Zionsville Plan Commission not in favor of downtown proposal

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After almost another two hours of discussion, the Zionsville Plan Commission unanimously voted Monday night to send a proposed downtown mixed-use development to the city's town council with an unfavorable recommendation.

The project, known as 200 West, has been debated for months during multiple lengthy public meetings.zionsville-bp

The development, proposed by 200 West Partners LLC, would include a mix of single-family homes, multifamily housing, and a retail and office building with space for a restaurant on a 4.32-acre property to the west of the prominent intersection of Sycamore and Main streets.

Tim Ochs, a partner with Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller who is representing 200 West Partners, previously told residents at a neighborhood meeting that the project would cost $30 million.

A custom zoning designation, known as a planned unit development, has been requested, which would allow the developer more flexibility in design. The zoning would also provide guidelines for future projects on the site, should the existing proposal fall through.

At the start of Monday night’s meeting, Ochs requested the Plan Commission delay a vote until September, but the commission denied the request.

Many neighbors and other Zionsville residents haven’t been satisfied with what the suggested zoning would allow, and an organization formed in opposition of the project said Monday night that its petition had gathered more than 560 signatures.

“I think you can tell by the numbers that it is far more than the adjoining neighbors,” resident Lana Funkhouser said. “People are really quite passionate about this because they understand the impact it’s going to have on the community.”

The Zionsville Village Residents’ Association, which initially did not take a position on the project, is also opposed to it.

“This is simply not in the best interests of our town,” VRA president Sara Martini said.

Some of the concerns have involved allowing housing in a tax increment financing district, the impact the density would have on the school system, flooding on the property, increased traffic in the area and the height of the buildings.

Ochs said the developers tried to compromise with residents and modified certain parts of the zoning proposal, such as increasing the setbacks on the taller buildings and reducing the total number of housing units allowed from 85 to 70.

“We still think this is a great project for the downtown,” Ochs said.

But residents who spoke Monday night still weren’t pleased that the zoning would allow any multifamily housing and that the building could be up to 55 feet tall.

“It’s not a compromise here,” resident Heather Lusk said.

Plan Commission members voiced concerns about the zoning standards being too vague, which could allow for a completely different project than what’s currently anticipated. For example, the mult-family housing building proposed could change to a boutique hotel if the PUD is approved.

“As much as we are being shown one package, I’m kind of concerned with what we would end up with,” Plan Commission member Larry Jones said. “The way this PUD is worded, it’s a pretty open-ended ask. I would prefer to see something a little bit more tailored.”

The rezoning request now heads to the Zionsville Town Council, which will make the final decision. It is not required to follow the Plan Commission recommendation.

In a statement issued after the Plan Commission vote, the residential group opposed to the project urged the Town Council to follow the recommendation. 

"Zionsville Neighborhood Action Group will continue to advocate for responsible development and growth in the Village that maintains Village zoning ordinances for commercial, retail, and residential development,” the statement read.

The next council meeting is scheduled for July 5.

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