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Zionsville residents disagree on commercial development

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Zionsville Residents want to preserve Zionsville’s charm, reflected in its Main Street, as they grow the commercial base. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

For years, Zionsville residents have taken pride in their status as a bedroom community with more horse farms and mom-and-pop shops than chain restaurants and big boxes.

But after property tax caps crimped local dollars and a struggle for school funding prompted a referendum that failed, many locals have decided it’s time to attract what they’ve viewed as a potential threat: commercial development.

Now, residents in the 11,500-person town are tangled in a hot dispute over how to achieve that goal.

It’s an issue that took center stage in the primary election this month for seven spots on the town council, the governing body that runs Zionsville since it doesn’t have a mayor.

The primary likely settled the general election in this Republican bastion. But the debate rages on.

The primary winners had support from a group called Citizens for a Better Zionsville, which has been promoted by some of the town’s power structure, including current council leadership and those in the development community.

Their challengers, who ran as a team dubbed Your Zionsville, were led by Wendy Brant, a former Boone County commissioner and firebrand who led the opposition to last year’s school referendum.

Both sides say they agree the town needs more businesses. They also agree they don’t want to jeopardize Zionsville’s old-town charm in the process of attracting them.

Trouble is, neither side believes opponents mean what they say.

“What’s being said by both camps is identical,” said David Carr, a local attorney and former town councilor who resigned in 2009, in part out of frustration with council leadership.

“I just think the Your Zionsville group would have done it,” he said, referring to responsible growth. “We have one group that actually means it and one group that is saying it to get votes.”

Carr and other Your Zionsville supporters fear that Citizens for a Better Zionsville, because of its support from developers, will allow the town’s growth to be driven by developer interests.

But Citizens for a Better Zionsville supporters, including four town council incumbents who prevailed in the primary, say their actions to date have paved the way for strategic development—and proved their critics wrong.

They also argue their opponents do not genuinely favor commercial growth, but would prefer to keep Zionsville as an exclusive bedroom community drawing residents who can afford to pay more for services. The town’s median household income is $107,346, more than twice that of the state as a whole.

Zionsville map“Their vision is different,” said Matt Price, the current town council president who is aligned with Citizens for a Better Zionsville and isn’t seeking another term. “It isn’t arguing for a balanced tax base. It’s more Zionsville as a country club. What they’re doing is borrowing nomenclature.”

Foundation for growth

Over the last 20 years, Zionsville has tripled in population. But there’s been little commercial development alongside that residential growth, and the town’s tax base is about 93-percent residential.

As a result, Zionsville’s tax rate is $2.08 per $100 of assessed value—higher than rates for nearby municipalities such as Carmel and Fishers.

The lack of businesses stems in part from a reticence to let them in. Zionsville residents are fiercely protective of the town’s charm, reflected in its well-kept Main Street and attractive downtown shops, and fear an encroachment of chain stores and restaurants would make it look like a run-of-the-mill suburb.

The town, for example, has been in a legal battle to keep out Wal-Mart since 2006.

With that sentiment has come a reluctance to offer businesses tax incentives.

“There’s a mentality out there that good quality growth is going to come to us, and we’re not going to do the things we need to do to invite it in,” said Dax Norton, executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Corp., who helps market Zionsville to outside businesses.

In the last few years, though, that view has begun to change, propelled by the reality that residential development alone can’t support the tax base.

In 2006, a group of community leaders began discussing the need to craft a more proactive way to develop the town. Through Citizens for a Better Zionsville, they promoted a slate of like-minded candidates who were elected in 2007 and took control of the council.

Their first priority was to merge Zionsville with two unincorporated townships via referendum in 2008 to give town leaders planning control over the 52-square-mile area.

Last year, the council also approved increasing Norton’s involvement in Zionsville’s economic development efforts, increasing funding to his group from $2,000 a year to an annual $50,000.

And this month, council members approved a set of zoning criteria that would foster redevelopment of a 130-acre property between 96th and 106th streets and bordered by the busy thoroughfares of Zionsville Road and U.S. 421.

The now-vacant land is owned by Michigan-based Dow Chemical and was formerly used by the company for product testing.

Town and economic development leaders see that area as the first focus for new commercial development—a prime spot for high-tech or light manufacturing jobs with restaurants and retail to serve the employees.

The town has commissioned engineering firm American Structurepoint to come up with an economic development strategy for the Dow site and the tax-increment financing district that surrounds the area. That will include ideas for funding water lines and road enhancements needed for the project to be ready for development.

