Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), by a vote of their board, requested Councilor Fanning make this call-down. The Nora Alliance, Inc (NA) Board of Directors supported the call-down request. The NCC has 50 years experience with land use development cases in the Nora community. They are also a fount of knowledge regarding the unsuccessful legal battles fought by Nora neighbors in an attempt to stop the 2005 D-P zoning of this site. NCC made a compelling argument for why a renegotiated Alexander Project makes sense as the best possible outcome given the existing D-P zoning and the logical likelihood that the site will be developed.

We have witnessed Councilor Fanning passionately representing the interests of her constituents in the Nora community and NCC as the lead neighborhood organization on land use issues.

Preliminary DP Plan

Statement of Commitments

 

IndyMoves-Project_Map

Indy Moves! Nora, We Need Your Input!

Neighbors, here is our opportunity to let the City know what Nora’s priorities are for walking, bicycling, driving, and transit.

IndyMoves-Project_Map

Indy Moves interactive map. Public ideas are in bright pink.

What is Indy Moves?

Indy Moves is a citywide effort to tie together Indianapolis’ many transportation plans and projects and establish an action plan that keeps us all moving for years to come. It will connect Indianapolis’ transportation goals, plans, and projects into an integrated mobility future. This includes the bicycle network, pedestrian network, trails and greenways, street expansion plans, and bus/bus rapid transit plans. Learn more here.

Your Input Is Needed!

Indy Moves is making the final push to get comments from the community on the Draft Capital Plan. An interactive map will let you comment on proposed projects, add new project ideas, and vote for your favorites. Share your thoughts on the project ideas that have been submitted and add your own. We want to know what projects matter most to you and which you think are most important for our future.

Here’s How You Can Help

  1. Log into the interactive map (you do not need an account to log in).
  2. Zoom to Nora (and your neighborhood) to view proposed project ideas (shown in bright pink).
  3. The Nora Alliance has added project ideas gathered from the Nora  Pedestrian Planning Meeting last Fall. Click on a project to view and “Like” the projects you deem important.
  4. Add new projects and comments that you think are needed.

Be sure to submit your comments before the online map closes March 20th

Kite-Alexander

Seeking a Better Outcome at 86th & Haverstick

The northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd is approved for commercial development. The question is, what form will the development take?

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UPDATE 4/6 Negotiations have concluded and an agreement has been reached. Read the summary here.

UPDATE March 13- April 4 – Negotiation period.
UPDATE March 13 – With passage of the call-down, the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC) and Nora Alliance (NA) have initiated negotiations for modifications on the Alexander project. We have included all priorities that NCC/NA/DH identified together on March 4th in our negotiation points.
UPDATE March 12 – City-County Council passed the call-down request to reopen negotiations on the Alexander project.
UPDATE March 4 – Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), Nora Alliance (NA), and Driftwood Hill (DH) neighbor representatives meet and work together to establish a common list of priorities and negotiating points. Although DH opposes the call-down process, we continue to share the overarching goal of renegotiating the Alexander project for a better outcome for the Nora community. By creating a list of mutual priorities and negotiating points, we established, up front, the terms for a favorable outcome for the community. Among many other items, neighborhood traffic and ways to preserve more areas of tree canopy are identified issues.
  • commitment on the northern part of the parcel for residential use only with density not to exceed that proposed in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan
  • reduction in Alexander Project surface parking lot area by 30%
  • reduction of noise and light pollution
  • Incorporate existing trees of significance into site plan
  • pedestrian safety – signalized crosswalk across 86th St.
  • neighborhood traffic safety concerns
  • area traffic improvements, including light timing and confirming eastbound/westbound turn lanes from Haverstick Rd (while we all agreed the developer isn’t responsible for solving all the 86th St traffic congestion problems in the area, they need to work with the City on solutions)
  • (follow-up (via email) included information about the “Opticom” emergency signaling devices installed but not in use on 86th St that control the lights when emergency vehicles approach. As we understand from Kris the system was installed by the Fire Dept but is not operational due to DPW concerns over signal timing. This issue needs to be resolved by City departments (it is not a conflict the developer can resolve), but nonetheless important for Nora safety and we will continue to follow up with Councilor Fanning and City to see where changes can be made.)
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The northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd is approved for commercial development. The question is, what form will the development take? The currently approved development will result in near-clear cutting of the ~13-acre property to build a big box retail store and townhomes, with a large parking lot fronting 86th St. A lower-impact development option was recently defeated. This alternative included a two-story building fronting 86th St with a mix of office and commercial use that would have saved a significant portion of trees and drainage areas. Now, the community may have a chance to revisit the question of which development is preferred.

