Main Street rezone sent back to Carmel Plan Commission


For several weeks, the Carmel City Council has been discussing a piece of property along Main Street in the Carmel Arts & Design District. Soori Ardalan, owner of the Soori Gallery nearby, is looking to take 0.33 acres of land located at 321 W. Main St. and tear down the existing house to build a new business, thus changing the property from residential to commercial.

Much of the debate hasn’t been focused on whether the piece of land should or shouldn’t be rezoned, but whether the city council has the authority to act on this matter.

The council voted 6-1 on March 16 to send the matter back to the Carmel Plan Commission.

Earlier this year, questions arose about whether public notice rules were followed when the rezone petition was being considered at the plan commission level. Although the matter was passed along to the Carmel City Council, it was requested that the matter be sent back to the plan commission so that another public hearing – one that uses certified mail to notify neighbors – can be conducted.

City council president Rick Sharp disagreed with that interpretation of the law and said there was no reason that the council couldn’t keep the matter in a committee. He told Current that he sought out legal advice and was informed that his decision was correct.

But on March 16, neighbors voiced their opposition to Sharp’s stance.

Kelly Baskett, resident of 400 Emerson Rd., said she’s about 100 feet away from the property and she’s concerned about the size of the structure. She had drawings made to scale to show that given the zoning guidelines – which require a certain buffer between properties – that it’s not even feasible to construct a building that size within the rules.

Charlie Demler, who lives nearby the rezone, said a large commercial structure would feel threatening.

“It’s not a good feeling to have a very tall building right next to your house,” he said.

Beth Meyers, who owns the yellow cottage home at 331 W. Main St. next to the property, said she’s asked for some idea about what the building would be like, a rendering, a floor plan, something, and she hasn’t received any concrete answer. She questioned why it was even brought to the council in the first place.

One neighbor hired legal counsel, and spoke at the meeting about why it’s lawful for the issue to be sent back to the plan commission.

Ardalan defended her project, saying she is just asking for the rezone and that nothing has been decided yet. She said she’s happy to speak to anyone who is against the project.

At the end, City Councilor Sue Finkam made the recommendation that the matter be sent back to plan commission and it passed 6-1 with Sharp as the lone dissenting vote.

A new public hearing will be held at the plan commission level and the matter could be sent back to the council at some point.


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