Town leaders see those moves as laying the groundwork for what will be a more aggressive effort to attract businesses in coming years.

Norton’s group has set a goal of making 20 percent of Zionsville’s tax base commercial within nine years, which would require an additional $150 million in commercial development. And he said the town can’t shy away from incentives if it’s going to be competitive in attracting jobs.

Chad Pittman, a Zionsville resident and former director at homebuilder C.P. Morgan who has helped mobilize Citizens for a Better Zionsville, said the recent election of candidates who endorsed Norton’s plan shows residents appreciate the town’s efforts so far.

“You have one group of people talking about philosophically controlling growth. Another side is saying, ‘Let’s actually control growth,’” Pittman said. “I think the voters got a chance to say whether they want to continue down the direction current town leadership put us on.”

Too much influence?

But what Pittman describes as earnest efforts are seen by political opponents as moves to promote self-interest.

Opponents believe Citizens for a Better Zionsville has been overly influenced by developers, and say the group’s real motive is to bring more low-priced cookie-cutter homes and apartments to Zionsville and allow for rampant commercial growth.

Campaign finance reports show the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors’ political action committee contributed to all the town council candidates who won in the primary. When Price won election to the council in 2007, one of his contributors was a mortgage-financing company founded by Paul Estridge Sr., a prominent developer.

Pittman’s family owns 50 acres of land in a highly trafficked corner of Zionsville, and his brother, Steve, a developer, owns about 100 acres in Zionsville. Chad has played a key role in supporting the candidates who align themselves with Citizens for a Better Zionsville.

“We’ve got a political action committee put together by developers coming up with a plan for our town,” said Valerie Swack, a current town councilor who has disagreed with the majority on several issues and chose not to seek re-election.

Those who oppose the current power structure believe those ties have driven what has transpired in the town since the 2007 election.

They point to Price’s decision after the consolidation of the unincorporated townships to have all board and commission members resign and allow the council to appoint new ones.

Price said that was to ensure fair representation from the newly consolidated areas, but opponents saw it as a way to select people friendly to the council majority to powerful bodies such as the plan commission.

“You’ve got political appointees coming in and driving the whole thing,” said Brant, leader of the Your Zionsville group that opposed the incumbents in the recent primary. “Out of all of this has come a very special-interest-driven approach of how we’re going to develop.”

Brant and others also complain town leadership didn’t draft a new master development plan, a process they say would have required more community input, after the consolidation was approved in late 2008.

Instead, they focused on having a group of residents—including Pittman councilors and city staffers—update the town’s transportation plan.

And specific elements of that plan, such as a new Interstate 865 interchange and an extension of a road through the town’s horse country, were controversial partly because some saw them as an attempt to appease developers.

Price pointed out that the interchange—which, along with the road extension, has since been dropped from the plan—initially was included in the late 1980s and was designed to alleviate traffic on heavily traveled arteries.

But at this stage, supporters of Your Zionsville take little their opponents say at face value. One thing both sides agree on is that town residents over the next four years will find out whether those suspicions were well-founded.

“They’ve made a promise, and they’ve got to run again in four years,” Art Harris, a 10-year councilor who isn’t seeking another term, said of the primary winners. “It’ll be something the voters can hold them to.”•

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  • Thank you Ellen Butz
    Good Day Mr. Dog,
    You are all over the map. Are you for or are you against development?

    Of course we know the answer. You are for development, we ALL are for development.

    The difference is some people want a master plan for the land usage before moving forward with development. Also, guidelines for developers on what the citizens of Zionsville want in their backyard.

    Irishman's Run subdivision is a beautiful development with lots of trees and obviously well thought out with a master plan.

    Congratulation to the Butz family that you said developed it. Job well done and a nice example to others who develop.

    THAT goes to show you the Butz family and many others are not against development. Just responsible development. Do you have a problem with that?

    The Town of Zionsville is fortunate to have Ellen Butz. She brings to us the best of both worlds. Thank you for pointing out her qualifications and an example of her family's outstanding development.