This is a choice between two developments, two tree removal outcomes, and their ultimate impact on the community. One development project is approved, and the developer has repeatedly stated they are committed to building. At the March 12 Indianapolis City-County Council meeting, Councilor Colleen Fanning plans to call-down the zoning case at the direct request of the Nora-Northside Community Council (NCC), and with the support of the Nora Alliance.

The NCC and Nora Alliance seek to achieve a better outcome, giving the neighborhood and Nora community a lower-impact development. Because of the case’s complexity, we present the details of Haverstick’s zoning history below to help Nora residents to better understand the facts of the matter, why preserving the property as parkland is not an available option, what a “call-down” is, and why this case is being called-down for review.

Kite and Alexander Projects Side-by-Side

Haverstick-Kite-Alexander-Indianapolis
The property in question is made up of the heavily wooded parcels located on the northeast corner of Haverstick Rd and 86th St, one block west of Keystone Ave. The approved and still valid Kite project and proposed Alexander project (highlighted areas indicate Phase 1 & 2) are shown side-by-side for comparison.

Current Zoning Designation – The Kite Project

The property carries a D-P (“planned unit development district”) zoning designation granted in 2005 (zoning case 2005-ZON-034-DP12), which authorizes, among other things, a 66,000 square foot big-box store (e.g., grocery), a near-clear cutting of trees (27 to remain), 1.2-acre surface detention pond, expansive surface parking, and 31 townhomes. We refer to this as the “Kite project” for ease of discussion.

Kite site plan Haverstick

The essential fact of this case is that the Kite project is the legally approved development of the property. While members of the Nora community fought a protracted legal battle with the City of Indianapolis to revoke or modify this zoning in 2005, they were summarily unsuccessful. There is no remaining legal leverage with which to fight the current zoning designation. Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett and Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) Director Emily Mack have independently confirmed that there is no legal recourse for Nora to prevent Green Indy, LLC from developing the Kite project.

The developer indicates he intends to build the Kite project. The process of filing paperwork to obtain permits for the Kite project has begun.

Proposed Case – The Alexander Project

In 2017, as an alternative to the Kite project, Green Indy proposed the “Alexander project” seeking to rezone the property from D-P to MU-3 (mixed-use 3) (zoning case 2016-ZON-020). The MU-3 designation provides for compact uses, urban design with buildings located relatively close to the street in a pedestrian-friendly manner, and de-emphasized on-site parking. The Alexander project divided the site into two phases. Site plans were submitted for Phase 1. It has a smaller building footprint relocated to the front of the property on 86th St, less intense use (home accessory store, restaurant, and office space), and has larger intended tree preservation areas on the north side of the parking area than the Kite project. Importantly, it removes the 1.3-acre surface detention pond and instead proposes a detention system under the parking area, thus preserving the wooded slopes on the northeast side of the property.

Alexander-rendering

Alexander site plan w-phase2

Green Indy presented the Alexander project to the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC) Board of Directors for review and input. They also presented their plan to the Driftwood Hills neighborhood and the Nora Alliance. The NCC, in support of the Driftwood Hills neighborhood, opposed the proposal (the vote was 9-2 with two abstentions). DMD planning staff recommended the plan be denied. On October 4, 2017, the rezoning petition was subsequently denied by the MDC (2016-ZON-020; the vote was 5-3).

The Alexander project’s submitted development plan did not include details for Phase 2 for the north section of the property, though it did indicate that this section would remain subject to the development standards and plans of the existing (Kite project) D-P zoning (31 townhome units). A primary point of opposition was the lack of commitments for Phase 2 ensuring the vital residential component that would provide a much-needed buffer between the commercial development to the south and the single-family residential neighborhood to the north. The 2005 Indianapolis Comprehesive Plan identifies that this Critical Area is under development pressure from commercial expansion.

