By Dan Domsic
Sitting at the little press table, I sat and watched people fill the Town Hall auditorium for the May 13 council meeting.
Seats started filling up, until there were none left. Someone grabbed some chairs from who knows where, and people still stood up around the back of the auditorium.
I scratched my head and tried to figure out just why people were packing the place. Food trucks weren’t about to reign terror over the town. There wasn’t some force at work to change the so called “fabric of Fishers” (I can’t take credit for that phrase. A source first said that to me a while back, and, well, it’s catchy).
What those people crowded the place for was to speak about an ordinance that would establish the I-69 Overlay District. In the future, churches and other not-for-profit institutions won’t be able to buy property in the area that runs up and down I-69, because part of the ordinance was approved by the council. The overlay district is about controlling what the corridor looks like, as well as pulling in tax dollars from it.
Most of the remonstrators in the audience were from various churches concerned about expansion in the area and what the overlay district means for plans already in the works, but others had other vested business interests.
The councilors were quick to say churches were important to Fishers.
Even though I’ve covered the area for a little more than one year, I still can’t exactly empathize with what it’s like to have a major thoroughfare cut a huge swath across the town.
Does Fishers even really know what it is yet or what it wants to be? Do you care if a church parks itself on the side of I-69 as opposed to, say, an office building?
Of course, the town definitely does. Think about how explosive growth has been during the past decade. Things are still changing, and there is only so much space to dole out.
Is barring new churches and other uses from the overlay district a smart move? I don’t have the answer to that question.
But, the question that does need to be answered is what does Fishers really want to be? Is it possible to go toe-to-toe with the machinations Carmel and Westfield have built or are building?
It was fantastic to see people take part in the process and be heard by the town last Monday.
Visit me at coffee hours from 3 to 5 p.m. at Hearthstone Coffee House & Pub on Mondays.