Johnson Addition overlay zone talks continue at city council
Back in November, neighbors in the Johnson Addition area filled the chambers of the Carmel City Council to advocate for turning their neighborhood just south of Main Street and west of the Carmel Arts & Design District into a conservation district.
The council approved the measure, which aimed to preserve the look and feel of the area, but Mayor Jim Brainard vetoed the ordinance and it died.
Now, the neighbors of Johnson Addition are back in front of the city council, this time to support a new overlay zone that would enforce rules for new construction, renovation or demolition in the area.
Instead of a packed house, about a half dozen neighbors were in attendance at the June 15 public hearing for the zoning designation. Familiar faces took the podium who spoke at many other forums about this topic.
Adrienne Keeling, planning administrator for the city, said the new overlay zone is more focused on demolition and new construction than renovations to existing homes. Standards include building heights, yard setbacks, building mass, type of materials and building massing.
“While not historic in the conventional sense, the Johnson Addition’s proximity to the Arts & Design District could present development pressure in coming years,” Keeling said. “This proposal gives us an opportunity to decide what would be appropriate in this neighborhood before development pressure forces reactions.”
City Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider, who also serves on the Carmel Plan Commission, said the commission listened to neighborhood feedback and found that public opinion was split 50-50 on the zoning changes. As a result, the plan commission sent the matter to the city council without any recommendation, allowing the councilors to iron on the details in committee.
Chuck Ford, who was a part of the conservation district petition, said he feels there’s overwhelming support from the neighborhood to make these changes to protect the character of the area.
But neighbor Jana Souers said she feels the changes are unnecessary. She said she’s happy that a restriction on adding a second story to homes has been relaxed, but she still thinks the greater concern is large looming buildings being constructed right on the borders of this neighborhood.