The “Call-Down”

With the denial of the Alexander project, Green Indy began preparing to develop the previously approved Kite project.

A clerical error by City planning staff, certifying the wrong portion/version of the Alexander Project now requires recertification, which will come before the full City-County Council on March 12. The need for recertification allows for the District Councilor, Colleen Fanning, to call-down the Alexander project in a final attempt to re-open negotiations between Green Indy and the Nora community. With its 66,000-sq ft big-box store, expansive frontage parking lot, and near clear-cutting of the site, the NCC and Nora Alliance view the Kite project as the least desirable development scenario. Therefore these organizations support the call-down as an opportunity for a better outcome.

The NCC and Nora Alliance Position

The NCC and Nora Alliance hope the Alexander project can be renegotiated in good faith to give the neighborhood and community a lower-impact development option while saving a significant portion of trees and drainage areas. Should efforts at re-negotiation with the developer be thwarted, the neighborhood will be powerless to prevent the Kite project.

Re-opening negotiations through the call-down process is an established legal process conducted by the City-County Council official legal counsel. The NCC and Nora Alliance believe this is the responsible course of action given this privately held parcel has in-place zoning and an unwavering expectation that development will occur on the site. The choice is between two potential developments. The developer’s intent to build is evident. The process of filing paperwork to obtain permits for the Kite project has begun.

Objectives of mediated negotiations through the call-down process include the following:

  • A firm, written commitment by the developer for the northern part (Phase 2) of the property for low- or medium-density residential development only (the 2005 Comprehensive Plan recommends residential development at 1.75-3.5 units per acre for these parcels)
  • Preserve as many of the area’s trees as possible, including large trees
  • Prioritize drainage through keeping natural and existing drainage mechanisms intact while adding underground stormwater storage
  • Minimize traffic impact and emphasize public safety through safe pedestrian crossings, improved infrastructure, stoplight timing, etc
  • Enhance or secure adjacent property values with the highest quality development possible
  • Potentially shrink the footprint of the structure, thus reducing the parking lot pavement

Alexander Project Tree Preservation Commitments

The Nora Community Survey (2015) ranks “neighborhood character, defined by mature trees” as one of Nora’s greatest assets (second only to the Monon Trail).

The Alexander project is held to the same tree preservation plan as the Kite project. Those commitments specify: “All non-invasive trees greater than ten caliper inches in diameter, which are healthy and disease free, as determined by an arborist shall be saved, or if removed shall be mitigated by the planting of trees at a ratio of one to one between the caliper inches of trees removed and the total caliper inches of trees replanted, either on site or in the immediate vicinity, to complement the greater community.”

With its smaller footprint and underground detention basin, the proposed Alexander project has the potential to preserve significantly more trees on-site than the Kite project.

An Unfortunate Decision – Why Didn’t the Comprehensive Plan Protect This Property?

The Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005, defines several “Critical Areas” in Washington Township, including specifically the property in question. The Comprehensive Plan intended to protect this corner from commercial development (it recommends residential). The full Comprehensive Plan recommendations for this property are available on the Nora Alliance website, Critical Area 2.

The Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC) evaluates new development proposals against several measures, only one of the measures is the Comprehensive Plan. In 2005, the MDC approved the Kite project. That approval ran counter to the Comprehensive Plan, DMD planning staff recommendations, and will of the neighborhood. It was then that, to the chagrin of our community, Nora lost the battle to protect the property in question. After the Kite Project approval, members of the Nora community fought a protracted legal battle with Indianapolis to revoke or modify this zoning. They were summarily unsuccessful. There is no remaining legal leverage with which to fight the current zoning designation.

