New gas stations planned ahead of Indianapolis change

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Developers filed applications for 21 new gas stations around Indianapolis in the weeks before city officials approved a zoning change that further limits where they can be built.

Residents are fighting plans for some of the new stations, which city officials said would be considered for approval under the old zoning rules, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The City-County Council voted 26-0 last month to place a moratorium on gas stations in areas zoned for small businesses, such as clothing and beauty shops and office services. A task force determined that the city’s 40-year-old zoning code determined that such areas weren’t appropriate for modern convenience stores. They now must be built in areas with heavier industry because of their traffic, noise and around-the clock lighting.

“These aren’t just a garage with a mechanic that closes at 5 p.m. like they were four decades ago when these zoning classifications were written,” said John Bartholomew, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development. “There’s a lot of activity all the time around them now.”

If the construction applications approved, they would push the number of gas stations in the light-retail zones from about 80 to more than 100.

Scott Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said the zoning change was unfair.

“Let’s let the marketplace decide where the stores should go,” Imus said. “For a lot of people convenience stores are where they go to get grocery staples like milk. These owners are entrepreneurs. If someone wants to invest money they should not be deterred.”

Some living in a northwest neighborhood are fighting plans for a small retail plaza, gas station and convenience store.

Resident Michael Helsel said he and others are concerned that the station’s tanks could leak into a creek that feeds Eagle Creek Reservoir, which is one of the city’s major drinking water sources. Residents contend the gas station isn’t needed because there are 30 in a 5-mile radius of the location.

Gurpreet Singh, the owner of the proposed station, called the objections “baseless” and said it would be built in accordance with city and state laws, with safeguards to protect against any spills.

“It has been zoned like this for 30 years,” he said. “They (residents) had all this time to do something about it; why didn’t they do anything for 30 years?”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

 

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