Southern Indiana

Highlander Point has historically been a small, but vital commercial center for the rural, hilltop communities of Floyd County.

It’s home to the Floyds Knobs’ only full-service grocery store, a medical center and restaurants. But the area could take on a more residential look now that Floyd County Commissioners have approved a rezoning request for a nearby patch of land.

“With the current businesses there, it’s a perfect area for growth with neighborhoods, houses and that type of stuff there,” said Shawn Carruthers, president of the commissioners. “It’s kind of moving from a rural area to a more, I guess you’d call it suburban type of area there.”

Developers asked commissioners to rezone part of the area from commercial to residential so they can build more than 200 single-family homes. They are also planning a new bank with retail space as part of the project. 

Highlander Point sits near the intersection of Interstate 64 and Highway 150, about 10 minutes from the Sherman Minton Bridge. Carruthers said it’s a “gateway” to the county, with easy access from nearby communities like Floyds Knobs, Galena and Georgetown.

Carruthers said the land has been designated a “high-density growth area” in Floyd County’s master plan for decades. He says that’s why the county’s plan commission unanimously recommended the rezoning last month. The Floyd County Commissioners voted to approve the rezoning Tuesday evening.

“This subdivision did fit all the plans for what we want to see in Floyd County, for its growth in this area,” Carruthers said. “I think it’s a perfect place.”

But some residents are concerned about overdevelopment in the once-rural community. Dale Mann has been a Floyd County resident for nearly 70 years, and said he’s concerned about the rate of residential growth in the area.

“The people in this county wanted to keep this area as rural and open as possible,” he said. “And it seems like everything is going the other way. Everybody in charge in this county seems to be planning houses on top of houses.”

To Mann, more houses means overcrowding without the benefits of business tax revenues.

“This county really needs more commercial, but all we’ve got is homes and houses, and the tax base is not there,” he said. “And that also brings the population and our schools are getting overcrowded.”

Floyd County officials say infrastructure improvements would accompany the development to support the growth. Director of Operations Don Lopp said the county already intended to improve that section of Old Vincennes Road in 2026 as part of phase 3 of its capital plan.

If the subdivisions and retail building plans advance, Lopp said the Old Vincennes Road improvement would move up to 2022-2023. Schrieber Road, one of the boundaries of Highlander Point, would be extended across Old Vincennes to serve as an entryway for the two new subdivisions. That intersection would become a four-way stop with a new traffic light.

Lopp said those changes would be adequate for the traffic that the new housing would bring, according to an impact study that was released last month.

“Actually, putting in that signal actually improved traffic [in the study], along with the improvements to the three lanes that we had already had planned,” he said. “How we are right now in terms of the proposed improvements, that should accommodate the traffic that’s going to be generated over the next 10 years from the development of that subdivision.”

Carruthers said they’re taking complaints from those opposed to the development seriously. But as a suburb of Louisville, he said growth is inevitable.

“What we want to focus on is smart growth,” Carruthers said. “We cannot stop growth, but we can definitely guide it and make sure that it makes sense for Floyd County.”

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.