Fishers City Council approves zoning change to allow income-based, age-restricted apartments

A developer’s plan to construct 130 age-restricted apartment units in Fishers—including 65 that are income-based—won approval from the city council Monday night, despite a councilor's call for all the apartments to rent at market rates.

Fishers-based RealAmerica Development LLC filed plans earlier this year to build an apartment complex consisting of two buildings on a 12.5-acre site on the south side of 106th Street between Hague Road and the Nickel Plate Railroad, which will eventually be converted into a pedestrian trail.

One building would offer units at market-rates ($1,000 to $1,200 per month), while the other would set rents based on income, so long as the project gets approved for rental housing tax credits.

RealAmerica requested that the city rezone the land from commercial to the planned-unit development category to accommodate the project. The Fishers Plan Commission approved the rezone before moving it to the city council for a final vote.

Monday night, councilor David George made a motion to approve the rezoning—but only if the developer agrees to rent all of the apartments at market rates.

George told IBJ he made the request because Fishers spent a year rezoning that parcel from industrial to commercial. During that time, he met with many homeowners associations and told them the land would be used for commercial development.

Since the zoning is changing and will allow for age-restricted apartments, he said the developer should start with market-rate units first and see how those rent, he said.

RealAmerica's president and owner, Rhonda Shrewsbury Weybright, told the council that if she couldn't include income-based apartments in the project, she wouldn’t move forward with developing it.

“I have a passion for affordable housing,” she said. “It’s what I do.”

RealAmerica could decide to build all market-rate units if the project is passed over for tax credits, Weybright said. But if the council said the project can't have income-restricted units, she said she would "probably walk away." 

Councilor Pete Peterson said he was reluctant to support George’s motion because he believes there’s a need for income-based, age-restricted living in Fishers.

Peterson said he expected more pushback to the project from neighbors during a public hearing held last month, but “there really was none.”

At least three neighbors wrote to the city in opposition of the rezone, but only one cited “low rent” as the reason, according to the letters, which were included in information about the project posted to the city's website.

Monday night, when no councilor seconded George’s motion, Peterson made a second motion to approve the rezoning with no contingencies. George was the only councilor to vote against the rezoning.

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