Bike racks, employee showers debated in City Council committee

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The Carmel City Council met in committee on June 22 to discuss zoning changes, including requiring employee covered bicycle parking and showers in some new buildings.

The proposed amendments to current zoning law, sponsored by City Councilor Bruce Kimball, would require newly constructed buildings dedicate space for long-term bicycle parking. It would not affect existing buildings.

When it comes to employee showers, an industrial, office, medical or financial services building would be required to have one shower at 12,500 square feet of gross floor area, two showers at 30,000 square feet and four showers at 50,000 square feet or more. Retail or restaurant buildings would only be required to build one shower if it is larger than 25,000 square feet and two showers if the building is larger than 100,000 square feet. Four personal lockers must be designated for every shower.

City Council President Ron Carter said bike racks weren’t discussed at the meeting and that the bill remains in committee. As for the employee showers, he said it appears that won’t pass and instead there could be incentives for businesses to build employee showers rather than mandates.

“It’s an educational process,” Kimball said. “A lot of people don’t understand it’s not an ordinance against business.”

Kimball said he doesn’t expect the bill to be rushed back to council. Some councilors said they have plenty of questions they want answered.

“I’m not opposed to the bike parking, but I want to get into the details and I want to understand the costs associated with it,” City Councilor Jeff Worrell said. “I do understand that we need to accommodate and plan for bike parking. The showers? Right now at this point I’m opposed.”

Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, which combines the chambers of commerce of Carmel and Fishers, said her organization opposes adding more mandates for businesses.

“We would like to see that either remain as it is now or done on a case-by-case basis with the developer or the tenant,” she said. “Obviously there are examples of corporations that have chosen to make this an amenity, and that’s fine, but to mandate it we believe is exorbitant. You could be into major expense to build out shower facilities and locker rooms.”

City Councilor Sue Finkam said she would possibly like to see any formulas or ratios be tweaked so businesses aren’t negatively affected. She said some businesses might want to choose other ways to attract employees other than bicycle parking, such as spending that money on better health insurance plans.

“I don’t want to create a burden for businesses,” she said.

Carter said he hopes his fellow councilors and OneZone will consider that making Carmel a more a bicycle-friendly community will help attract millennials to work and live in Carmel. He said employers want those young workers.

“I’m afraid some might be short-sighted on this issue,” he said.

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