A developer plans to build 172 single-family homes and 176 paired villas on about 112 acres off Fortville Pike on Fortville’s south side. In the rendering, the yellow lots represent the single-family homes while the orange ones represent the villas. Submitted image
A developer plans to build 172 single-family homes and 176 paired villas on about 112 acres off Fortville Pike on Fortville’s south side. In the rendering, the yellow lots represent the single-family homes while the orange ones represent the villas. Submitted image
ORTVILLE — In response to residents’ apprehensions about traffic, town officials included a restriction on entrances in their approval of a 348-home neighborhood. Concerns remain, however, over that decision preceding a traffic study on the project.

Olthof Homes, based in St. John in Lake County, plans to develop 172 single-family houses and 176 paired villas on about 112 acres at the northeast corner of Fortville Pike and County Road 850N. The site, to be called Beyers Estates, is across Fortville Pike from the Mt. Vernon North neighborhood that’s underway.

Fortville Town Council unanimously approved rezoning the site to a planned unit development, which sets specific development standards. In Beyers Estates’ case, that includes exterior standards like no vinyl, but rather fiber cement siding, and each home being required to have some masonry.

The approval follows the Fortville Plan Commission’s favorable recommendation of the proposal with the condition that Olthof Homes commission a traffic impact analysis and implement its findings. Plan commission members added the condition after hearing from residents in the area concerned about the increase in traffic the neighborhood will bring to Fortville Pike and County Road 850N.

Derek Hays, land acquisition and entitlement manager for Olthof Homes, said the company has no objection to the study.

“We’re agreeing to whatever makes the most sense trafficwise and is acceptable to the town — we will implement,” he said.

Beyers Estates is currently designed to have one entrance off Fortville Pike and three off County Road 850N. Three on 850 is too many, several current residents in the area say.

“I think one would be plenty,” said Terry Wheeler.

Getting onto Fortville Pike from 850 is problematic enough as it is, she added.

“The traffic is just terrible,” she said.

Olthof Homes has committed to widening 850 by 4 feet along the neighborhood.

But Wheeler fears that will do little good, predicting many Beyers Estates residents will want to avoid Fortville Pike by heading east on 850 where it will soon become a narrow county road once again.

Hays said Olthof Homes is amenable to fewer access points off 850.

“The three entrances is not a deal-breaker for us,” he said. “We’re not tied to it.”

That led town council members to add a stipulation to their approval that the neighborhood could have no more than two entrances off 850 regardless of what the traffic analysis concludes.

“I don’t know what the traffic study’s going to show, but the residents out there don’t want more than two,” said Becky Davis, a town council member.

Some felt it would be wiser to wait for the study to be completed, including Scott Meyer, a member of the town’s plan commission.

“I hear all of the comments from the public, the residents out there,” he said. “I agree with all of them. But from my perspective, it’s a little hard to put that restriction on when you don’t know what the professionals are going to say.”

Shawn Nugent, who lives near the Beyers Estates site, also encouraged council members to wait.

“If you’re going to approve something, let’s get it right,” he said.

Olthof Homes didn’t want to delay, however, and the firm along with the town council members didn’t feel the traffic study would conflict with the entrance limit on 850.

“Our preference would be to ask for approval tonight and keep it moving,” Hays said. “... I’m not a traffic expert; I don’t foresee it saying it requires three entrances. We’re OK putting a cap at two.”
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