Carmel Plan commissioners split on adding daycare building to Jackson’s Grant Village 


The Carmel Plan Commission on May 21 voted to send amendments proposed to the planned unit development ordinance for Jackson’s Grant Village to the Carmel City Council with no recommendation. Typically, the commission sends matters to the council with a favorable or unfavorable recommendation. The council will have the final vote.

The 5-4 vote to advance the petition without a recommendation came after a vote in favor of the amendments narrowly failed.

Petitioner DeMao Retail Consultants is requesting several amendments to the Jackson’s Grant Village PUD, which outlines development standards specific to the neighborhood, to add a 1.8-acre site known as the Cunningham parcel. It is surrounded on three sides by Jackson’s Grant Village, and developer Republic Development had hopes when the PUD was approved in 2020 that it would eventually become part of the neighborhood.

In adding the parcel, the petitioner is proposing to add three townhomes and realign some previously approved townhomes to make space for a 10,000-square-foot freestanding building to be used for a day care.

Several members of the plan commission said they couldn’t support the amendments if they included the day care as proposed, because developers committed upon approval of the PUD in 2020 to limit retail space to 20,000 square feet total with no single tenant occupying more than 5,000 square feet. Three retail buildings within those parameters (separate from the proposed day care) remain included in the revised PUD.

Commissioner Dubbie Buckler, who made the motion to send the matter to the council with no recommendation, said she doesn’t “entirely oppose” the PUD amendments but that she’d like to see the originally approved retail space reworked to accommodate a day care rather than adding another building.

“I heard or read (comments) from a number of residents that if it stayed within the originally allowed square footage maximum, a lot of the opposition would go away,” Buckler said. “We put people on the moon, we can figure out a way to revise the code to do this.”

In 2020, the plan commission advanced the Jackson’s Grant Village PUD to the city council with a 5-4 unfavorable recommendation. Commissioners who voted against the PUD said they didn’t support the commercial node, which many nearby residents said they did not want. Some claimed city leaders had previously said commercial development would not be considered west of Spring Mill Road.

At the May 21 meeting, Commissioner Josh Kirsh acknowledged the commitments made in 2020 but said “the whole game changed” with the addition of the Cunningham parcel. He said the proposed PUD amendments lead to several desirable improvements, including lower overall density, shared parking and another child care option, which is much needed in the area.

“I understand that a day care is a continuation of the boogeyman of commercial west of Spring Mill (Road), and a number of residents who are very well organized have convinced themselves that this is a real bad thing,” he said. “But I’ve said before, this commission is tasked with making tough decisions for the right thing for the community.”

The city council will have the final vote on the PUD amendment petition. Its next meeting is set for 6 p.m. June 3 at Carmel City Hall.