The Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 28 upheld a determination by the City of Carmel’s director of community services that effectively prohibits a gas station in the Village of WestClay.
The unanimous vote was in response to an appeal by VOWC developer Brenwick TND Communities LLC and Indy Holdings LLC, which planned to purchase an acre of land at 2425 Harleston St. to build a four-pump gas station. The petitioners asked the BZA to reverse a determination by DOCS director Mike Hollibaugh that a city ordinance approved in September 2021 prohibiting new gas stations with 500 feet of residential buildings applies in the VOWC.
Tom Houston, Brenwick general manager, told the BZA that he does not believe the new ordinance applies in the VOWC, which was developed as a planned unit development with its own ordinance to govern development standards. Per the VOWC PUD, gas stations are a permitted use.
“(Remonstrators) have a democratic remedy, which is to go to the council and ask the council to amend our ordinance,” Houston said. “If the council amends our ordinance, we’ll salute and that’s the end of the discussion, but I believe the director’s letter of determination conflicts with (the VOWC PUD).”
Hollibaugh told the BZA that his department determined that the VOWC PUD is silent on the acceptable proximity of gas stations to residential areas, meaning that the city’s new ordinance applies.
“I feel like the (determination) letter that you have before you is the right letter with the right outcome,” he said.
The Carmel city council passed the ordinance requiring a 500-foot setback after several people who live near the proposed gas station spoke out against potential negative health impacts of exposure to benzene and other chemicals associated with petroleum. At the time the ordinance was approved, city attorneys said the new rule didn’t apply to WestClay, but the city reversed course in December 2021 when Hollibaugh issued the determination letter.
Houston said the sale of the land to Indy Holdings was dependent on the company installing technology to capture benzene fumes.