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Carmel council approves riverfront districts, sidewalk repair program funding

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The Carmel City Council met Dec. 7 to discuss rezoning requests, riverfront districts, launching a sidewalk repair grant program and other items.

What happened: The council approved the creation of four riverfront districts.

  • What it means: The state does not cap the number of alcohol permits approved within riverfront districts. Carmel had run out of available permits, leading to some restaurateurs wanting to open a business in the city choosing not to do so. The districts are in busy corridors in the northeast corner of Carmel, along Range Line Road and near Michigan Road.

What happened: The council approved creating a nonreverting fund for the Carmel Sidewalk Program and transferred $50,000 of unused funds from the 2020 Common Council Fund to launch it.

  • What it means: The program will allow Carmel residents to apply for a grant to help cover the cost of sidewalk repairs, primarily in aging neighborhoods.
  • What’s next: Details of the program are still being finalized, but it is expected to launch in the spring.

What happened: The council introduced an ordinance rezoning a parcel near the southeast corner of 116th Street and Range Line Road from residential to business use.

  • What it means: Most of the parcel just east of the Valero gas station is unusable for construction because it is in a floodplain, but a rezoning would allow development to occur along 116th Street. The Valero gas station will likely be removed when the city converts the intersection to a roundabout. It will not be replaced with another gas station, but the rezoning would open up possibilities for what could be built there.
  • What’s next: The city’s Land Use & Special Studies committee will discuss the rezoning at its next meeting, set for 5 p.m. Dec. 14.

What happened: The council amended an ordinance outlining the approval process for group homes in Carmel.

  • What it means: The amendment designates group homes as a residential special exception that would require a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing officer to conduct a public hearing on the proposal before voting to approve or deny the application. Previously, group homes with 10 or fewer residents were automatically permitted in residential neighborhoods.

What happened: The council approved rezoning 56 acres near 146th Street east of Towne Road to a planned unit development.

  • What it means: Ambleside Point is planned to include 260 two- and three-story townhomes and single-family homes. Councilors thanked the developers for working with neighbors, who had many concerns about the project when it was announced, to modify the proposal in a way that addressed their concerns.

What happened: The council approved rezoning four parcels at the northeast corner of Old Meridian Street and Main Street to a mixed-use district.

  • What it means: The 5.3-acre site contains Stout’s Shoes and a vacant building that previously housed an animal hospital. A specific redevelopment plan has not been proposed for the site, but the mixed-use zoning will align the site with long-term plans for the general area.

What happened: The council approved issuing developer tax increment financing bonds to finance improvements to support the Courtyards of Carmel development.

  • What it means: Residential projects are not usually eligible for TIF, which collects the increase in tax revenue generated by redevelopment to pay for related improvements. However, this type of financing may be used for age-restricted communities. TIF funds will be used to pay for road improvements to ease traffic near the entrance of the development on 59 acres on the northeast corner of Smoky Row Road and Keystone Parkway.
  • What’s next: Construction is expected to begin in spring 2021.

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