Driftwood Hills Neighbors Position

Complicating this case is that some residents of Driftwood Hills, the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the parcel, are opposing the call-down process. Driftwood Hills residents were included in early discussion of the call-down process and, together with the NCC and Nora Alliance, Driftwood Hiils agreed to that course of action. The negotiation team was to be led by the NCC and Driftwood Hills. Subsequently, they have decided to oppose the call-down and step away from the call-down process negotiating table. This group of neighbors seeks to negotiate directly with Green Indy outside of the call-down process. They have retained outside counsel for such purposes (Russell Sipes).

Site History – A Suburban Successional Woodland

The ecological process by which an ecosystem changes and develops over time is known as succession. Aerial photos from 1937 to present day show the changes from open woodland, to suburban residential and special use, to early successional woodland.

The 1941 aerial photo shows the site as open woodland surrounded by agricultural use. This 1941 imagery depicts many individual trees, some of which reportedly remain as old large trees on the property. The eastern edges of the property are mostly clear of trees (development site outline Phase 1 & 2 is highlighted).

1941-site

By 1956, the property and surrounding neighborhood were developed as suburban residential lots. By 1979, the central parcel was largely cleared and developed with a lodge and associated parking. The 2002 aerial photo shows the site at its most developed, with homes, pools, lodge, and parking lot, while the eastern edges become more naturalized with newer trees.

2002-site

Between 2003 and 2008, the site changed ownership and structures were cleared for future development. From 2008 to present, the site has undergone early succession with volunteer vegetation moving into the area, creating a 13-acre wooded corner with a mix of young, dense trees (which may or may not include invasive species) mixed with older trees. It is reported to contain several large (300+-year-old) trees that survived through the property’s historical development.

As evidenced by the aerial photography, the currently wooded site has undergone various stages of suburban and special use development over the past 66+ years. While it is not a patch of untouched old-growth forest, the woods and large trees are of value and worth preserving to the greatest extent possible. Forests and greenspace add significant value to the Nora community. Unfortunately, however, preserving the site as parkland is not an available option.

What About “Save Haverstick Woods”?

Further complicating the call-down of the Alexander project, the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA), coined the name “Haverstick Woods” and launched a campaign to “Save Haverstick Woods.” The IFA has taken a stand of active opposition to development on the site, preferring preservation of the site as parkland. While the intentions of the IFA are admirable, they disregard the existing D-P zoning designation and the developer’s stated intent to develop the Kite project in lieu of the Alexander project.

Ignoring the reality of the existing approved commercial zoning is perilous to our community. The Kite project is widely regarded as the worst case scenario for saving the trees. Instead of supporting a renegotiation of the Alexander project through the call-down process, the IFA prefers to preserve this urban forest to “absorbing flood runoff, and buffering noise and heat, a woods where people can walk their dogs and let the kids play.” This is simply not an option given the facts of the case as we know them.

Ironically, in this case, the IFA advocating “Save Haverstick Woods” would almost assuredly guarantee its destruction if successful in preventing the call-down. “IFA’s lobbying the Council to defeat the Alexander project could very well be instrumental in that devastation,” says Ruth Hayes, president of the NCC, “NCC supports modifications of and approval by the Council to the Alexander project in order to save as many trees and as much of the environment as possible. It is shocking that, perhaps without understanding the zoning issues, IFA has stepped in to derail the only hope we have to save at least some of the woods. It’s difficult to understand why IFA would want that to be their legacy in our community.”

Seeking a Better Outcome

The NCC has requested the Alexander project be called-down for hearing before the City-County Council, with the expectation that the developer agrees to negotiate modifications of the original Alexander petition and development plans. Councilor Colleen Fanning is doing her job representing the interests of the neighborhood association on record. The Nora Alliance supports the request to reopen proceedings of the Alexander project. Together, we seek to achieve a better outcome to give the neighborhood and Nora community a lower-impact development option while saving a significant portion of trees and drainage areas.

The Nora Alliance welcomes comments to this article to correct points of fact and questions that seek further clarification. Contact us.

Update added 3/23/18 to note status of call-down negotiations.
Corrected to reflect the negotiation process is not a mediation.

Monon86map

Proposed Apartments at Ace Hardware Location 2017

UPDATE: THE PROPOSAL WAS APPROVED BY THE METROPOLITAN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION.

