Let’s start with a baseball analogy. Imagine a single player asks the umpire to allow a few exceptions (or variances) to the rules on his turn at bat. He would like to have six strikes instead of three. He would like to have foul balls counted as hits. He would like infield and outfield players to sit on the bench while he is at bat, so they are not in the game. Oh, and he would like these variances to only apply to him, not to any other players or teams, so the umpire really isn’t changing the rules. Ridiculous, you say! That wouldn’t be fair. Isn’t baseball about fair play and respecting the rules? That’s what we teach our kids in Little League and that’s what is in the Little League pledge.
Sadly, that is also an analogy for what is happening in Zionsville on the corner of County Roads 875 and 550 South, the land proposed before the Planning Commission and BZA for LLI Central Region HQ and a high-density Pulte Homes development (BZA Docket 2018-12-DSV).
Last year, a private group of citizens formed a committee (ZLOC, which was headed by a Plan Commission member and of which Pulte’s attorney was a member), to pitch the LLI HQ move to Zionsville. This was a private project so there was no public vote or referendum. Some citizens even donated towards this cause but without knowing many key details of the plans, such as the location of the land and the tie-in of a high-density private development. After the win, ZLOC teamed up with Pulte, an $8 BILLION public company, to help them secure 15 acres of free land they promised to LLI. Pulte agreed to “give” the land to Little League but only if Pulte gets the zoning variances they want to build a neighborhood that is out of spec with current zoning rules. Is it still considered a gift if it comes with an “only if”?
Pulte seeks variances (or rule exceptions) from the BZA (the umpire in this analogy) on the 40-acre portion of the land. Pulte wants to use the NON RSF-2, privately-owned, differently-zoned adjacent Little League property as Pulte’s open space requirements, disregarding the standard RSF-2 requirements and cramming 76 homes into space that Zionsvlle’s Plan deemed suitable for closer to 45. But the regional director of LLI, said this Little League facility will be secured around the entire property by a chain-link fence and not open to the public, and “will not be a park.”
Pulte is asking for these changes as variances (typically granted only in cases of hardship, remember $8 billion corporation) so these rules are just for them. What about the hardship that will be caused to existing neighbors specifically and any other citizen who travels through this part of town?
To be clear: We do not oppose Little League. We do not oppose proper development of this land parcel within existing zoning code. We want BZA (the umpire) to rule fairly and we want Pulte to respect the laws, like the Little League pledge encourages. We stand for the development of Zionsville in a way we can all be proud of and that reflects the true values that we teach our children. Let’s all play ball fairly!