By Matt Werner
Similar to David slaying Goliath, the town of Zionsville has ruined the proposed plan of a major retailer setting up shop in town.
The Board of Zoning Appeals voted Tuesday night, Feb. 12, to reject Wal-Mart’s request for a variance from the big box ordinance, which limits the size of integrated centers to 125,000 square feet and single uses within an integrated center to 60,000 square feet. The retail superstore was asking for a 156,621 square feet integrated store.
BZA chairman Larry Mitchell recused himself from voting and left the room while the project was being considered.
More than 150 residents came to town hall for the meeting, and most everyone in attendance was against the project.
The BZA typically grants 15 minutes to the petitioner to present, followed by 15 minutes of people against the project, five minutes of rebuttal from the petitioner and five minutes of rebuttal from those remonstrating. The BZA waived those limitations because of the crowd and expanded them to 45 minutes for petitioner and remonstraters and 15 minutes each for rebuttal.
When it came time for those who support the project to speak, no one came forward while nearly 20 spoke against the project, many to applause.
BZA member Jay Parks cautioned the board before proceeding with a vote.
“What being asked to do is to look at just issue of size and not tenancy within that size,” he said. “Most of the remonstrance had to do with the petitioner as opposed to petition. I want to caution us as we go forward. We are tasked with the question as to whether or not we want to deviate from the standards we have built. That’s the question – nothing more.”
BZA member Al Wopshall made the motion and Parks seconded. The final vote was 4-0.
Member Gregory Morical added one final thought after the vote.
“One point that is important to make is that the burden is on the petitioner to show us why they need the variance,” he said. “Based upon what we heard tonight and the findings of fact, I feel they failed to meet that burden.”