Monon Development Partners, LLC  has filed a rezone petition to construct Nora Apartments at 8502 Westfield Blvd, the current location of Ace Hardware. You can view details of the proposal in the public Nora Center Workgroup > Google Docs folder. You do not need a Google account to view:

Ace-Monon Development Partners-Nora Apartments-2017.pdf

The development plan will be presented at the Nora Northside Community Council public meeting on September 7 @ 7 p.m., at the Nora Library.

The Metropolitan Development Commission zoning hearing is scheduled for September 20,2017. Public hearings are held in the Second Floor Public Assembly Room of the Indianapolis/Marion County City County Building. Contact the Metropolitan Development Commission for more information.

Westfield@87th

Nora Ranks High Among City’s Most Needed Sidewalks

For all its wonderful assets (like great schools, mature trees, shopping and Monon Trail), Nora still has some of the greatest need for pedestrian infrastructure. A recent study maps Indianapolis’ missing pedestrian walkways (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use paths) and provides a tool to help identify where investment should be focused. It reveals the gaps in the pedestrian network and prioritizes each missing section based on proximity to destinations, population density, and demographic factors that may contribute to an area’s particular transit needs.

Note: The College Ave Trail from 86th St to 91st St, one of Indy’s highest ranked missing walkways, is nearing completion!

About the Map

Missing pedestrian walkway segments are color coded from low to high priority based on their proximity to available destinations, population density, and social indicators.

Using 2014 data of Indianapolis’ existing pedestrian network* as a reference (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use trails), missing walkway segments are mapped along primary and secondary arterial roads and collector streets that host major bus routes. The resulting map represent the gaps in the existing pedestrian network along the city’s main road corridors. Each missing walkway segment is then scored based its proximity to population density and social indicators (i.e., net social index concentrations). For example, segments shown in red (high priority) touch areas containing both high net population density and high scores for social indicators representing potential pedestrian infrastructure need, such as income, minority status, education, linguistic isolation, and age (2010 Census; 2013 ACS).

Additionally, missing walkway segments received scores for their proximity to 5- or 10-minute walk radius around destinations. Destinations include public libraries, college campuses, primary schools, secondary schools, vocational schools, museums, supermarkets, recreation facilities, greenways, parks, future Red Line bus rapid transit (BRT) stops, and city bus stops.

The scores for each segment are tallied and the results are used to rank the missing walkway segments from low to high in terms of their priority for future development.

City-Wide Efforts

Efforts are underway in Indianapolis to enhance walkability, as demonstrated by its recently adopted Complete Streets Ordinance and the Health By Design et.al. Indy WalkWays initiative. A large land area and limited budget require the City find tools and strategies to efficiently and effectively develop and maintain its infrastructure. This includes finding ways to prioritize the types of pedestrian infrastructure needed to enhance walkability, and the location of that infrastructure.

Westfield@87th

The map of Nora is part of a city-wide study of Indy’s Most Needed Pedestrian Walkways by Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Ph.D. Jill is a resident of Nora.

86th Street & Monon Trail crossing

Better Crosswalks Mean a More Walkable Nora

Great crosswalks send the message that people who walk are important.

Improving walkability doesn’t always have to mean significant infrastructure investment. An important part of a more walkable Nora is enhancing the pedestrian infrastructure that we already have. This includes maintaining crosswalks that allow pedestrians to safely and comfortably cross busy street traffic.

nora-crosswalks-overview

The Nora Alliance recently submitted a request to the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) for crosswalk maintenance. The request addresses immediate needs at 6 intersections in central Nora with high volume of pedestrians in substantial conflict with vehicular traffic. These are primarily existing crosswalks in need of paint marking maintenance and minor enhancements. Most are already signalized for pedestrians.

 

nora-crosswalks-2

Monon Trail @ 86th St Crossing – Repainting the crosswalk for the Monon crossing at 86th St. This crosswalk is very heavily used. We request the width of the crosswalk be increased, if possible, to better accommodate the higher volume of people walking, riding bikes, skating, and wheelchairs often all crossing at the same time. Additionally, we request that new “piano key” (or diagonal) crosswalk lines be painted at the bank and shopping center parking lots ingress/egresses that crosses the trail.

