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Indianapolis neighborhood group sues city over controversial project

June 7, 2018

A north-side Indianapolis neighborhood association is suing the city over a zoning decision reversal that allows a controversial mixed-use project near Keystone at the Crossing to be built.

The Driftwood Hills Neighborhood Association filed the suit May 31 in Marion Superior Court and is asking Judge Michael D. Keele to throw out the zoning reversal.

The association claims the city wrongfully excluded the rights and interests of the Driftwood Hills neighbors when it used a clerical error to allow a prior zoning decision to be renegotiated.

Green Indy LLC, an affiliate of local developer Keystone Realty Group, was given approval to build its Alexander at the Crossing development on woodlands near the corner of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue.

In October, the Metropolitan Development Commission, by a 5-3 vote, rejected a request from Keystone Realty to rezone 5.8 acres of the 16-acre site just west of the Fashion Mall and across from the Ironworks apartment and retail building.

But in March, the City-County Council, in a move led by Republican Colleen Fanning, voted 20-3 to take the step of “calling down” the rezoning petition from the MDC, which Fanning said would allow for a “final attempt at negotiation” between the developer and Nora residents.

Fanning said a clerical error brought the issue back through the council and calling it down would give neighbors another chance to have their say in the redevelopment proposal that could affect what’s become known as Haverstick Woods.

The following month, in April, the council voted 18-2 to approve a settlement allowing Green Indy to build a revised version of the project. The two-story office and retail project would have a 28,000-square-foot footprint at the south end of the property.

The settlement agreement states that the developer will contribute $28,000 to Nora-Northside Community Council Inc. to be used for a “traffic and pedestrian safety fund.”

The settlement also limits parking on the parcel to 300 spaces, commits to building less dense housing on the north side of the property, limits where traffic can turn out of the future development, and requires the developer to “use reasonable efforts to preserve as many large, healthy, non-invasive trees on the development parcel."

But it was fiercely opposed by certain members of the nearby Driftwood Hills neighborhood.

The neighborhood association’s suit claims that Fanning’s decision to “call down” the rezoning petition was based on a numerical error regarding the site’s acreage amount — an error that was made by the developer.

Local attorney Russ Sipes is representing the neighborhood association and said in a press release that the decertification of a prior MDC decision is unfair.

“Due process should give everyone an opportunity to be heard,” Sipes said. “The City-County Council could have decided to hold a public hearing, but they decided against it. So our argument is that you can’t create a process that doesn’t give everyone their due.”

City officials didn’t immediately respond to the suit.

To cover legal fees, the neighborhood association is seeking donations for a Haverstick Litigation Fund via crowdsourcing site Go Fund Me.

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