By Matt Werner For The Lebanon Reporter
---- — The Zionsville Plan Commission voted unanimously to send the petition to rezone the nearly 62 acres on the southwest corner of Michigan Road and Sycamore Street for The Farm to the Town Council with a favorable recommendation.
The property, owned by Pittman Partners LLC, was rezoned from a residential use to a planned use development.
While the commissioners voted unanimously 6 to 0 Monday, with Jay Parks absent, there were concerns raised by the public.
Gregory Zubek, an attorney representing J. William Ferree, voiced several concerns his client had with the proposal.
“My client and his neighbors are not averse to a PUD at this location,” Zubek said. “However, this proposal creates problems, leaves too many things open and raises some concerns.”
One of the concerns was that the area along Sycamore Street, where Ferree lives, would be used for office and retail space.
“We understand that this property will be developed, and we are interested in what will be developed,” Zubek said. “However, we feel that the Sycamore Street side should respect and reflect the longstanding residential nature of Sycamore Street.”
Zubek said the item his client found most objectionable was the types of uses permitted in the office/retail area.
“It’s one thing to have several smaller offices like a doctor or dentist,” he said. “It’s a completely different thing to have a host of commercial uses such as banks, general retail sales places, coffee shops, delicatessens like a Shapiro’s with all that traffic, right across the street from my client and his neighbors.”
Zionsville resident Doug Rapp was among many who voiced support for the project.
“I think this project was exhaustively researched to meet the needs and standards of the town,” he said. “My family and I are thrilled with the idea of a specialty grocery store possibly coming to town, and restaurants including a Shapiro’s.”
Ryan Metzing, who owns property in Zionsville, but moved away after 30 years residing in the town, also supported the project.
“I think this development is a great opportunity for the town, and I hate to characterize it as that because the town has historically dropped the ball on great opportunities,” he said. “Most times everyone starts bickering about if this is my Zionsville or your Zionsville and what the right type of development is. I moved out of town because of this inability to embrace this type of change, and I hope to move back.”
Commission President Allan Rachles read a letter from resident Wendy Brant, who also opposed the project.
“I think the overall PUD’s architecture is dreadful,” her email stated. “Aside from trying to cram everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into the PUD, there is no charm or traditional style, such as colonial or federal, that would be attractive.”
Brant went on to allude to a conspiracy between the commission and the Pittman family by stating “the ‘fix’ is (on) so the community gets to endure the Pittman’s get-rich scheme exhibited by this albatross that will change our Zionsville forever.”
Rachles responded to the email and asked if Brant was in the audience, which she was not.
“I am sorry that she is not here,” he said. “Ms. Brant has a history of coming up with conspiracy theories involving various government family members and people in the community. However, I think this time she has gone too far. I challenge her to come forward to explain her remarks and will welcome her reasoning. I think that if she does not, that is cowardly on her part, and it’s no wonder she doesn’t get more than one-third of the vote when she runs for office.”
The proposal will go before the town council for approval or rejection during its Monday, Aug. 5, meeting.
Despite having approval for the PUD ordinance, any development plans must still be approved by the commission.
Steve Pittman, of Pittman Partners LLC, said they anticipate a five-year build-out. The development would include retail, commercial, multi-family and single-family units.