St. Vincent pulls plans to rezone land at Spring Mill and 96th Street

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Facing growing opposition from neighbors, St. Vincent Health and its partners are pulling plans to rezone 30 acres at the intersection of West 96th Street and Spring Mill Road in Carmel.

The Indianapolis-based health system said Tuesday afternoon it is still studying the site for possible development, but wants to “allow more time for additional planning and analysis and the creation of a more detailed vision.”

The move comes nearly two months after St. Vincent acknowledged it had options to buy the property, but has declined to say what it might do with the land.

In February, IBJ reported that Ambrose Property Group and Sexton Development LLC filed plans with the city of Carmel for a health complex at the site that would include nine buildings and four parking garages. The rezoning petition contained plans and drawings for a large, inpatient hospital and medical offices with an estimated price tag of $1 billion.

St. Vincent has steadfastly declined to say whether the drawings and details represent its proposal, but acknowledged it was working with the two developers.

Neighbors said they were frustrated because they were not getting clear answers about what was being proposed from the developers. And city officials, including Mayor Jim Brainard, said they wouldn’t approve the rezoning request without specifics.

The rezoning petition called for moving the 30 acres from either residential zoning or the Parkwood West planned unit development to a designation called Meridian Corridor zoning. It would require approval by Carmel City Council.

Since then, hundreds of residents from several neighborhood associations have met to oppose the plans and set up a legal defense fund to challenge the development. Some neighbors say the project would increase noise, traffic and water runoff in a fairly quiet area, much of which is now filled with open fields and woods, and bordered in several places by residential subdivisions.

Hector Gonzalez, president of the Cedar Knolls Homeowners Association, who is leading the opposition, said Tuesday he was gratified that St. Vincent was reconsidering the proposal, but said it was important to involve neighbors in the process.

“In order to really get community involvement, you have to listen to the people who live in the area, and be open with your plans,” Gonzalez said.

Murray Clark, an attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels who is representing some of the homeowners, did not immediately return an email on Tuesday.

St. Vincent said Tuesday it plans to refile a comprehensive vision for the property at an unspecified later date “that explores how we can create a space that’s focused on improving our community’s health and wellness.”

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