Connections to Culver

The Dunes property is highlighted in cyan and yellow. The CabinetWorks property is directly west between The Dunes and S.R. 17

It came to my attention the other day that there are people suggesting that The Dunes not have a street connection to the Town and only connect to S.R. 17 to the west. This seems ludicrous to me, from a planning standpoint, an economic development standpoint and a citizen involvement standpoint. Aside from the bad planning involved with this idea, it is probably a logistical moot point. 1) S.R. 17 is a limited access highway and INDOT is rather jealous with their driveway permits and 2) Cabinetworks owns the parcel to the west between The Dunes and S.R. 17 and are unlikely to want to bisect it with a road. *The picture to the right shows the relationship between the property being developed as The Dunes and S.R. 17.)

Interestingly though, this seems to be a recurring “problem” in Culver. This goes back to at least the early mid 2000’s when The Riggings were initially developed on the north side of town with its street, Anchors Way. At the time of the initial development, the town required a connection to State Street, but later the development was allowed to void that connection. Similarly, there were no connections required between The Riggings and the adjacent vacant property to the west.

The Riggings, is highlighted in yellow. Maple Ridge is the subdivision adjacent to it on the west (left).

West of the The Riggings, the Maple Ridge PUD subdivision was built a few years later. It again does not connect back into Culver, but only connects out to S.R. 10. Maple Ridge was not required to provide any connection points to adjacent properties.

This came up again with The Paddocks with a suggestion that it connect with S.R. 17 in lieu of Jefferson Street. (The Paddocks connects to Culver on Jefferson Street and includes long range plans to connect back to Academy Road to the north.) And then again, the Culver Meadows development proposed on the NW corner of town by Culver Investment Corp (CIC) was allowed to proceed through the primary PUD process with no connections back to Culver.

The Culver Meadows project was particularly troubling since it was allowed to ignore the Culver Comprehensive Plan recommendations for the extension of Academy Road to S.R.17. The reasoning given for not making the connection a requirement was that there were property owners between Culver Meadows and Academy Road that were opposed to the connection. But that is short-sighted. The Town of Culver is theoretically here in perpetuity. Those homeowners will change over time. Culver Meadows should have been required to provide their portion of the required Right-of-Way through their property and Culver could have waited for the right time to make the connection using that Right-of-Way. CIC was already planning a connection to S.R. 17, so it was just a matter of making that connection where it could serve both needs.

Gated Community

From the developer’s standpoint, these controlled entrances are the next best thing to creating gated communities, but with the benefit of dedicating the streets for municipal maintenance. Theoretically they are reducing traffic in the development to their residents only. This is part of the mindset where we’re seeing more privacy fences and complaints at Council meetings about street traffic. The last drawing I saw for The Dunes has a single entrance and that didn’t even align with adjacent streets. (That drawing is several months old.) There are reasons why towns are laid out on grids and Cul-de-Sac developments lead to more sprawl. (See previous post here.) Grids don’t always work, but the connections are still important.

Connected streets cut down on traffic bottlenecks. What are the residents of The Dunes going to do when street work is required at the entrance? That’s 200 residences with no redundant connection. There is a reason water lines are looped. The same principle applies to streets.

Connected streets promote walking and biking. They invite current residents into the new neighborhoods and vice versa. This is how connections are made. This is where a new resident might get invited to a local Church or civic club. This is how they hear about town initiatives.

Connected streets promote block parties, garage sales and other community involvement activities. The goal of new development goes beyond the head count and ad valorem increase. Culver should want the new residents to become community members. We don’t need more part-time residents and we don’t want to be a bedroom community.

I talked about changing The Dunes’ connections to the town before. (here) I think that idea should be expanded to include additional connections. Make them part of our community for the future. Maybe this is another case made for an Infrastructure Czar… And as far as a connection to S.R. 17? Let’s suggest connection points to the west and south for future development. It’s just good planning.

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