Council gives ‘final attempt at negotiation’ for Nora residents opposed to development

The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night took steps that proponents say will allow residents of the Nora neighborhood to negotiate with Keystone Realty Group on changes to a proposed development near the corner of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue.

The council, led by Republican Colleen Fanning, voted 20-3 to take the step of “calling down” a rezoning petition from the Metropolitan Development Commission, which Fanning said allows for a “final attempt at negotiation” between the developer and Nora residents.

Fanning said a clerical error brought the issue back through the council, and calling it down gives neighbors another chance to have their say in an redevelopment proposal that could affect what’s been deemed Haverstick Woods.

Nora residents want to prevent the construction of a big-box store and a “near clear-cutting of trees” at the parcel at the corner of Haverstick Road and 86th Street—one block away from Keystone Avenue. Keystone Construction in 2010 purchased the parcel.

Nora neighborhood association last year voiced its frustration and opposition to plans to build a project known as Alexander at the Crossing, a $20 million, 60,000-square-foot office and retail building. IBJ reported last year that the project would have 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 30,000 square feet of second-floor office space.

But she said that the neighborhood eventually decided that there was potential for much more disruptive development.

“My constituents, the Nora-Northside Community Council and the Nora Alliance, have requested to continue the negotiation and continue to be part of the process so they can have a larger voice in determining the best possible outcome for this parcel,” Fanning said.

Fanning said it was possible for the developers to go back to a 2006 plan to build a grocery store and as many as 30 condominiums on the site.

“This has been a particularly complicated zoning case with a 13-year history,” Fanning said.

But not all were happy with the council’s decision Monday.

Prior to the meeting, a lawyer representing the Indiana Forest Alliance and the Driftwood Hills neighborhood, wrote to Fanning in a letter publicized by the Alliance criticizing the move, saying that the “flawed re-opening of a final ordinance based upon clerical errors benefits no one."

“Interestingly, it appears the reversal of position by some neighborhood groups to now support the Alexander Project and the new vote was based in part upon direct comments by the developer’s agents that without this new vote changing the outcome, the owner would develop the entire property using the now long-outdated 2005 [plan] … and would cut  much of the forest down,” wrote W. Russell Sipes in the letter.

The council members voting against the proposal were Democrats Blake Johnson, David Ray and Christine Scales. Democrats Vop Osili and Zach Adamson abstained from the vote.

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