This is in regard to Carmel City Council member Jeff Worrell’s recent letter to Current defending his vote in favor of the 146th & Monon Rezone. As background for readers, this rezone will allow 15 townhouses and a parking lot to be packed into 1.26 acres that had been zoned only for single-family homes and at more than four times the permitted density.
Councilor Worrell contends that the property had not sold in two years “under the current zoning” because it faces a busy, widened 146th Street. However, this ignores the fact that 146th Street is flanked by marketable, well-maintained, single-family homes.
I counter that this parcel was slow to sell primarily because the price was too high. The initial asking price of $450,000 ($357,000 per acre!) clearly discouraged building single-family homes at anything close to the permitted density. A year later, the asking price was still $380,000. By approving this residential rezone, along with so many prior residential rezones, the city council has emboldened land sellers to seek exorbitant prices. Only developers wanting to build high-density projects can justify paying these amounts, and they typically make their offers contingent on getting rezone approvals from council. This cycle will continue as long as council continues to regularly override the established residential zoning.
As usual, the city councilors voting in favor of this rezone made no effort to require the developer to make any reductions in the project density, despite strong pleas by many area residents.
Councilor Worrell’s primary stated justification for his vote was to “protect” the neighbors to “fend off alternative uses like a commercial strip center.” This argument is clearly disingenuous since commercial development could not occur at this site unless council approved it. In effect, the city council was only protecting the surrounding neighborhoods from future undesirable actions by the city council itself.
Councilor Worrell closed his letter with the shopworn subjective claim that this project is “in the overall best interest of our community.” I submit that there are plenty of Carmel homeowners who disagree.
Dave Fox, Carmel