PENDLETON — Foster coming growth from the Indianapolis area while retaining the small-town historic charm of Pendleton.
That’s the challenge a 15-member steering committee has been tackling since February 2017 while compiling the town’s first Comprehensive Plan in more than a decade. The committee unveiled a draft of the final plan Tuesday with around 30 members of the public attending.
After a short presentation the attendees were encouraged to add their own input on each of the plan’s goals by writing them on large boards or adding sticky notes with their opinions.
“We were really looking at what the residents, what people, want Pendleton to be in the future,” said Rachel Christensen, assistant planning director for the town. “Basically, the question is: If you got to choose how Pendleton grows, what would you chose?”
The main body of the plan revolves around the creation of a Future Land Use Map that outlines zoning restrictions and building material or layout restrictions for neighborhoods and businesses.
Much of the area to the town’s west is reserved for planned business agricultural and single-family residential building. Areas along Interstate 69 near the exit are also slated for planned business and the downtown includes a multi-color quilt of residential, downtown business and planned unit development.
These land uses will be codified in the town’s zoning ordinance if the plan is approved by the Town Council.
“The Land Use Map is really important for guided growth,” Christensen said. “Currently there aren’t really a lot of restrictions on where things can go, and we want to be a little more regular with that.”
The last time the land use map was updated was in 2006. Since then, the town has annexed a large chunk of land to the west, including prime spots near I-69.
With continuing construction on the interstate to add an additional lane through Pendleton, new home and business construction is likely to follow through southern Madison County.
The average time a home stays on the market in Madison County is 70 days, according to MIBOR, which tracks home building and sales. For places like Ingalls, Lapel and Pendleton, that number drops to about 40 days.
Ken Miller, co-owner of FC Tucker OC Clark Realtors in Anderson, said last year that the southern edge of the county is expected to see a wave of new residents as the Indianapolis metro area grows and workers look for cheaper places to live in the doughnut counties.
“I think confidence is growing. We have had three to four years of success compared to 10 years ago,” Miller said. “Most of the people, about 80 percent, are working south of us in the Indy market but wanting to come north to live.”
The plan will help to inform decision on where those possible upcoming neighborhoods, residences or business will best fit into the town as Pendleton looks toward future growth.
Besides land use, the Comprehensive Plan also hits on some of the biggest worries Christensen said she’s heard from residents from Town Council meetings and at public input meetings about the plan including: park and recreation updates, retaining a distinct neighborhood and town identity, historic preservation and arts and culture.
“Through the public input meetings we found one of the biggest focuses should be on historic preservation,” she said. “Having our own identity is also something we try to keep in mind as we put these goals together and look at other towns.”
Many of the goals are immediate, meaning they are currently ongoing or can be completed in less than a year. These include using fiscal modeling to ensure new development can support public services; promote the preservation of natural features in new development or redevelopment; foster a closer working relationship between the town and the Pendleton/Fall Creek Township Parks and Recreation Board; and continue implementing bicycle and pedestrian recommendations outlined in the 2017 Pendleton Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
More long-term goals outlined in the plan focus on ensuring the transportation system can be navigated easily and continue involvement with the city of Anderson on the 73rd Street Project.
Devin Dummel said he’s invested in the town’s future growth as he hopes to raise his young family in Pendleton.
“I am excited to hear what the plan is and that there is a structure there,” Dummel said. “And I am excited about the opportunities to connect with the town more.”
Top of his list is ensuring the town’s falls and parks, as well as rural open areas, remain as the town grows.
Cricket Krengel also said she hopes to see Falls Park remain a focal point for the town’s continued development.
“Now that I have a young child, the walkability and charm of the park is so important,” Krengel said. “When people come from out of town it’s where we go.”
The town’s history and ensuring Pendleton retains its unique identity were top of the list for Carol Hanna, who was on the Steering Committee. And just simply having a plan is huge, she added.
“It’s more than just where buildings go, new businesses … it touches everything,” Hanna said. “We don’t want to see (growth) happen without a plan and things just go willy-nilly.”
Tuesday’s meeting was just the first in a list of steps to make the Comprehensive Plan official. Now that the final public input meeting took place, the committee will present it to the Planning Commission at a Feb. 14 meeting.
If the commission gives it a favorable review, it will be up to the Town Council, who could see it as early as April and vote in May.