Meridian~Kessler Neighborhood
Meridian~Kessler Neighborhood
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MK Plan Meeting Minutes, April 9

38th Street from Central Ave to Meridian

The discussion began with a description of the Meridian Kessler Plan mission, which is tri partite; with a focus upon the Form Based Code which, with the assistance of the City, will progress to a Regulating Plan which overlay our current Zoning Plan, followed by suggestions by neighbors of acceptable uses for future development, and the addition of a 25 year long range infrastructure plan.

Throughout the discussion was a gentle reminder of the reason we have chosen to live in this neighborhood ie: it’s remarkable diversity and excellent co-existence, and to take care that any improvements will provide a benefit for ALL the neighbors. The theme of “Co existence to maintain economic diversity” is essential to success.

As to the actual “form” of Form Based Code

Neighbors are comfortable with the architectural diversity manifest in this area.  They prefer no huge concrete/massive building structures, and feel that buildings with a common entryway would provide a lovely focus for any new building.  It was suggested that unity of the diverse architectural features currently in existence, could be provided with contiguous sidewalks, unified style of signage, lighting, landscaping.

They suggested an openness to the number of stories to any new building–with no pre set limit.  They support the importance of overall proportionality as to building height/set back etc, so as to avoid a sense of confinement when walking in the area, but feel that, if needed, a building of greater height could be accommodated in the area, so long as it “fits in” with the other surrounding structures. The point was made that those buildings situated closer to single family homes will need some appropriate transition in building height to accomodate neighbors.

The concept of “Village Mixed Use” with the first floor dedicated to retail, and living space above was acceptable to those in attendance.

The group did not want any more strip malls.

As to potential uses

It was expressed that banking branches are welcome in the area.

Neighbors would like to see more Restaurants. The suggestion of a Hotel or Bed and Breakfast would be acceptable.  The possibility of a living center for Seniors wanting to move from their large homes but desiring to remain in the neighborhood, or young couples just starting out in the neighborhood would be excellent.

The point was made that for successful commercial development, we need an increase in density–this was acceptable to residents.

A neighborhood grocery would be very welcome.  Neighbors do not want a “mega store”, but felt some type of boutique grocery with reasonable pricing, would be quite welcome.

As to Infrastructure and Streetscape

Uniform lighting, signage, and landscaping could improve the “connectivity” of the diverse architectural elements in this area.

Emphasis upon pedestrian and bicycle passage was made.  The suggestion of the possibility of a “Culture Trail” type concept with a wider “sidewalk”, nicely delineated, with a dedicated bike passage alongside a dedicated pedestrian passage was well received. Landscaping on this passage would further enhance its “walkability” and protect pedestrians.  The comment was made that in European cities, often the bicycle lane is between the sidewalk and the parallel parking, with the parked cars then providing protection for cyclists.

It was suggested that for the blocks from 38th to 40th on Meridian, the properties should be “connected” by contiguous sidewalks to promote a sense of continuity.

Improved, unifying landscaping would be very much appreciated.

Bus Rapid Transit was discussed. Some concern was expressed that the service might not be able to accommodate enough people to impact the high level of automobile usage currently in play. The comment was made that even a 20% reduction in the number of cars traversing the street would be a marked improvement in the sense of well being for pedestrians and cyclists. A neighbor had concerns that a dedicated lane for bus transit, thereby limiting the number of lanes for drivers, might direct traffic onto smaller streets within the neighborhood. It was noted that in some cases, transit could provide for buses which would share the lanes with automobiles at areas of greater congestion, and use dedicated lanes in other areas.

The concept of “shared parking” of commercial areas was well received.  It was noted that improvement in the signage for the parking exit from the garage at 40th and Meridian is needed.  It was also noted that part of the Tarkington Park Plan includes parallel parking along all four sides of the Park.  This parking would be made available from the park property itself, so as not to limit the width of the streets.

Improvement in the traffic control at Meridian and 40th will be appreciated.

An extensive discussion of the TIF funding recently made available ensued.  These funds may be used, in part, to draw in appropriate development with the aid of improvement to infrastructure and public elements of the buildings (such as facade improvements/visually appealing parking, etc).

The discussion ended with the request for delineation of the steps necessary form completion of this process, beginning with the initial input from neighbors such as the above discussion, to implementation of the final Regulating Plan–the formal document approved by the City County Council, and which DMD will consult in all questions of development and variances for this area.

We briefly reviewed the process by which the Neighbor Discussions become translated to the ultimate Regulating Plan:

1. Keith Holdsworth, Principal Planner for DMD, will draft a Neighborhood Plan based on the meetings conducted by the neighborhood. The draft will need to include a land use component.

2. Keith will organize the DMD effort to take the necessary measurements (rights of way, sidewalks, etc.) for nodes within the studied areas. He will work with the Steering Committee to determine what exactly they need.

3. This information will then be used by a paid architect intern to compose three dimensional perspective drawings of these nodes in alignment with Form-Based Code. (The paid architect intern will be selected from Ball State Architectural students applying for the position.  MKNA has offered to provide the $4000 stipend. The Steering Committee will meet with the final 2-3 candidates vetted by our architect volunteers.  The final candidates will make a brief presentation to the committee before the final selection takes place.)

4. Our architect volunteers sitting on the Steering Committee will review these drawings.

5. The drawings will be placed in public areas such as the College Library, Bank of Indianapolis, perhaps the entry way of Fresh Market (Polly will explore these options as we are nearer to this time frame) so that neighbors may review them.

6. We will have 2-3 open meetings with all neighbors in order to gain further feedback on the plans.

7. Keith will then translate the above material into the Vision Plan, which will be included as part of the Neighborhood Plan.

8. The Neighborhood Plan may move forward after the following:

  • a. Approval by MKNA Board of Directors (per DMD, essential to their implementing the plan)
  • b. Presentation to the Meridian-Kessler neighbors via an All Neighborhood Meeting, tentatively scheduled for Spring of 2014, with a show of support from neighbors
  • c. Approval by the Metropolitan Development Commission

9. Using the Vision Plan and the NV zoning district framework, the Steering Committee or its assignees will develop the Regulating Plan. Upon it’s completion, the Steering Committee will need to build support in the community and approval by most of the affected property owners before presenting the document for approval by the Metropolitan Development Commission and then by the City-County Council.  Keith can provide guidance and some assistance in this, but the Steering Committee is the responsible party.

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