Lucas Estate variance request to get another hearing


Carmel’s Board of Zoning Appeals has decided to schedule a second meeting before deciding on a variance request for the Lucas Estate.

Owners of the Lucas Estate, a large property at 1143 W. 116th St, are seeking a variance to be able to use the property for semi-public events such as weddings, receptions, fundraising, recognition ceremonies and more.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said a variance is appropriate because if a large home is going to host multiple events beyond an occasional fundraiser or private affair, it needs to go through the approval process. He said a variance might be better than a complete rezone because it wouldn’t be tied to the land if ownership changed.

The next public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Monon Community Center, east building, meeting room B.

Jill Meisenheimer of Carmel Citizens for Responsible Zoning spoke at the Aug. 28 public hearing.

“If this proposal is approved it would be like living next door to a country club full of amenities and events without being able to become a member, but still having to put up with the events’ noise, light, traffic, parking up to 60 times a year with up to 700 guests each time,” she said.

According to the petitioner’s application, sound will not be a concern.

“For sound, we recently switched to a Line-Array system that provides very clear digital sound that reduces sound travel,” the application reads.

Chuck Lazzara, owner of the Ritz Charles in Carmel, wrote an Aug. 29 letter raising concerns about the project. He said clearly there is no economic burden on the owners to make them unable to operate the property as only a residential home, especially since the property is owned by Forrest and Charlotte Lucas of the Lucas Oil Company. The Lucas Oil name is prominently known in Indianapolis for its sponsorship of motor racing and its naming rights for Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play.

Lazzara said just saying that speaker sound will need to be kept at a reasonable volume or turned off at a certain hour is not always likely.

“The last time I ‘pulled the plug’ on sound at an event at Ritz Charles, the bride’s family refused to pay, saying that we ruined their daughter’s big day,” he wrote. “Sound is an unmanageable fact of this business. Today, young people like it loud, and there is nothing, not special speakers, pulling the plug, turning down the sound or any other imaginable situation that works. I have tried every method conceivable.”

Lazzara also noted that even if the Lucas Estate only hosted not-for-profit events such as fundraisers or weddings, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a commercial venture. He said they are still paying for food and beverage costs.

“There is still commerce activity at each event,” he wrote.

According to the petitioner’s application, the Lucas Estate is not an avenue to make money, but rather a way to work on behalf of the community.

“The Lucas Estate is simply one of the many avenues for the Lucas Family to carry out their philanthropic initiatives,” the application reads. “The estate cannot be hired out by anyone simply by paying a certain fee. This is not a traditional, commercial banquet facility.”