  • Harsh
    Wow, that was harsh but you are entitled to your own opinion. I find it interesting that if you feel so strongly you are not willing to put your real name behind your thoughts. Since I have joined the Parks Board our business has declined to do any business with the town due to conflict of interest. Ironically, most of our work is done outside of Zionsville yet we continue to reside here, keep our business here and pay taxes here. I did not realize I was telling everyone how hard I am working but I will try and keep that in check because for the most part the work has been fun and rewarding. I am not sure what the CAVE crowd is so I am not sure if I am a member or not. What I do believe is that development done right is what needs to happen for this town to thrive. What that looks like is open to opinion and I would venture to guess mine is different than yours!
  • Be Happy
    Hello Mr Dog,
    Is it possible for you to say something positive? You are Always negative, Always defensive and Always cut throat.

    Have a Great Day.
    You won the election, Be Happy!
  • Her Real Motive
    I always hear Ellen Butz tell everyone how much time she spends on parks board business or promoting Zionsville thru zbowl, what she doesn't tell you is she is also trying to sell her husbands landscape services. Very similar to her families prolific development interests with Irishmans Run. It made me sick to see them cut down all those trees on that beautiful property. I was also sorry to see Mr. Butz profit from this development and then move to the low tax confines of Carmel. It's funny how Ellen runs with the CAVE crowd and only likes development if her family is the developer, the landscaper and doing the landscape maintenance. Yes you can have your cake and eat it to.
    • My Dad
      My dad was an early President Zionsville Chamber of Commerce and I remember his passion about the colonial theme being so meaningful to the town's charm. Please keep that unique quality in mind as decisions regarding development move forward. Progress can happen but it needs to be thought thru/managed for long-term benefit and success.
      Thanks, Marv Brethauer
    • 3P
      And please stop referring to yourself in the third person. It's creepy...
    • Unfair
      Ms. Butz
      With all of this unfair criticism of Ms. Swack and misunderstanding about Z Bowl, maybe you can appease the small minds by listing the members of the committee and the strategic plan on the website or Facebook page. Then maybe it will clear things up!
    • Z'Bowl
      To: Zionsville24yrresident(I apologize for not using your name but it is not listed)
      Fr; Ellen Butz(a 25 year resident and Z'Bowl co-chair)

      Today I spent 4 1/2 hours with Valerie Swack and a member of the 2012 Host Committee showcasing venues around Zionsville in hopes of securing one of the hundreds of parties put on in comjuction with the game. Neither Valerie or myself(or the numerous other volunteers who have contributed time so far) get paid to do this. We do this because we believe in Zionsville and want it to thrive. We have been working for approximately 9 months on refining the plan for Z'Bowl. We have held numerous meetings explaining the vision, the goals and how the money will be spent. I wish you had attended one of our community meetings as we can use all the help we can get and you would have been aware of how we intend to spend the money.
      You might be interested to know that the Host Committee holds us up as an example to other communities as what to do right. In fact when we first approached them last summer they told us we were too early and to wait until they were more organized. Since that time we have been in constant contact with the Host Commiitee,some may call this badgering, in our efforts to keep Zionsville on their radar.
      Public discourse and differences of opinions when done respectfully are important to keep our system of government working effectively. But now it is time for all to move on, put the election behind them and get together on a positive initiative for Zionsville. Val and I do not always see eye-to-eye politically, it may be that Republican verses Democratic thing, but I would never question her motives and efforts when it comes to Z'Bowl or her efforts to use taxpayers dollars frugally..
      Again, I would love if you would join our efforts in making Z'Bowl an ecomonic success for Zionsville.
    • Wendy, Wendy
      While I have been warned that it is extremely dangerous to live in Zionsville and disagree with you, so I guess that I am about to risk my well being. First, what do you want that land to be, another park? I know that is what you wanted on the land at Anson. Look we can only have so many parks. Second, the continued threats that the developers, builders, architects, bankers, lawyers and engineers are going to take over this town now that Pappa Suarez dominated election day is just not true. That is what you all were saying when Matt Price and company dominated the previous election. No significant development occurred during Matt's reign. Last, if what you say is true why wouldn't the apartment developer wait for the next council. While you believe that Zionsville is for only the chosen people, trust me when I say the more people and business you can bring to Zionsville, the more our quaint, beloved downtown village can thrive. Let's help our downtown thrive, let's not hold back all other development because it may compete with our downtown. The world is flat and if someone can't compete they need to move into a specialty where they can compete.
    • Truth verses smear tactics
      Wendy Brant has opposed sprawl housing development for years, especially in spot-rezoning form. She always has championed needed commercial development for Zionsville.

      And this position, despite the recent wide-spread disinformation campaign, is the truth concerning previous Zionsville Town Councils.

