A decade later, subdivision plans still disputed

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By Ann Marie Shambaugh 

Much has changed since the Zionsville Plan Commission approved plans for a 322-lot subdivision along S. CR 800 E nearly a decade ago. The town’s population has doubled, the nation has gone through a housing market crash and recovery, and that led to the subdivision in question –known as Hampshire – having several name changes and multiple developers.

What hasn’t changed, however, is that the land still sits vacant, and neighboring residents are just as opposed to certain elements of the proposed development as they were in 2006.

Some of those neighbors attended the April 20 plan commission meeting to speak against the project, which is seeking to be developed by Beazer Homes. Among their biggest concerns were the perceived elimination of a commitment to build custom homes and a lowering of the average home price from what they believe was understood when the plan was approved in 2006.

Robin Meyer, who lives near the proposed development, was among the remonstrators who voiced their concerns when the project was first proposed. She said that their feedback led to many improvements to the development plan, some of which she believes Beazer is not honoring in their current proposal.

“Please don’t send a message to the members of our community that the accomplishments of our remonstrators nine years ago meant nothing,” Meyer said.

Tim Ochs, an attorney representing Beazer, said that Beazer has been working tirelessly with town staff to comb through documents compiled throughout the decade to determine the original development agreements. He presented a list of 11 commitments, ranging from upgrading nearby roads to adding pedestrian crosswalks, which were on the meeting agenda for a vote of affirmation.

Ochs said that the proposal not only included all commitments that could be found in the 2006 documents, which were never officially approved, but that Beazer went above and beyond what was required a decade ago.

“We’re trying to clean up a situation here, and I feel like Beazer is being made a villain,” Ochs said. “The truth is there were statements – not commitments – made on the record that we are trying to accommodate.”

Several members of the plan commission expressed concern, however, including Kevin Schiferl, who noted that he was one of the remonstrators in 2006. He recused himself from the discussion, but only after Ochs, plan commission president Allan Rachles and the town’s attorney suggested he step down.

Schiferls disagreed that a recusal was necessary, but he left the dais and once again voiced his concerns as a remonstrator.

“It’s approved subject to the commitments, and if you don’t live up to the commitments there’s no approval,” Schiferls said.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, one other factor still hadn’t changed. The commitments still haven’t been affirmed, as the commission voted, 5-1, to continue the public hearing until the May 18 meeting. Commissioners will use the time to review documents from 2006, and Beazer representatives plan to do additional research on what types of homes were originally planned for the development.


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