Residents of a Zionsville neighborhood to the southwest of East 300 South and U.S. 421 have been speaking out against lighting violations since the construction of a gas station at Appaloosa Crossing earlier this year.
The complaints include lighted storefront signage in the plaza and lighting on a BP gas station canopy.
The Sonatrach Sonarco Oil and Gas Project was cited by the town April 6 for using .13-foot-candle above the allowable level at the property line, according to Cameron Harris, zoning technician for the town. Foot candle is a measurement of light intensity.
According to Section 194.113 of a Zionsville zoning code ordinance, lighting shall not cause illumination beyond any lot line or onto any right-of-way, based upon the zoning district of the real estate on the opposite side of such lot line or right-of-way, in excess of 0.1-foot candle.
Residents say the lighting issue has disrupted their quality of life and privacy because the bright lights shine directly into their homes and backyard spaces at night.
“Not only is the lighting an eyesore, but it represents a broken promise made by zoning members of a strict adherence to no-light trespass into our homes,” resident Alison Bash said. “Despite repeated complaints, the entire development continues to flout established regulations, pushing boundaries at every turn. The gas station is just one example of this.”
Appaloosa Crossing is bound by Section 194.113 of a Zionsville zoning code ordinance, which outlines specific standards and requirements for outdoor lighting fixtures in Zionsville and the Michigan Road overlay.
In code 194.113, all lights within gas station canopies and adjacent to residential areas shall be of a “down lighting” type with the light element completely shielded on all sides and top. According to Harris, Appaloosa Crossing is required to follow the code.
Sonatrach Sonarco Oil and Gas Project had 10 days after the citation to correct the issue.
According to section 194.113 lighting standards, the fine for a first citation for a civil zoning violation is $50. A second citation is $100, a third is $150, and a fourth is $200. Each additional citation is $300, not to exceed $2,500.
The operator of the gas station, Paul Singh, confirmed that Sonatrach Sonarco Oil and Gas Project received the citation but has not been fined. Harris declined to explain why a fine was not issued.
“We are planning to fix the lighting soon and have plans to uphold the appropriate lighting standards,” said Singh, who declined to give a timeline on when the lighting violation would be corrected.
Despite sending emails and letters since the beginning of March to the Zionsville Town Council, some residents said no action has been taken to address their concerns. In response to the concerns, town council members have stated they are aware of the situation and are working with the gas station operator to address the lighting violation.
“It is my understanding that a notice/letter indicating an ordinance violation was sent to the gas station owners on April 6,” Zionsville Town Council President Jason Plunkett said.
“Within that letter was a request for correction citing a timeline, as well as potential fines and corrective actions. It’s important for me to express that silence, in this case, isn’t indicative of inaction.”
Amanda Vela, public information officer for Zionsville, said the town is taking steps to correct the situation.
“The Town of Zionsville is actively involved and working with the property owner to address the exterior lighting and resolve the complaints,” Vela said. “I will add that I don’t have the specifics of the timeline, but both parties – us and the property owner – are working toward a resolution.”
Residents are calling on town council members to take swifter action to address the violations.
“We are just asking for the tacky lighting to be turned down as it’s obscenely bright,” resident Jerod Leman said. “But since the start of Appaloosa Crossing, we have been constantly disappointed by the town council’s rubber-stamping absolutely every variance made to the overlay by this development without considering nearby residents or aesthetics.”