      Development should benefit more than those who profit from pushing it and leave Zionsville holding the debt, especially in this economy.

      Watch what now occurs in the name of commercial development. Ask who really is profiting from what is happening!

      For example: A petition to change an area zoned for commercial development is the subject of a rezoning request for apartment development right now. How ridiculous to use an area designated for commercial development and rezone it for high density residential.

      Stay tuned, you haven't seen anything yet! Vested local attorneys and developers think they now have the green light to push their projects. Ask yourselves as this continues: who really benefits from what is going on?

      Remember - elected officials are to consider the health, safety and welfare of all Zionsville residents.

      Wendy Brant
      • Plan
        Eagle1
        Please let me know where this plan is that the developers are coming up with. Also, I would like to know which developers are writing this plan and when they meet. Since this is 'public knowledge' it should be easy for you to give us factual information on this.
      • Logic
        Bret, by that logic that would mean that Mr. Carr and Mr. Fortune lost the election for the Your Zionsville slate. Let's give credit where you believe credit is due.
      • Comment
        Hello Zionsville24,

        I think you are being too hard on Ms. Swack.
        Ms. Jarosz inserted Ms. Swack's comment where she wanted it to go in her article. It is unfortunate that the quote went after Mr. Pittman's comment.

        As far as her comment goes, I would suspect she has done her homework, and found that the people with developing interest contributed heavily to the present and future town council via the PAC/PACs. Which is okay because that is the way it goes in politics.

        People contribute to politicians campaigns when it benefits them either financially or philosophically or both. It is public knowledge folks with building interest and building lively hoods openly supported one of the teams running for town council with fundraisers etc. Which is perfectly okay, that is their right.

        Therefore, I can see why Ms. Swack and many others might come to the conclusion that after a win it is pay back time to your benefactors, you know how it goes--you scratch my back I scratch yours. That's politics.
      • No apology here
        Eagle1, youâ??ve made some very valid points in your comments. But I canâ??t agree with all of your criticisms, nor am I up tight.

        Read within the context of the article and coming right after Mr. Pittmanâ??s comments, Ms. Swackâ??s quote struck me as insinuating some sort of control of our next town council via a master plan by outside developers. If this is public knowledge, whereâ??s the plan?

        I donâ??t believe this is true nor did the majority of voters in our recent primary election. But I do believe Ms. Swack, as an acting town council member, could have refrained from making this type of loaded comment in the first place.

        Iâ??ve no argument with you about the good intentions of The Z'Bowl committee. The group has certainly worked hard and given their time to raise funds and promote awareness of their initiative. They deserve the thanks of all Zionsville.

        Still, thereâ??s $30,000 of town money earmarked for economic development in conjunction with Zâ??Bowl and weâ??ve yet to know what specific, targeted events they have planned. Regardless, I recognize they are working for the betterment of Zionsville and remain hopeful that their efforts will be rewarded.

        I agree that antagonistic is too strong a word to use in describing Ms. Swack's actions as a Town Council member. She has the right to oppose the many issues she has during her time on the council. I apologize for this description and would like to substitute â??often contraryâ?? in its place.

        Unlike Ms. Swack who continues to serve on the council, I voted for Dave Carr in my district and he quit on all of us who believed in him because he didnâ??t agree with the councilâ??s direction. Iâ??m still quite disappointed in him and should have left these feelings out of my comments.

        And like you, I donâ??t want a lock-step town council, which is why I didnâ??t vote for the Your Zionsville slate.

        Other than this, I stand by my comments and need to take no cue from Mr. Drexelâ??s obviously sincere public apology.

        Like you, Ms. Swack and all others, I am entitled to my opinions and will continue to share my observations as I'm sure you will yours.
        • Don't Apologize
          David, I read your blogs and felt that they were well documented. Any of us could have accessed that information if we had put forth the time to research like you did.

          Don't feel bad. I liked your humor mixed with the facts.
        • Sorry Doug
          Doug, you are splitting hairs.
          • Let's pull together
            Swack commented...
            ââ?¬Å?Weââ?¬â?¢ve got a political action committee put together by developers coming up with a plan for our town."

            That is public knowledge why are you getting so uptight!

            You mention..."Given her always antagonistic attitude." You might call it antagonistic but many see it that she is *looking out* for the citizens that see it differently then you do.

            I wouldn't call her attitude antagonistic, you just don't agree with her and she doesn't agree with you. So what is wrong with that? When a husband and wife don't agree does that mean one is "antagonistic?"

