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Neighbors debate proposal to build homes next to Little League HQ site

April 17, 2018

A developer hopes to build 78 homes on about 40 acres of land adjoining the proposed site of Little League International’s new Central Region headquarters in Zionsville, but some neighbors are critical of the proposal.

Pulte Homes of Indiana LLC, a division of Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc, filed paperwork last month detailing its plans for 57.7 acres at 8602 E. County Road 500 South.

The developer has requested that the Zionsville Plan Commission rezone about 15 acres bordering Whitestown Road from the urban residential single-family home district designation to the special use district designation, which would allow Little League International to construct its regional headquarters and two championship baseball/softball stadiums on the site.

On Monday night, the commission agreed to send the rezoning request to the Town Council with a favorable recommendation.

In addition to the Town Council, the proposal needs to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Plans for the land at the southwest corner of Whitestown Road and South County Road 875E, just south of the Zionsville High School Baseball and Softball Complex, call for all but the Little League property to be developed into single-family homes.

Pulte has petitioned the Board of Zoning Appeals to grant a variance of development standards required for the housing and for the Little League headquarters project to move forward. A public hearing is set for May 9.

Nearby homeowners say they are supportive of having Little League International in the area, but have concerns about the housing development.

Kevin Schiferl and his wife, Carolyn, who own a horse farm adjoining the site of the proposed development, say plans for the housing addition were filed without input from neighbors. He fears his family won’t be able to ride horses around his property if the homes are constructed.

Also, as the Little League deal unfolded last year, there was never any mention of a housing project accompanying it, said Schiferl, who previously served on the Zionsville Plan Commission.

Williamsport, Pennsylvania-based Little League International announced in November it would move its Central Region headquarters from the northeast side of Indianapolis to Zionsville, which was one of 70 communities, including nearby Westfield, to submit proposals.

Zionsville pitched its long-running local Little League program as a selling point to the organization, and as part of the selection process, the community was asked to help raise $1.5 million for relocation expenses.

The regional office oversees a 13-state district that includes operations for 26,000 youth baseball and softball teams and about 375,000 players. It also hosts the regional championship tournament in August that draws thousands of visitors and is typically broadcast on ESPN.

Schiferl said he didn’t learn a high-density neighborhood was being proposed for the remaining acreage until plans were filed in mid-March. Pulte representatives did meet with neighbors last week to discuss the proposal, Schiferl said.

“Look, we’re not anti-baseball. What I am is anti reckless development,” he said. “This needs to be vetted; it needs to be getting input from neighbors.”

In documents filed with Zionsville, the developer states the project “will promote a unique and positive, family-oriented use, which will benefit the general welfare of the community.”

“The strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance … represents an unnecessary hardship in the use of the property,” documents state.

Attorneys representing Pulte Homes could not be reached for comment.

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