Proposed resolution transfers authority to waive park impact fees from Carmel’s Board of Public Works to city council


Newly elected at-large Carmel City Councilmembers Rich Taylor and Matt Snyder haven’t even been on the dais for their first public meeting yet, but already they are co-sponsors of a resolution to be introduced Jan. 8.

The resolution aims to set in motion a process to amend the Unified Development Ordinance that would remove the Carmel Board of Public Works’ ability to grant park impact fee waivers and instead give that authority to the city council. A park impact fee of $4,882 is tied to each new dwelling unit constructed in the city and – if it’s not waived – is used by Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation to expand the park system for a growing population.

In the last decade, the BPW – an appointed board – has granted more than $25 million in park impact fee waivers, with approximately half of that total approved in December 2023. In doing so, an equivalent amount of funds has been diverted to the Carmel Redevelopment Commission as cash payments for yet-to-be-identified projects or addition of urban park amenities, such as Midtown Plaza or the implementation of the Palladiscope light projection show.

CCPR has asked a Hamilton County judge to rule on whether the city’s diversion of the dollars from CCPR to a CRC fund is legal, but in the meantime the city council is taking action.

“We’re (proposing) changing this ordinance to create a more transparent process with accountability to elected leadership that ensures park impact fees are used based upon community input received through various planning processes,” said Taylor, who served as president of the CCPR board until resigning the day before taking office as a city councilor on Jan. 1.

City code requires amendments to the UDO to begin with the Carmel Plan Commission, and the proposed resolution asks the commission to begin that process. If the plan commission consents, it would hold a public hearing on the changes before voting on them. The city council would have the final vote on any amendments to the UDO.

If the UDO is amended, the changes won’t go into effect until six months after they are approved. With several redevelopment projects in the early planning stages, Taylor said it is important to begin the amendment process as soon as possible.

City councilor Adam Aasen, who represents the Southeast District, is a third co-sponsor of the resolution with Taylor and Snyder.