            Would you want a town council where everyone is lock step? That would be a little suspicious. It is unusual for 7 people to agree on issues.

            As for the committee for the Z-Bowl. I applaud the 3 citizens that have stepped up to the plate to help make this happen. This event could help stimulate the Zionsville economy and put us on the map.

            They are spending over a year volunteering their time on the Z-bowl to benefit Zionsville. It is sad when our town can't pull together for something like this.

            This is FOR ALL OF ZIONSVILLE! The Z-bowl hopefully will be beneficial for the short term and for the long run. Let's be grateful that this committee has a vision and is going after it for all of us, for Zionsville. I for one wish them well and will support them in anyway I can.

            You need to take a que from David Drexel and apologize. Re-read your own posts--they are so negative so mud-slinging (as you said Drexels were!) You couldn't even graciously accept his apology.
          • Wrong - again.
            Again - for the record:
            CBZ did not win anything. 7 out of 14 well qualified candidates did. It takes away from the amazing qualifications and hard work of the candidates to attribute their success to us. If you have any questins about CBZ, we can be reached at 888-814-7011 or citizens@betterzionsville.com. Thank you.
            • Good for all of us
              Hey Guys,

              Enough is enough! Congratulations to CBZ for winning. The citizens will be watching and keeping you accountable for your campaign promises. The SAME if Your Zionsville slate had won. The citizens would have been watching them.

              Just do what you campaigned on and make us happy in 4 years that we voted for you.

              We all love Our Town, let's grow up, move on, up and quit the mud slinging.

              Personally I thought Ms Jarosz's article was fair and balanced. If some took offense that's too bad.




            • $30k is
              If Ms. Swack is so committed to economic development in Zionsville perhaps she should have held her tongue and not volunteered such a negative quote in this article that will be read by more area business developers than her Z'Bowl party could ever reach.

              Given her always antagonistic attitude towards our present and future town council, I question whether she is the right person to head up a committee to put forth a positive message for Zionsville.
            • Clarification on Z-bowl
              Thanks for the opportunity to address a few misconceptions about Zionsville's efforts during the Super Bowl. This is an exciting time for Indianapolis, and is a great time for all of the surrounding communities to shine and take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

              A few of the posts mention using $30,000 of taxpayer money for a party, this is not true. The money that will be used for the festivities have been raised through fundraisers (the recent Night Moves event) and through donations. In fact the town just received a $10,000 donation.

              It is true, the Town Council did budget $30,000 for Economic Development purposes, and if used, will be used with guidance from the Zionsville Economic Development Commission specifically towards targeting businesses. The Town is currently undergoing an Economic Development Strategic Plan, and the money will go to attract the types of businesses the plan decides upon.

              Thanks for the opportunity to explain how the money is being used. Should you want to get involved, we welcome your participation!
              • Bunch of hooey from ZConfidential
                Thanks for the apology Mr. Drexel but Zionsville readers knew you were nothing but a mud-slinging mouthpiece for Wendy and her paranoid Your Zionsville platform. You ceased to be relevant or even moderately interesting long ago.
              • Election Says it All
                Are you sure Zionsville residents disagree on commercial development? I thought the results from the election said it all.
              • RKW, Ice Miller and the Big Five
                RK You must be part of Dave Carr's and Ice Millers Big Five CAVE Coalition. You know, Citizens Against Virtually Everything. They are against strong schools, consolidating and streamlining Zionsville's town Govt and a strong economic development plan. They were against annexing out to I65 to capture significant AV because they continued to say we are a town within a park and they would only want to annex Anson if Duke agreed to turn it into a park. Someone needs to ask Dave Carr why he thought it was a good idea to use taxpayer money to overpay his church with taxpayer dollars to purchase city hall. I smell a shill RK. For your information, THE BIG FIVE is Fritz Kunz, Valerie Swack, Dick Crane, Dave Carr and Wendy Brant. It is interesting to note that Fritz Kunz and company are against landowners and developers. I doubt Fritz felt that way after he sold Kunz Farm on Zionsville Road to The Estridge Companies for millions of dollars and then took his money down to his hobby in Marion County called Traders Point Creamery.
              • response
                Interesting, that the Pittman property is in the "future commercial" anticipated use. Why am I not surprised. Not surprised at the positive comments either. Almost seemed canned. Soon the entry to Zionsville off 421 will look like Keystone at the Crossing.
              • Confidential
                After many days of prayer and deep reflection, I would like to apologize for everything negative I have ever said in my blog. I am ashamed that I have unfairly criticized good members of the community anonymously and not been a constructive part of the process. I recognize that being negative and spreading conspiracy theories and inuendos are counterproductive to maintaining a healthy and productive community and I ask for your forgiveness. Thank you.
                Dave
                • Sore losers won't let go
                  The above article was incredibly unbalanced as it did not contain any insights from the winning candidates in Zionsville primary election.