Complete Streets Nora Crosswalk Westfield Blvd at 86th St
86th & Westfield Blvd – This is the main intersection between the high school / middle school campuses and central Nora / Monon Trail. We request repainting the crosswalks with the “piano key” style.

Complete Streets Nora Crosswalk 86th St at NCHS
86th St @ North Central High School – We request “piano key” style painting of the signalized crosswalks at 86th St (a main entrance to North Central HS), and adding crosswalk painting on the northside of 86th St.

nora-crosswalks-5
Westfield Blvd & YMCA/Northview Middle School – We request repainting school crosswalk and adding crosswalk across the YMCA parking lot entrance/exit.

nora-crosswalks-6
86th St & Evergreen – We request repainting crosswalks in the “piano Key” style at this busy intersection just west of the Monon Trail.

nora-crosswalks-7
86th St & Guilford – We request repainting of crosswalks at the public library with “piano key” style, with the addition of crosswalk lines on the northside of 86th St at Guilford.

Of course, maintaining existing crosswalks is just one piece of the bigger picture. Want a more walkable Nora? Join us on November 21 as we identify potential projects for the Nora community #NORA2021.

College-ave-trail-progress_20151020

PROGRESS: College Avenue Trail

Construction is nearing completion on the College Avenue Trail! The project will provide a safe pedestrian off-street trail along this often congested section of College Avenue between 86th St. and 91st St. that currently has no sidewalks or shoulder.

Getting an off-street pedestrian trail or new sidewalks in a community can take years of hard work. Indeed, for the past 3- to 4- years several people in Nora have been advocating for an off-street trail along College Avenue between 86th Street and 91st Street. Some of the people spearheading the trail include George Robinson, former athletic director at First Baptist Church, Barry Wood, and members of Hope Church. It serves as an example of what community pro-active planning can achieve.

Early details on the project are provided by Benjamin Easley, Public Information Officer / Department of Public Works:

  • The College Avenue Trail will be an off-street asphalt trail similar to the one on 91stStreet.  The trail on 91st Street narrows down to a sidewalk at 91st/College
  • There will be a crosswalk connection at the signal at 91st/College
  • The College Ave trail will be on the west side of the road
  • There will be pedestrian signals at 86th/College as well as 91st/College

Thanks to ReBuildIndy, DPW, and all the people involved in making this trail happen.

There is a community sidewalk dedication/celebration at First Baptist Church on November 22 at 11:30 – the public is welcome!

Nora-CompPlan2005

Indy’s Comprehensive Plan and Nora’s Critical Areas

The Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005, defines several Critical Areas in Washington Township. New development proposals are measured against this plan. Here we zoom-in on Nora, and highlight our three most Critical Areas as defined by that plan.

 

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP CRITICAL AREAS

Critical Area 1

Location: 86th Street between Meridian Street and College Avenue.

Why critical: This portion of 86th Street is primarily residential in nature, and includes two churches in the area. The residential areas are under development pressure from commercial expansion. If commercial development were allowed on any of these parcels, several more parcels on 86th Street could be in line to convert to commercial development as well. It is critical to protect the existing residential nature of this portion of 86th Street from any commercial development encroachment.

Recommendations:

  • Restrict commercial development from this portion of 86th Street and its cross streets as shown on the plan.
  • Any new development should be sensitive to the existing high water table, and lack of adequate drainage. No new development should occur without sewer hookups that include additional capacity to allow surrounding properties to hook up. Storm water runoff should be controlled by the use of retention or detention ponds where applicable.
  • If the church at 8600 North College Avenue relocates and the site is not occupied by another Special Use, this site should be developed as a park if feasible. If a park is not feasible, the residential housing in the density of 3.5 to 5.0 units per acre should be developed with some land set aside for open space. There is a critical need for parkland in this area. Commercial development should not occur on this site.
  • The Land Use recommendation for the southeast corner of 86th and Meridian Streets is residential development greater than 5.00 and equal to or less than 8.00 units per acre. The preferred form of this land use recommendation is condominiums. Should this site be developed according to this land use recommendation, it should conform to the following:
    • It is recommended that all twelve parcels be developed in a compatible way, as one project if possible, and avoid piecemeal development.
    • Design of the buildings on site should be respectful of, and in character with, the quality of nearby residential structures. This includes building height, setback requirements, enclosed attached parking, drainage, location of services, low level signage, and lighting contained on site.
    • Conservation of the surrounding trees and the trees on the Meridian Street and 86th Street frontages is of particular importance. These should be adapted into any future development plans for the site, whether as one development, or as parcels are developed individually. Large, native trees are of special concern.
    • Sidewalks should be provided.
    • All parcels should share a single exit/entrance on 86th Street, and a singleexit/entrance on Meridian Street.
    • Residences should face outward, towards Meridian Street and 86th Street withvehicular access to the rear.
Critical Area 2

