By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Plans for three parcels along Sycamore Street were put on hold once again Aug. 22 when the Zionsville Plan Commission voted 4-3 to table a decision on rezoning the land.
Attorney Roger Burrus, representing land owner Barbara Hanson-Slaff, requested the continuance because his client has been contacted by a party interested in purchasing the 6-acre site at 125, 165 and 235 W. Sycamore Street. He said it’s too early to identify the potential buyers of the site that he described as “the poster child” of “non-development,” but he expects them to come forward with a development plan soon.
“They hit the ground running,” Burrus said. “They’ve had meetings with town staff and with other interested parties, so I do think at some point in the not-too-distant future they will be coming with a proposal to show you.”
The Zionsville Town Council initiated the rezoning petition from B-2 and B-3 Commercial Districts to Urban Village Business District (VBD) after several proposed plans for the site in recent years fell through. Most recently, the council rejected plans for a mixed-use development known as 200 West.
Zionsville Director of Planning Wayne Delong said the site has had a “fair number of suitors” in recent years, and that a plan has been proposed “on a yearly basis, at minimum.”
VBD zoning is more restrictive than B-2 and B-3. It allows commercial development but bans certain uses, such as heavy manufacturing. Building heights also are more restricted with VBD zoning.
Plan commissioners were split on the benefit of delaying a vote on the rezoning. Frank McClelland said it would be “an administrative hassle” to rezone a property for which a potential buyer had been making plans.
Larry Jones agreed.
“I would prefer to sit and let that happen rather than force an arbitrary change on a piece of property just because we feel the need,” Jones said.
ZPC President David Franz voted against the continuance. He said he didn’t think it made much of a difference if the site kept its zoning or received VBD zoning if the developers were likely going to submit a proposal for a planned unit development, anyway, that would require commission approval.
Members of the Village Residents Association, who have met with previous developers interested in the site, said they had not heard before the meeting that a new potential buyer had stepped forward. Burrus said he had discussed the idea of meeting with the VRA with the buyer.
“If they don’t, it’s just bad business to not get the neighborhood on board,” he said.