                  The comments by those opposed to the present and future town council are well known to Zionsville voters.

                  So well known that voters resoundingly ejected any of the candidates supported by Mr. Carr, Ms. Swack and led by the Zionville paranoid conspiracy poster girl, Wendy Brant.

                  Like a child who takes his toys and goes home, Mr. Carr resigned his council position amidst much negative fanfare instead of representing those voters who voted him into office 4 years ago. Ms. Swack, Mr. Carr's replacement and a public critic of the current and future town council, has spent her time in office disrupting meetings and exhibiting an ongoing inflexibility to work with the current council members for the overall good of the community.

                  Yet Ms. Swack's curious Z'Bowl committee was awarded $30,000 of town funds to somehow promote economic development in Zionsville to Super Bowl visitors this year. To show her gratitude, she has continued her public condemnation of the town council.

                  Ms. Brant and her slate of yes-men were overwhelmingly defeated in this year's primary election. Their negative campaign of evil developers, loss of town identity and (gasp) the impending Carmelization of Zionsville fell on deaf ears of voters who support commercial development as a solution to lowering our outrageously high property taxes.

                  The seven men and women elected by Zionsville voters bring an impressive set of credentials, experience and vision to the future of Zionsville. But then your readers wouldn't know this as the article dwells on the rants of sore losers.
                • Carmel
                  Growing up in Zionsville, this article reminds me (my wife was right) why I moved to Carmel after I moved back to Indy. It's too bad that Wendy can't let go and I feel bad for my parents. Zionsville is a great town that could be in trouble based on their tax mix. I hope that the new council can turn things around. Hopefully, they will spend less time trying not to be like Carmel and more time trying to be relevant to the 21st century. I'd hate see it become another has been community that history is dotted with. I remember Wendy always writing in the papers warning people about the great conspiracies threatening us. My parents said that she would be nice to you until you disagreed. From then on a that person was against the town and an enemy of the town in Wendy's eyes. If memory serves me, she won by a few votes when she first ran for county commissioner and lost by a lot of votes when she ran for re-election. Art is right that there is always another election. She was voted out in the early 2000s and voter's kept her out this time. Maybe 2015 will be the charm for her. I wonder if she will ask for a recount like she did when she lost last time.

                  Despite Wendy's warnings, Carmel is a great place to live and work. My taxes are lower (and continue to decrease), our parks are better, we have more convenient amenities such as compelling retail to enhance our quality of life. The schools in Carmel continue to thrive and the citizens here voted to raise our taxes to support our education. It is a testament to Carmel that another one of Zionsville's own Brad Stevens chose to live in Carmel over his hometown of Zionsville. One of the key things that I have found that makes Carmel different is that it harnesses change and shapes it's own future. We have an incredible commercial tax base and a re-invigorated city center.

                  I hope Zionsville does well. I still have a lot of friends there and enjoy the Friendly Taverns famous breaded tenderloins and the warm atmosphere of the Cobblestone Grill. My friends tell me that Price has bridged his skills from great quarterback to an effective municipal leader. Given that he is a Zionsville native, it's hard to believe the non-natives proposition that he is poised to over-run Zionsville with "cheap cookie cutter housing". No wonder all of the good neighbors who live in the Estridge development at Spring Knoll voted out Carr's guys and that Swack is in the minority. Another one of Price's teammates, Rob Schien, lives in Spring Knoll. Is he the type of guy that Carr wants to keep out?

                  Carmel is a great city that I am glad that I live in. However, I am proud to be from Zionsville and wish Tim Haak, another Zionsville native, and the rest of the new leaders the best of luck. Mayor Brainard is a tenacious competitor when it comes to attracting commercial investment and economic development isn't under the IHSAA class system.
                • Special Interest Nonsense
                  As one of the 2 guys who did most the work of CBZ during this election, I can decidedly say I'm not a developer--but no one asks us.

