An Indianapolis property developer can move forward with his plans to build a gas station and convenience story in the city after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday the developer was properly awarded a permit for his building project.
In March 2015, Gurpreet Singh, principal and registered agent of Three Mile Properties, Inc., filed an application for an Improvement Location Permit that sought permission to build a gas station and convenience story on a property on Lafayette Road near 86th Street in Indianapolis, which he had previously entered into a contract to purchase. However, while that application was pending, the Indianapolis City-County Council passed a moratorium ordinance which, pending an amendment to the county zoning code on June 1, 2016, would prohibit new permits for gas stations or convenience stores in C-3 zoning districts, the same zoning as the property Three Mile was seeking to build on.
Three Mile’s application was initially approved and permit ILP 15-00384 was issued. A group of local people and organizations, including Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods, Kenneth and Cherie Zahora, Michael Wiggington, Linda McElwrath, Traders Pointe Neighborhood Association, Inc., Marco A. Caccamo and Pike Township Schools, appealed that decision to the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals, which affirmed the permit. The BZA specifically found that the C-3 zoning permitted a gas station at the time the application was filed, so Three Mile’s proposed plans met the applicable standards.
The appellants then took their case to the Marion Superior Court, which determined that neither Singh nor Michael Cope, who had signed Three Mile’s permit application and was an architect on the project, were considered owners or lessees of the property. The court further found the application was not complete when it was filed, so the moratorium ordinance applied.
Thus, the trial court reversed the issuance of ILP 15-00384, so Three Mile appealed, arguing that decision was erroneous. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed Friday, with Judge Cale Bradford writing that the land contract made Three Mile the equitable owner of the property, so Singh, as Three Mile’s registered agent, was properly listed on the application as the owner of the Lafayette Road property.
If Singh and Three Mile are the equitable owners, then the application was complete when it was filed, Bradford continued. Thus, the moratorium ordinance could not apply to stop the issuance of ILP 15-00384, he said.
The appellate court, therefore, ordered the trial court to reinstate the BZA’s decision to affirm Three Mile’s permit in Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals Division III of Marion County, Indiana, and Three Mile Properties, Inc., (s/k/a Three Mile Properties – Gurpreet Singh) v. Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods, Kenneth F. Zahora (TRS), Cherie L. Zahora (TRS), Michael L. Wiggington, Linda McElwrath, Traders Pointe Neighborhood Association, Inc., Marco A. Caccamo, and Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, 49A04-1703-PL-554.