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June 13, 2014

Floyd County road-in-park debate to be rekindled

NEW ALBANY — A controversial proposal that would see a road built through a park that Floyd County and New Albany Little League hope to develop is set to be heard by a city board Tuesday.

The would-be connector road — Highland Oaks Drive — is partially complete. If finished, it would extend from Kamer-Miller Road to Charlestown Road. Highland Oaks subdivision is located off the roadway, and residents from the neighborhood have overwhelmingly stated their opposition to extending the street.

One of the main concerns expressed by residents is a fear that more traffic will flow through the subdivision if the road becomes a connector.

The New Albany Plan Commission — at the request of Floyd County — tabled the proposal to extend the road last month. It’s a detailed process that involves separate proposals from different entities that have a track record of disagreement.

5-4 VOTE NOT ENOUGH

In April, the plan commission gave a favorable recommendation by a 5-4 vote to a special exception request to allow Floyd County and New Albany Little League to develop a park and baseball complex on a 35.5-acre lot near Northside Christian Church off Charlestown Road. The property sits in the two-mile fringe zone, thus the city maintains zoning authority. But for the plan commission, at least six votes in favor or against a proposal are needed for the ballot to be official.

Plan Commission Director Scott Wood said that comprehensive plans in 1983 and 1999 called for Highland Oaks Drive to be completed if further development occurred on the property in question.

If the road were extended, it would essentially split the park planned by the county in half. County officials questioned the logic of developing a road in the middle of a park, but City Engineer Larry Summers said it could be done.

“We can make a safe connection through there using traffic-calming methods,” said Summers, who is also a plan commission member and voted against the county’s proposal.

In 2012, New Albany and Floyd County split their joint parks department at the behest of the city. New Albany Little League also turned down an offer from the city to develop its new baseball complex at the former Hoosier Panel site off Silver Street.

Floyd County plans on developing a park around the Little League facility complete with a walking path, playground and other amenities.

After the proposal for the special exception died due to the 5-4 vote, Summers suggested the commission review amending the comprehensive plan to remove the connector road completion.

The City-County Building was packed with Little League parents, Highland Oaks residents and other members of the public last month before it was announced the potential amendment would be tabled.

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