                  Any report I've seen about this election and CBZ just takes the Your Zionsville gang's campaign rhetoric of us being "controlled" by big devopment interests. .

                  It's absurd--and not one reporter has done any digging. Heck, I'm technically the largest donator to CBZ. I did the website, photos for the candidates, designe and wrote the mailers/handouts we sent, built the 80/20 by 2020 campaign, influenced strategy, and more. It all totaled nearly $40,000 of in-kind donations -- but no one has looked into what CBZ is. My neighbor, Doug, who is an Army major (not to be confused with a major developer), worked a hundred hours, tirelessly placing signs, coordinating the mailings, working the phones, and canvasing the streets.

                  That's 90% of CBZ this election.

                  We did our own mailings for candidates that they did not approve or even see before we sent them. We had our own messaging, our own website and Facebook. We did meet with candidates from time to time, made suggestions about messaging, listened to how their campaigns were going, looked at ways to tie our messaging together--but we were our own bosses.

                  I didn't get any instructions from Pittman, or any developer.

                  I'm not saying this to brag. I'm saying this to demonstrate the lack of reporting and pathetic nature of Brant's hollow accusations.

                  Doug and I are middle-class neighbors in Zionsville who decided to get involved in our town's politics. Nothing more sinister than that. We don't claim that we are responsible for any candidate's (decided!) success at the polls, but we like to think we helped.

                  Next time, just ask.

                  Kevin Swan
                  Citizen
                • 10 Facts, 1 Observation
                  Decent article. A few facts were left out that are relevant. Francesca is a capable writer so she must have run out of space to fully develop this story. One, David Carr works for Ice Miller that has done bond work for the town and school system. Two, one of the "Wendy Brant" slate members acknowledged going to the MIBOR PAC for an endorsement but didn't get it. According to the first campaign finance report released in the town paper , Brant's largest contributor was a developer - Russell Fortune III of Fortune Development LLC. Three, Brant's supporters Dick Crane and David Carr voted to keep the cooper road interchange in the transportation plan in 2003 and Wendy Brant was a county commissioner with jurisdiction over cooper road when the interchange was on the plan. Four, the Price administration appointed Peter Hawryluk and Steve Schanke (recruited by David Carr, Wendy Brant, Dick Crane and Val Swack to run for town council with Wendy) for the plan commission and BZA respectively. Brant's own Peter Hawryluk voted for the Planned Unit Development Ordinance that Carr and Brant claim opens the door to unchecked development. Maybe David and Brant aren't as smart as they would like us to think and Pittman "tricked" them to support Hawryluk. Price also appointed the CFO of the IBJ who supported Carr's PAC during the school referendum - and lives in a multi-family dwelling approved under David Carr, Art Harris and Dick Crane - to the redevelopment commission. Those appointments donââ?¬â?¢t support the contention that Price is shutting out discourse. Six, David Carr and Art Harris both voted against sending consolidation to a referendum which went on to win 79% of the popular vote and enabled the town to control its planning destiny. Seven, Val Swack is spending (Price is supporting) $30k of tax payer money on a big party saying itââ?¬â?¢s for economic development with no stated plan of what kind of economic development she is targeting. Let's hope it is at least a fun party. Eight, Zionsville has very engaged, capable, smart voters - why did they overwhelming choose to keep moving forward. Nine, has anyone seen the background's of the seven members that were recently elected - or for that matter seven that weren't - Zionsville was lucky to have 14 incredibly accomplished individuals willing to subject themselves to our nonsense to help lead the town. Ten, Art Harris is correct. Voters will be able to weigh in again in four years on the direction of the town. Carr backed candidates lost in 2007, he lost the vote against consolidation and his candidates were swept this time (Wendy Brant lost by more votes than she received). It will be interesting to see if David Carr's candidates can do better next time - I'm sure his law firm, Ice Miller, will continue to get the school's bond work in the interim anyway. Who knows, maybe he can get the school district to hire Ice Miller to do some lobbying for them ââ?¬â?? he did financially support several of the school board members in the last election according to campaign finance records.

                  Observation, it's surprising that the article didn't discuss what the recently elected representatives' visions are, especially since the IBJ is generally written with business leaders in mind. This seems to be less about substantive information for business executives and more about parochial bickering. Who knows, maybe that's the message Carr and Swack want to communicate in this article to the business leaders she is trying to supposedly attract to keep them out. For the sake of the town and the school, I hope the new council is effective at attracting the business leaders to invest in Zionsville who may have read this article.

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