Carmel board gives Lucases another month to settle party problems

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It will be another month before Carmel city officials and the Lucas family come to an agreement about whether oil tycoon Forrest Lucas can host large parties at his 70-acre Carmel estate.

On Monday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals agreed to continue until next month a hearing to appeal the city’s decision last year to deny a special zoning variance that would have allowed the Lucas family to continue holding fundraisers, galas and soirees on their property on West 116th Street.

The board’s legal counsel, John Molitor, told members Monday that representatives for the family requested a continuance in hopes the two parties can meet with a mediator to come to an agreement about the issue. He recommended the board oblige—but not let the issue linger any longer than one more month.

In September, the board denied the Lucases’ request for a zoning variance that would have allowed them to hold as many as 60 events a year with 700 attendees. Board members argued that Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil Products, and his wife, Charlotte, were essentially operating a commercial venue in a residential area.

City officials last year asked the Lucases to request a variance to allow them to hold semi-public events—including soirees benefiting not-for-profits, anniversary parties, birthday celebrations, political fundraisers and weddings. But the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals denied the family's request in September after nearly 30 nearby residents spoke publicly, wrote a letter or signed a petition opposing the request.

Neighbors complained about the noise from events, lights from traffic and the frequency of the parties.  

Some neighbors thought that was the end of the saga, but Lucas told IBJ in October that he and his wife planned to continue hosting events on their property at 1143 W. 116th St. because they didn't think they were doing anything wrong. “As far as we’re concerned, everything we’re doing is perfectly legal,” Lucas told IBJ. “We’re not breaking any laws.”

Last week, the Lucas estate hosted a larger fundraiser for the Indiana Republican Party. 

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