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More questions than answers at Lanesville interchange meeting

More questions than answers at Lanesville interchange meeting
More questions than answers at Lanesville interchange meeting
Doug Sellers of Birch Trautwein & Mims Inc. consulting firm in Louisville answers questions about the I-64 Lanesville interchange following an informational meeting Thursday night. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

About 150 people turned out last week for an informational meeting about the Lanesville interchange of Interstate 64 looking for answers, but instead they asked numerous questions.
They wanted to know things like: “How close are we talking about to the interchange?”; “How far east on Corydon Ridge Road would be developed?”, and “If the residents don’t want any more multi-family dwellings in the area, how can we make sure that doesn’t happen?”
Phil Bills, an engineer with Birch Trautwein & Mims Inc. of Louisville and former member of the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission, facilitated the meeting Thursday night at the Lanesville Junior-Senior High School.
Birch Trautwein & Mims was selected from five firms that completed requests for proposals by the plan commission earlier this year. The firm is to make a recommendation about how the 10-square-mile area around the interchange can best be developed.
“We’ve not developed a plan at this point,” Bills told the audience. “We’re looking for your input.
“We’ll take your comments back and develop them into the final concept,” he said.
Bills, a 17-year resident of Harrison County, explained that the study area extends from the Lanesville interchange to the Floyd County line. The south boundary is Ponderosa Road; S.R. 64 is the north boundary, and the Angel Run/Racoon roads border the area to the west.
The Lanesville interchange, as Bills pointed out, is on a county road. “You very rarely see anything like that … interchanges are usually on state highways,” he said.
According to census data, Franklin Township’s population grew 18 percent between 1990 and 2000.
“Harrison County is an attractive place to live” because of its proximity to Louisville and the availability of land, Bills said
Some comparisons were made between the Lanesville interchange and the Blankenbaker interchange on the east side of Louisville. Both interchanges are the same distance from downtown Louisville, but the Blankenbaker exit has experienced tremendous development in the last few years.
One major infrastructure lacking at the Lanesville exit is a wastewater treatment plant, Bills said.
Water companies that serve the area have improved water main lines.
“If the residential population continues to grow the way it has been, there will be a sewer plant” built there in the near future, Bills said.
One person said: “So it’s already been decided the interchange will be developed; it’s just a question of what.”
“We can ignore it and just let it happen, or we can come up with a plan and guide that growth,” Bills replied. “The thing you want to do is plan and guide the growth.”
Rather than getting much input about what they would like to see happen around the interchange, residents were quick to say want they don’t want.
One man said he wouldn’t mind seeing restaurants and hotels as much as he would industrial businesses.
“What I don’t want to see is a nightmare like you have at Corydon,” said a woman referring to the S.R. 135/Landmark Avenue area. An outburst of applause followed her comment.
Bills said, “Failure to plan is a plan to failure.”
There was discussion about how development in the area probably won’t happen overnight.
“This plan will look at total build-out,” Bills said. “That can happen in 10 years; it may take 20 years.”
“We’re looking at a very large area to determine what’s suitable,” he said. “There are areas that are already developed residential. Those need to be protected; we need to make sure the homes have adequate buffer around them … but there’s a lot of land suitable for development.”
Lanesville native Donald J. Hussung, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Lanesville Community School Corp., reminded the audience that if development had been stopped many years ago, “probably 50 percent of the people here tonight wouldn’t be here.
“We need to tailor something to fit our needs,” he said.
Another man expressed concern that “we’re going to get a desirable plan and run it off again” like one he said was presented in the 1970s.
Birch Trautwein will incorporate the group’s comments into a preliminary plan that should be ready for another public meeting in a couple of months. They will make copies available to the Harrison County Plan & Zoning Office for viewing prior to the meeting, where they will again take comments.
“We will listen,” Bills said. “Chances are not everyone’s going to be happy.”