By Stacey Clark, Driftwood Hills resident
The intersection at 86th St. and Haverstick Rd. is a forested parcel owned by Keystone Realty, a company that proposed to develop the property. The Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC) denied Keystone Realty’s proposal for Alexander at the Crossing, which was a request for a change from the previous commercial zoning for a big box retail building. Now, Indianapolis City-County Councillor Colleen Fanning is planning to call the proposal down at the March 12th full council meeting in an attempt to overturn the denial. (Zoning Case #2016-ZON-020)
The decision to call down this case is the single greatest threat to respecting the wishes of the surrounding Driftwood Hills neighborhood, of 300 plus homes, and would undermine the whole process of zoning denial through the MDC.
The Driftwood Hills neighborhood, with the support of Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA), is negotiating for a development that maintains the residential character of the neighborhood and preserves as much of this forest as possible as the Marion County Comprehensive Plan recommended when it designated this site as a critical area in 2005. The previous safety concerns of placing a large, commercial space on a small, residential street have not changed. The previous concerns with exacerbating traffic in a gridlocked, accident-prone intersection, have not changed. The need for an environmental buffer from sound pollution, water runoff absorbance, and protection from further commercialization on the north side of 86th St and west of Keystone, remains the same.
By attempting to call down the MDC decision, the City-County Council would be weakening the leverage of the surrounding community to negotiate with Keystone Realty for a mutually acceptable development. In the call down process, any negotiations that could be potentially reached between Nora and Keystone would not be legally enforceable. There is also a serious legal deficiency with Councillor Fanning’s attempt to call down this defeated ordinance, which will be addressed shortly by our legal counsel. Thus, Driftwood Hills is advocating for negotiations outside the call down process.
The Driftwood Hills Neighborhood and IFA are essentially asking for the same thing that the MDC did when they initially denied Keystone Realty a variance: come back to the table with a project that benefits the community. As the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the property, we respectfully make the following requests of the developer, Keystone Realty:
- Commit to a substantially lower impact residential development.
- Even better: keep the remaining 10 acres on the property as a park for the Indianapolis community to enjoy. Indianapolis ranks second to last in terms of park space available yet pubic parks provide numerous benefits for our health.
- Regardless of the plan chosen, please disclose your plans for the remaining 10 acres of the property. This has been a primary question from the community and other city planners all along.
We ask that Councillor Fanning urge Keystone Realty to negotiate with the Driftwood Hills Neighborhood for a compromise — not use the developer’s threat to clear-cut as an excuse to undo the MDC denial decision that gave the area a reprieve.