Carmel considers establishing four new waterway districts to obtain new liquor licenses

Carmel might establish four new waterway districts along the White River and three local streams to help the city obtain new alcoholic beverage permits and incentivize development.

Four years ago, Carmel was one of several Hamilton and Boone county municipalities to pursue additional liquor licenses under a state law that offered growing cities and towns more licenses than what had been allowed under the state’s population-based quota. The city granted the last of its supply to Keystone Realty Group last December, but a proposal introduced during Monday’s Carmel City Council meeting could offer new opportunities for restauranteurs and bar owners.

The council decided to send the proposal to its finance committee for further review.

“All this does is draw boundaries around a riverfront district that would allow a petitioner from the district to apply for an alcoholic beverage permit,” council member Sue Finkam said. “I think that would be good for economic development.”

As additional homes have been built near the four proposed districts, there has been a greater desire for new restaurants, Finkam said.

The first of four proposed districts includes an area on the northeast side of Carmel, from just east of Dorset Drive to the White River along 146th Street, and following the river down to just south of Haverton Drive.

The city has spent more than $5 million in that area between 2016 and 2020 to reconstruct River Road, extend Cherry Creek Boulevard and a number of other infrastructure projects. Hamilton County and the state have each spent about $50,000 there to resurface 146th Street.

Finkam said state law requires cities prove that they have made investments in those areas being considered for additional liquor licenses.

The second proposed district, called the North Range Line Road District, would open up new permits along Cool Creek, Hiway Run and Little Cook Creek. The vast area covered between Main and 146th streets includes those businesses surrounding the area where North Meridian Street and Keystone Parkway meet, including the Clay Terrace Mall.

Carmel has spent $8 million there between 2013 and 2020 on Circle Drive’s drainage, Range Line Road’s reconstruction and Smoky Row’s multi-use path. The county and state spent a combined $33.4 million there to extend the Lowe’s Way ramp to Range Line Road and upgrade U.S. 31.

The proposed South Range Line Road District stretches from 2nd Street Southwest, north of 126th Street to just south of 116th Street. That area includes Carmel’s downtown core. City investments in the last four years include more than $15 million for the Third Avenue and City Center roundabout, Range Line Road’s streetscape and Westfield Boulevard’s culvert reconstruction. The state also contributed roughly $670,000 to the roundabout.

Finally, the Crooked Creek Riverfront District could encompass the area along Michigan Road, from just north of Nottingham Drive to 96th Street.

The city invested $5.2 million in 96th Street’s multi-use path there between 2016 and this year. County contributions during that time frame also include $1.6 million for improvements to Michigan Road.

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7 thoughts on “Carmel considers establishing four new waterway districts to obtain new liquor licenses

  1. Why should the government limit the number of alcohol permits to begin with? It sounds like protectionism. Obviously they should be regulated, but limited in numbers?? That’s an overreach.

    1. Coming from Chicago originally, this is something they do in Crook County so the politicians can extract “consideration” from the applicants.

  2. This a good move and has some historical basis. Indianapolis used to have a law on the books that a tavern had to be on a named street to be legal. As you drive around downtown, you will see names on the alleys, like Hudson, Scioto, Tecumseh, Ogden, etc… Now you know why all of the downtown Indy alleys have names.

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