For nearly 10 years, Home Place resident Claude Wood has been smoking meat to sell from his trailer from the corner of 106th Street and College Avenue or at events such as CarmelFest.
He’s stored his two Woody’s Flaming BBQ smoker trailers in his driveway for much of that time, but now that Carmel’s annexation of Home Place is complete, he’s in violation of city code.
Wood plans to construct a garage in the back of his property on Norriston Drive to house the trailers, but he needs to build it slightly larger than permitted by city ordinance to fit them. The Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals reviewed the request at its Aug. 26 meeting, unanimously granting the variance, but not before hearing concerns from a neighbor and the city’s planning department.
The complaints didn’t stem from the size of the garage, rather that meat would be prepared and smoked on his property one to two times per month. Wood’s attorney, Dave Coots, said Wood smokes all meat he sells commercially off-site but wants to continue to prepare 50 to 200 pounds of meat on his property once or twice a month for homeless shelters.
Dan Stevenson, who lives across the street from Wood, shared his concerns with the BZA at the meeting and through letters. He suggested in a letter that the city help Wood find a place to operate his business that is not in a residential area.
“For eight years (the Woods) have smoked meat in their driveway and prepped food in the garage,” Stevenson stated. “It looks like a catering business, it smells like a catering business and it operates like a catering business.”
Angie Conn, City of Carmel planning administrator, said the planning department is supportive of the variance for the size of the garage as long as Wood commits that all meat will be smoked off-site. She said city staff has concerns about maintaining the residential character of the property if commercial-grade smokers are seen in use.
Linda Wood, Claude’s wife, said she and her husband are not in favor of making that commitment.
“I am concerned that without allowing us to continue to smoke (on our property), our efforts to help the less fortunate might have to decrease due to competing priorities and the inability for us to multitask in separate locations,” she told the BZA.
BZA members approved the variance without commitments and concluded that whether or not meat may be smoked on-site is a separate issue to be reviewed by code enforcement officials.
“How we’re going to enforce not smoking meat is beyond me,” board member Leo Dierckman said.