Zionsville Plan Commission delays vote on rezoning site formerly proposed for 200 West


By Christine Fernando

The Zionsville Plan Commission voted July 17 to continue discussions on rezoning land formerly  proposed to be the site of 200 West—a mixed-use project denied by the town council last year. The commission pushed back voting on the issue until Aug. 21 to allow the landowners more time to consider selling options.

The potential rezoning is for three plots of land at 125, 165 and 235 W. Sycamore St. from B2 and B3 commercial districts to the urban village business district (VBD).

Attorney Roger Burrus requested an extra 30 to 60 days for his client, Barbara Hanson Slaff, who owns part of the land in question, to consider options for selling it.

“She’s just trying to sell her property, and the town wants nothing more than for this property to be developed,” Burrus said.

Burrus said he wants to return Aug. 21 with a clear deal and a better idea of how developers would use the land.

Town councilor Josh Garrett previously said VBD zoning would be preferred because nearby residents had concerns about the types of businesses and buildings allowed under B2 and B3. If the area is rezoned, the requirements would change.

B2 commercial districts allow retail storefronts and apartments that are often meant to spur development in areas with low retail demand. B3 commercial districts allow shopping centers, large stores and retail storefronts, often built along major streets.

If the land were to be rezoned to VBD, commercial uses would still be allowed, but certain businesses, such as heavy manufacturing, would not. Buildings must also be shorter in VBD districts.

Burrus said he does not see rezoning as necessary because such businesses would likely not choose the area.

“Those offices or businesses haven’t come up in the past, so why would they now?” he said.

Land in B2 and B3 districts can be more attractive for developers because of the height restrictions of VBD zoning, he said.

“In order to have a viable project, many developers feel you would need the ability for taller buildings that would accommodate three floors,” he said.

But for John Tousley, a Zionsville Village Residents Association member and Zionsville resident since 1978, rezoning is the best option. Although B2 or B3 may be more lucrative for developers, Tousley said rezoning benefits residents.

In addition to rezoning, Tousley said restrictions against specific types of businesses, such as taverns, liquor stores and night clubs, would be ideal for the area.

Zionsville Director of Planning Wayne DeLong said the staff would be open to discussing such restrictions in the future.

Above all, Tousley said the reason for rezoning is to prevent projects on the property that don’t align with what residents want.

“The reason for the VBD is that there was a general recognition that previous projects proposed did not fit with the town and community, so there’s a desire to find something that does fit,” he said.

One such project was 200 West, which the town denied after residents voiced concerns about building heights and traffic flow problems.

The 200 West project developers at one time proposed a 28,500-square foot, three-story commercial building that was estimated to be 10 feet higher than normally allowed for B3 commercial districts.

Commissioner Larry Jones said the property has been the subject of conversations for a long time, and the town is eager to have it developed, but that 200 West plans were too vague to be successful.

“It came across as some fort of fishing expedition,” Jones said.

David Franz, ZPC president, said rezoning the land to VBD might mean the land would be developed more quickly because of support from the community. But he said postponing discussions until Aug. 21 would serve no purpose.

Commissioner Franklin McClelland said he saw no downturns to waiting, while Jones suggested waiting until a developer presents a concrete plan before discussing rezoning.

In the end, all commissioners but Franz voted in favor of a continuance until Aug. 21.

“We all want the same thing, and that’s developing this property well,” Burrus said. “It seems to me that we can all win with just a bit more time and consideration.”


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