Community

Several new residential developments in the works in Floyd County, Ind., have some citizens concerned about rapid growth in the area.

Indiana State Road 64 was once lined with farmland and empty fields. But recent decades have seen the area explode into a popular suburb of nearby cities like New Albany and Louisville, both of which sit a short distance away on Interstate 64.

At least five new subdivisions have either been proposed or are currently under construction along the strip. If all were to move forward as planned, nearly 900 total housing units would be added to a two-mile stretch of the two-lane highway.

On Monday, the Floyd County Plan Commission will consider a rezoning proposal that would clear the way for one of the more sizable subdivisions being proposed. Developers are looking to bring a 141-lot neighborhood to a vacant patch of land on West Willis Road, a small frontage road that runs along the interstate.

“A lot of people like the 64 corridor,” Floyd County resident Logan Eberle said. “It has just a little bit more of a family vibe to it. It’s not quite as built up. You still get a country vibe, even though you’re minutes away from Louisville and a lot of people really just cherish that. And I’m starting to believe there’s a disconnect with the Floyd County comprehensive plan and what the local residents are seeing every day.”

Eberle lives in Lakeland Estates, a small neighborhood adjacent to the property that would be developed for the West Willis Road project. He said he does not believe the area is suited for a project of that magnitude.

John Boyle | wfpl.org

Floyd County resident Logan Eberle, standing at the site of one of the proposed developments.

In response to the plan, he and about 40 of his neighbors have banded together to protest the development.

“Some of the biggest concerns that we have is the traffic,” Eberle said. “The road is a narrow, dead-end road. We don’t feel it would support the traffic that this subdivision is going to bring. We’re also concerned about emergency vehicles being able to access the area. If something were to happen, it will be the only road that will access the neighborhood. Not to mention the school population.”

Children of families who move into the proposed subdivision would likely attend school in Georgetown, a town of around 3,400 people. According to New Albany Floyd County Schools Superintendent Brad Snyder, Georgetown Elementary was already at 109% capacity last year.

Georgetown Town Council President Chris Loop said that though the five projects are outside of the town’s limits, they would inevitably impact it. All would connect with Georgetown’s sewer system.

Loop added that an influx of residents would also put further strain on roads that already see a significant amount of traffic. Novapark Innovation & Technology Campus, a commerce center in development along the highway, is set to host more than 400 jobs, potentially adding to congestion in the area.

“I do think that county government needs to take a hard look at basically improving funding for roadway infrastructure, not only for its creation, but obviously its long-term maintenance,” he said. “We have several back roads that I would consider the main corridors if you’re in the Georgetown area that in my opinion have kind of become deficient, and really need some love and TLC. I do think that the county government really needs to take a look at the funding mechanisms for that, and if they can improve the maintenance plan for things like milling and repaving for a lot of those roadways.”

But Loop said he knows that growth in the area is inevitable, given the quality of the schools and other factors like low tax rates. He just wants to make sure that growth works for all parties involved.

Despite the potential infrastructure limitations, Loop did note the benefits of increasing housing availability around Georgetown. More residents could lead to the area becoming home to other amenities, like restaurants and shopping centers. The property in the vicinity of the interstate — referred to as Edwardsville Gateway — has previously been eyed as a potential location for a town center and greenspace that would surround the area’s historic core.

Floyd County Commissioner Tim Kamer represents Georgetown and the surrounding area on the board. He said that he’s been in discussions with local residents about the growth, with many pointing to infrastructure and schools as their main concern.

While he’s pro-growth, he wants to make sure that the county doesn’t only see residential development moving forward.

“We’re looking for intentional growth,” Kamer said. “Not growth for growth’s sake, but making sure that there’s really a demand for houses, that we’re not going to have a bunch of vacant houses sitting out there… I’d like to see an equal number of jobs and companies come into this area to create jobs, which in turn will create more demand for housing. But just to have nothing but houses and neighborhoods throughout the county, I think, is not a wise move.”

Eberle said that some of his neighbors are worried about attending Monday’s meeting due to COVID-19. He added that residents sometimes go into battles over developments such as this one with defeated attitudes, and because of that do not take the time to voice their opinions.

But he is encouraging his neighbors to come to the meeting if they feel comfortable, or to write to county officials in lieu of attending.

“A lot of people have that attitude, and they don’t let anybody know,” he said. “So the people who are in charge, people who are making decisions, really do not know how the community feels.”

The meeting is Monday, August 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Pineview Government Center Gymnasium (2524 Corydon Pike).

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.