Location: North side of 86th Street between Cholla Road and Keystone Avenue.

Why critical: The north side of 86th Street is primarily residential in nature. The residential areas are under development pressure from commercial expansion. There is no significant barrier west of Keystone Avenue to stop the process of commercial encroachment on 86th Street. If commercial development were allowed on any of these parcels, several more parcels on 86th Street could be in line to convert to commercial development as well. It is critical to protect the existing residential nature of this portion of 86th Street from any commercial development.

Recommendations:

  • Restrict retail and office development to the south of 86th Street, and east of Woodfield Crossing Boulevard as shown on map.
  • Retail and office development should not encroach upon areas of existing or planned residential development.
  • If the church at 2720 East 86th street relocates and the site is not occupied by another Special Use, this site should be developed as residential housing in the density of 3.5 to 5.0 units per acre. Commercial development should not occur on this site.
  • The Land Use recommendation for the northeast corner of 86th Street and Haverstick Road is residential development greater than 8.00 and equal to or less than 15.00 units per acre. The preferred form of this land use recommendation is multi-family units. Should this site be developed according to this land use recommendation, it should conform to the following:
    • It is recommended that all five parcels be developed in a compatible way, as one project if possible, and avoid piecemeal development.
    • Design of the buildings on site should be respectful of, and in character with, the quality of nearby residential structures. This includes building height, setback requirements, enclosed attached parking, drainage, location of services, low level signage, and lighting contained on site.
    • Have exit/entrances only on Haverstick Road that line up with the exit/entrances of the church to the west.
    • All parcels should share these exit/entrances whether as one project development or as piecemeal development.
    • Conservation of the surrounding trees is of particular importance. These should be adapted into any future development plans for the site, whether as one development, or as parcels are developed individually.
    • In some places steep slopes greater than 10% exist. These slopes should be minimally developed, if at all, so that they may retain any forest cover and avoid soil erosion.
Critical Area 9

Location: Westfield Boulevard from 79th Street to Oxbow Way

Why Critical: The eastside of Westfield Boulevard is predominantly residential with a few parcels of commercial uses between Helen Drive to the north and 74th Street to the south. North of 75th Street, both sides of Westfield Boulevard are residential. There is some pressure along Westfield Boulevard and throughout the Critical Area to convert existing single-family residential properties to commercial uses or higher intensity residential uses. Contributing factors are the heavy use of the Monon trail, heavy traffic on Westfield Boulevard and expansion of commercial and higher intensity residential land uses from the south out of Broad Ripple. Demolition of multiple, adjacent, existing single-family properties would have a destabilizing effect on the character of the neighborhood. It is critical to protect the residential areas between the Monon Rail-Trail and the river and to avoid the incremental increase of office and commercial uses along Westfield Boulevard.

The significant amount of natural open space and wildlife habitat which remains along the White River and within Marrott Park also contribute to this area’s unique character. A considerable amount of woodland, steep slopes and the 100-year floodplain make it critical that development in this area be sensitive to the environment. Park recommendation in the lower portion of the area has potential to provide good canoe access to the White River. It is critical to provide adequate parkland for existing and future population.

