Community members clash over potential rezoning

Zane Clodfelter

Louis Carroll, who has lived near the USI campus off the Lloyd Expressway with his wife for 50 years, can remember when IN-66 heading west was just a two-lane road.

Now Carroll is arguing against a possible commercial rezoning he said would disrupt the tranquility to the residence where he has lived for half a century.

“We welcomed the university,” Carroll said. “One thing we don’t need is the expansion of more commercial properties.”

Carroll said it is clear what the situation is all about.

“I think it’s greed and not need for this rezoning,” he said. “As you know, it’s a road that doesn’t need more traffic.”

The commissioners disagreed, approving the rezoning for commercial use for land located near the Eagle Village apartments south of the Lloyd Expressway. The four-acre area sits on Felstead Road.

“We need a tax base, and we need jobs,” Board of Commissioners President Marsha Abell, R-District 2, said. “It brings construction jobs.”

The decision by the county commissioners was met by a chorus of “boo”s in the room from residents who live in the neighborhood off of Felstead Road, with 73 residents signing a petition urging the commissioners to keep the area zoned as residential property.

As Abell tried to get the “boo”ing under control, she told the audience she didn’t disrupt the speakers who were there on behalf of the residents, prompting a resident to yell back, “You are disrupting our lives.”

Local developer Dan Buck said the property sits in a unique place, which makes it difficult for it to be used as residential properties.

“With student activity and the Lloyd Expressway, it would be hard to build as residential,” Buck said. “Billboards on the property aren’t allowed either because it’s a scenic route along that stretch of the highway.”

USI’s Vice President for Finance and Administration Mark Rozewski spoke on behalf of the university and echoed the sentiments felt by neighbors who opposed the rezoning of the property, citing empty storefronts along the Lloyd Expressway one mile east of the site in University Park.

“This might be the very first time USI came here with an opinion about something,” Rozewski said. “There are already substantial vacancies.”

Rozewski warned that if “spot-zoning” continues along residential or agricultural land it would “cannibalize any existing retail operation.”

Buck told the board that he plans on having 53 lots in the four-acre space along with a planned apartment complex that will complement the commercial property.