The Zionsville Plan Commission voted in favor of the transportation plan at the Tuesday, Jan. 18, plan commission meeting.
The commission motioned to adopt the plan, with the stipulation that it be “further studied and updated,” when ushered to the Zionsville Town Council, said plan commission president Allan Rachles.
The transportation plan includes the recommendation that a Cooper Road interchange be built two miles east of I-65 in order to assist with traffic growth on Ind. 334, Ford Road and Zionsville Road. This plan was first introduced in a transportation plan more than 20 years ago and has since seen considerable debate.
Plan commissioners Peter Hawryluk and Wayne Haynes opposed the transportation plan.
“The economy isn’t where it needs to be yet,” Hawryluk said, followed by a loud applause.
Hawryluk said that there are five interchanges which are not being recognized as sufficient interchanges. He noted that there is an interchange on Michigan Road, 86th Street, Ind. 334, Lafayette Road and County Road 300 South.
“There are good parts to the plan, but I object to the interchange itself,” Hawryluk said. “There was a study done in 2007, which was pretty clear. It stated that we should improve the roads we already have. I don’t see the point of a new study.”
According to plan commissioner Kevin Schiferl, it would be an “abomination” if the transportation plan were to not pass, simply over the disagreements concerning Cooper Road.
“There are other parts of this plan,” Schiferl said. “The rest (of the plan) is sound.”
Schiferl said that many housing additions were constructed under the assumption that a future Cooper Road interchange would be built to help with traffic and access. Thornhill, Clifton Pond, Spring Knoll and Rock Bridge were several of the named subdivisions that were promised an additional interchange.
“They’re here so we have to defend them,” Schiferl said.
Town Engineer Mark DeBruler of Beam, Longest and Neff L.L.C. said that travel trips will double in Zionsville within the next 25 years.
“We have to build upon what we have,” DeBruler said.
A larger than average crowd of Zionsville and Pike Township residents were in attendance at the meeting, claiming that an additional interchange is unnecessary. Property owners in the Hunt Club Road area are concerned that an additional interchange will disrupt rural Zionsville.
“We don’t want to see it. U.S. 421 is bad enough,” said Zionsville resident Steve Laithrop. “And I can guarantee my taxes will go up.”
Laithrop said he fears more development will be a distraction from the essential traits that make Zionsville the town it is today.
“They will start developing and soon enough people will bypass Zionsville altogether,” Laithrop said.
PikeTownshipresident Kristen Otis said her family will be negatively affected if the Cooper Road interchange is built.
“I’m very disappointed,” Otis said. “They are not even considering the families within the 10 mile radius of where the interchange will be.”
Town Councilwoman Valerie Swack said she has received an overwhelmingly large amount of e-mails from people not in favor of the Cooper Road interchange.
“I’ve been elected as a representative of the people,” Swack said. “So I need to consider what the people are saying.”
Swack said she recommends that a vision statement and land use plan be done as soon as possible to ensure that moving forward with the interchange is appropriate for the town.
“If we don’t do this soon, we could be building an interchange to nowhere,” Swack said.
Former Boone County Commissioner Wendy Brant echoed Swack’s concern, stating that a land use plan should have been done directly after the consolidation of Zionsville.
“We should have first gathered the people to prioritize and decide on what we were,” Brant said. “I feel the public has been cut out of this process.”
Brant said no transportation plan should have been done before a clear vision for Zionsville was agreed upon with the people.
“I have a lot of experience doing this,” Brant said. “But we had a rushed marriage here. A transportation plan should support the people’s vision, not dictate it.”
The transportation plan will be further discussed at the next town council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, in the Bev Harves Room at Town Hall.