Recommendations:

  • Limit expansion of the non-residential uses that exist near 75th Street and Westfield Boulevard as shown on map. Commercial and industrial development should not encroach upon areas of existing or planned residential development.
  • Develop the vacant parcel in the southern portion of this area as a park as shown on map.
  • Intensification of housing densities should not occur within the 100-year floodplain.
  • Preserve areas in the floodway as conservation areas. Dense vegetative cover along stream banks is important for erosion control, contamination capture, water cooling (critical for retaining oxygen levels) and habitat preservation.
  • The wooded areas designated as Environmentally Sensitive should be preserved.
The Future: Plan 2020

2016 Comprehensive Plan Update: Countywide Update

The full update to the countywide Comprehensive Land Use Plan is being held until 2016.  Internal development of the land use classification system and design of the public process is underway.

Looking Ahead

Plan 2020 seeks to create a unified, countywide comprehensive plan that updates, incorporates, or replaces the existing 135 planning documents.  It will include performance indicators for land use types, providing more clarity about how different uses perform on transportation, economic, tax base, and environmental criteria. The updated plan will focus on keeping and attracting residents to Marion County by planning for 21st century amenities and lifestyles.  Particular focus will be paid to places in the county likely to see change, including transit corridors and cultural districts, and to integrate land use planning with transportation, economic development, Downtown, parks and recreations and strategic public investments.

RedLine-Nora

Public Meetings on Red Rapid Transit Project

IndyGo will host several public meetings where you can learn about the first phase of Red Rapid Transit Project (which is anticipated to: stretch from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis), ask questions, and have your voice heard during the engineering phase. This August IndyGo representatives will be in the following locations:

  • Aug. 18 – Central Library: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • 40 E St. Clair St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
    • IndyGo Routes 18, 38, & 39
  • Aug. 19 – College Avenue Branch: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • 4180 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205
    • IndyGo Route 17
  • Aug. 24 – Fountain Square Branch: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
    • 1066 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203
    • IndyGo Routes 12, 14, & 22
  • Aug. 26 – Indianapolis Art Center: 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    • 820 E 67th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220
    • IndyGo Route 18
  • Aug. 27 – IUPUI Campus Center: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
    • 420 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202
    • IndyGo Routes 3, 37, & 50
Westfield@87th

Walkability High on Nora’s Wishlist

Walkability is high on the list of priorities identified by attendees of the first Nora Alliance meeting – nearly half (48%) of the submitted comments revolve around sidewalks, trails, pedestrian connectivity, safe routes and walkability.

Safe communities are livable communities. Here we focus on a few of the critical safety concerns – our arterial roads – that call out for complete streets in Nora.

A Critical Safety Issue

A 2014 report, Dangerous by Design, by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition finds that ‘incomplete’ streets are a major culprit in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Arterials designed only for cars, such as Ditch Road, College Avenue, and Westfield Boulevard in Nora, are the most dangerous.

Westfield Blvd needs complete streets
Westfield Blvd needs complete streets walkable bikeable

We’ve all seen it – school kids, families, elderly, handicapped, bikes, cars and buses sharing some of the same Nora streets every day (and night). There are a few particular offenders. These are arterial streets near schools, churches, shopping, and bus stops, having typically 40-MPH speed limits and no shoulder. The lack of sidewalks and/or off-street multi-use paths poises serious concern for pedestrians and motorists alike.

In the United States, in the decade from 2003 through 2012, more than 47,000 people died while walking on our streets. That is 16 times the number of people who died in natural disasters during in the same ten years. In 2012, pedestrians accounted for nearly 15 percent of all traffic deaths, up 6 percent from 2011 and representing a five-year high.

What Do You Think We Need For Nora?

As we work together towards proactive planning and livability issues, let’s look at how to make Nora’s streets safer for everyone.

Last summer (July 2014), City officials reached out and asked for what the public wants to see done.

“So we encourage them to contact their councilors, come with letters for them to sign that we can deliver to their councilors,” said Department of Public Works spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “You know, anything we can do to continue to draw attention to the need for the Rebuild Indy 2 plan and get people excited about it and let them know it’s not going to happen unless they contact their representative.” (WTHR)

If we are asked again, will we have a collective response for the Nora area? Use the comment section below to share your story about walkable / bikeable streets.