Carmel Healthy Neighborhoods Alliance wins gas station battle

The Carmel Healthy Neighborhoods Alliance just won a 18-month battle to convince their Indiana city to enact a 500-foot public health safety zone between new gas stations and homes, schools and senior care facilities.  When we started this effort in October 2020, everyone told Alliance founder and leader Jackie Phillips that the City would never adopt this essential safeguard.  Thanks to Jackie skills as a leader, her success in mobilizing citywide support, and Jackie’s efforts to educate City decision-makers this long struggle is now over.  By the way, the proposed gas station which started this effort has been nixed by the new law and other actions taken by the Carmel City Council.  Following is Jackie’s recent message providing further detail on this success.

I hope you are doing well. We wanted to update you on all that’s transpired these last few months. Since we last spoke, the amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for gas station setbacks to be 500 feet from gas stations and residential homes, schools, and senior care facilities was unanimously voted in favor of by City Council on September 20th and signed into effect on September 22nd!

Last I shared, that there was a second gas station proposed for our neighborhood and we eventually found out the owners also had a lengthy criminal past that involved 6 felonies, which included the sale of synthetic drugs. That did catch the attention of our Mayor and other City officials and gave them a stronger incentive to look for legal ways to stop the gas station.

In the meantime, the City Council initiated a resolution to amend the VIllage of West Clay (VoWC) PUD to either remove the use or institute a 500-foot public health safety zone. The city knew that it was a risk that the owners of the gas station could file before the resolution was passed and therefore would give them vested rights. On October 15th, they had partially filed plans with the City. However, the City still moved forward with the resolution to amend the PUD. The Planning Commission sent it on with favorable recommendation and it was heard this past Monday, Dec. 6th at City Council. It is currently going through the committee within City Council.

Through all this, our Mayor agreed to have our attorney, Kevin Koons, collaborate with the City Attorney and their findings showed that the UDO amendment should apply to the VoWC and precedent had been set with an application of another City ordinance!

So as of yesterday, the City officially announced the UDO amendment applies to the Village of West Clay! The city still anticipates the gas station owners to appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals and the applicants to sue the City. We still find this to be a major win!

This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for you! You suggested this amendment to the UDO and guided us through it. We would have never known to pursue this and encourage the City to amend the UDO. Thank you times a million! We are forever grateful for your help in protecting Carmel and our neighborhood. We could have not done this without you!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and this was truly a Christmas miracle!

Heather Misra, Jackie’s neighbor and a close ally, added…

The only thing I suggest would be to add something about neighborhood message sites, like Nextdoor. That was how we originally learned of the variance requests by Family Express and has been a primary tool in our box for communication. We know people have been watching the posts and paying attention to it even if they haven’t been actively involved in discussions and posting.  We also sometimes used it to communicate in a way (either outright or cryptically) with the developer and the OA board and executive director to try to get them to act.

 

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