Apartments, retail removed from Wolf Run rezone request

Homes in the development’s empty nester area are proposed to have the character of this one. (Submitted photo)
Homes in the development’s empty nester area are proposed to have the character of this one. (Submitted photo)

Developers of the proposed Wolf Run neighborhood have removed 12 acres of retail and apartment uses from their rezoning petition before the Zionsville Plan Commission, leaving 349 homes on 223 acres requested to be rezoned from R-1 residential to a planned unit development. A second entry from SR 32 has also been added to the project.

The land is on the site of the defunct Wolf Run Golf Club on the southwest corner of US 421 and SR 32. It is proposed to have a mix of home sizes and styles, from empty-nester houses to estate lots, ranging in price from $400,000 to $1.5 million. Plans also call for a clubhouse of at least 3,000 square feet, walking trails and a swimming pool.

At the request of the petitioner, the commission continued the item to its Feb. 20 meeting to allow more time for commissioners and the public to review the updated plans, which were submitted within a day of the meeting.

Developer Stan Burton said after the Jan. 16 plan commission meeting that his team was trying to look more than a decade into the future when it originally included the mixed-use parcel at the northeast corner of the project, and that they left potential uses – such as apartments – overly broad in an attempt to anticipate a variety of options at the site.

“We’ll let the future dictate future needs as opposed to us trying to predict what may be,” he said. “It’s easier for us to remove it than to start parsing pieces of it.”

If Wolf Run is developed, Burton said he would submit a new plan for the 12-acre parcel when it’s more clear what type of development would be best at that site. He’s expecting an expansion of the nearby Indianapolis Executive Airport and other residential developments to take shape before he would submit another request.

“(The 349 homes in Wolf Run) are still not enough to warrant a retail center,” Burton said. “We need not only our development, but we need more rooftops in the area to lead us to what that corner needs to be.”

Several residents who live near the site have spoken out against the project, and they raised more than their goal of $15,000 through a GoFundMe site in one month to oppose it. Zionsville attorney Mike Andreoli spoke on their behalf at the ZPC meeting.

“This (project) is not for their benefit. They’ll take their chances with an R-1 zoning classification if (developers) want to come in and do that,” he said. “The reason they’re proposing a PUD is very basic and simple. Since they’re leapfrogging where development is now, the cost of bringing sanitary sewer and water service is exponentially higher. In order to justify and pay for that they have to increase density to sell lots.”

Zionsville Community Schools Board of Trustees member Shari Alexander Richey also commented on the proposal, first in her role as a school board member and then as a nearby resident. To determine the financial impact of a development on ZCS, she said most developers use numbers provided by the district to estimate how many students would live in a proposed development but that Wolf Run developers used their own lower numbers.

“I don’t know how they know what the reproductive tendencies are going to be for these folks, but I just want you to know that has a major impact on the calculation,” she said, not speaking on behalf of the school board or ZCS. “As we’ll see in our third iteration (of this project) in February, it’s just something you should know.”

Commission President David Franz asked why Burton is still pursuing a rezoning to a PUD when the revised proposal only includes homes. PUDs are typically used for projects that propose mixed uses, such retail and residential.

Burton said after the meeting that Town of Zionsville planning officials recommended moving forward with the project as a PUD because it includes a variety of home styles.

He pointed out that many other undeveloped areas surrounding the project are zoned for residential uses and that development in the area is planned to eventually occur, even if current residents oppose it.

“There are thousands and thousands of acres up there that are already zoned for residential uses,” he said. “We’re just the first one to kick the hornet’s nest.”