Urban Planner

Riffing off my last post, here are a few things that I think an Urban Planner or similar professional can bring to the table… In the vein of my post, “Culver Needs an Infrastructure Czar”, an Urban Planner could step back and take a holistic approach on how this affects Culver now and into the future making sure we aren’t making another two steps forward, one step back mistake. I’ve broken these things up into major headings for some organization:


in-fra-struc-ture – /ˈinfrəˌstrək(t)SHər/ – the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.

  1. Existing Streets and Right of Ways – Are we planning for the additional traffic on South Main Street? I understand that this ROW will be expanded to 50′, so that’s a great first step!
  2. Existing Streets and Right of Ways – Are we addressing street alignment with existing streets that T into South Main Street? (Provisions for future street alignment was made when Garden Court was built, so Tampa Street should work.)
  3. Existing Streets and Right of Ways – Are we going to address the intersection of South Main Street and Davis Street? This is currently a dangerous intersection, which will only get works with more traffic.
  4. Existing Streets and Right of Ways – What changes in traffic patterns will result and how will they affect Davis Street, Ohio Street, Prado Street, South Main Street, Tampa Street, Tamarack Road, Wabash Street, West Shore Drive, etc.
  5. New Streets – Will they/should they align with existing streets as they meet South Main Street?
  6. New Streets – Will they/should they comply with the Complete Streets Ordinance?
  7. New Streets – Will they/should they allow for future connections to future developments, i.e. a stub street to the south in anticipation of future development on adjacent properties?
  8. New Streets – Will anything we’re planning today affect the future extension of West Shore Drive to S.R. 17 as shown in the Comprehensive Plan? Does The Dunes make this more or less appropriate.
  9. Water – Do we have sufficient water for fire sprinklers for the new apartments?
  10. Water & Sewer – It has been determined that we have capacity to add this facility, but at least with the sewer, we will be using up all of our excess capacity. Are there plans to create additional capacity for the future, i.e. What if something new is proposed that is desirable and can’t wait for a multi-year sewer plant upgrade or what if the Beste property (which is annexed, so we are required to serve it and is current for sale) initiates a new development plan?
  11. Water & Sewer – While the town and developer have determined (rightly in my opinion) that a direct street connection to S.R. 17 is not desirable, are we planning easements to extend water and sewer through The Dunes for future development to the west? That area is currently zoned Industrial and is and the area on the opposite side of S.R. 17 is slated as future industrial in the comp plan revisions. Sizing and locating those lines and that easement connection are important, though they remain best guesses.
  12. Water & Sewer – It appears to be the plan to extend water and sewer south through the new development rather than in the South Main Street Right of Way (a mistake in my opinion), so what arrangements are being made for future development to the south? Not just to the next adjacent property, but to future development on Tamarack Road and potentially down to Lost Lake? With this development and the “Toy” storage facility south of the cemetery, this is currently the edge of town seeing the most development. Are we planning appropriately to support more?
  13. Storm Water – There has not been a drainage plan shared, so all I can go by is the USGS map (above) which show this site mostly draining to the wetlands and Davis Street to the North. I would anticipate minimal issues if they use standard stormwater detention.
  14. Storm Water – The storm sewer line on Davis Street is shallow and has very low slope. Care will need to be exercised to avoid overloading this line.
  15. Storm Water – Garden Court has a detention pond that exits into a dissipation trench on the south side of the property. This was sufficient to prevent erosion and protect the farm field at the time. Provisions will be required to accommodate this if this solution is no longer appropriate. Unlike the dispute between The Riggings and Maple Ridge, this installation was approved during construction. Nevertheless, this should be accounted for in the drainage plan for The Dunes. (In my opinion, the same applied to Maple Ridge as The Riggings drainage was an existing condition.)
  16. Storm Water – There are not storm sewer inlets on the south end of South Main Street and the ones that existing on South Main Street now, drain to the line in Davis Street. Long range planning would suggest this needs to be addressed. Again, just going by the USGS, best guess is that this would drain to Lost Lake unless more extreme measures are taken. Area for some municipal detention may need to be planned.


aes-thet-ics – /esˈTHediks/ – a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.

  1. There have been many discussions regarding how this project will look. Garden Court cleared some of the area along the street line, but took pains to save the best of the mature trees along South Main Street. Would including a street tree plan that enhances South Main Street help with some of the concerns?
  2. There have been complaints that these will probably be (we have not seen examples) cookie cutter style houses with a minimal variety of style. This is very subjective, since some people appreciate neighborhood conformity and others do not. But including some minimal public input and input from a paid outsider (Urban Planner) may help make this more palatable.
  3. A Boulevard entrance could enhance the public face of this development and reduce the fears of existing residents. Using the easement set aside by Garden Court, there is sufficient space for this.
  4. The charrette that was completed for Culver years ago identified themes that should be considered in new developments such as the continued use of field stone. (Look at the townhouses at The Paddocks.) Has this been suggested and promoted? We literally have a Bungalow District in Culver. Has there been any suggestion that some of that theme should be continued?
  5. The landscaping will make a huge difference in how this development appears. Has there been any discussion of tree species? Sustainable Landscaping? Street Trees?


cul-ture – /ˈkəlCHər/ – the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular social group.

  1. What steps can be taken to see a rotation and integration of existing residents into this new facility? One benefit would be to free up larger homes currently occupied by empty-nesters for new families in town.
  2. What steps can be taken to integrate the new residents into the fabric of Culver? Much like Job Fairs, a Club Fair might be appropriate, introducing new residents to existing groups such as Kiwanis, Lions Club, the various Churches, etc. All of them are hungry for new members.
  3. When the two developments at Sand Hill Farm were starting out, the Visitor’s Center created baskets with things to introduce new residents to Culver. Much like the old Welcome Wagon, this was a good first step. There’s no good way to judge how successful this was, but the residents were grateful and probably found out about the offerings of local businesses that they otherwise might not have know about.
  4. One obstacle to integration is the general design of subdivisions like this. They tend to create enclaves and turn their backs to the surrounding communities. This design works and sells, but it changes things. As proposed, the new homes will have backyards facing South Main Street. The backs of these houses will be facing the fronts of their neighbors on the east side of the street. This is far from welcoming. What can be done to help with this?
  5. Are there other communities going through this kind of change that are comparable? What can we do to emulate their successes and avoid their mistakes. Carmel and Fishers have subdivisions like this going in right and left, but we’re feeling the difference of this in Culver, a rural community. How do we make this better?

I feel that an outside eye is needed here. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of things that should be considered. Someone (or firm) that has worked with communities like ours and has experience in this type of change to smaller towns. Just like the funds being expended on outside legal advice and outside financial advice, this is place where we could benefit from planning advice. I think it could go a long way to making things better.

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