By Karen Kennedy
An important change was made to the Range Line Road Overlay during the Carmel Land Use Committee meeting on Aug, 27. An overlay is a set of additional restrictions placed on a particular neighborhood or commercial area in addition to current zoning and land use requirements.
The Range Line Road Overlay was established in 2005. Criteria included landscaping, lighting and brick façade requirements. It also mandated that all new buildings be two stories. This requirement presented a stumbling block for some new businesses that had their eyes on Range Line Road. It was a deal-breaker for Earth Fare, so they received a variance. Several businesses along Range Line Road have vacant space upstairs that they cannot or will not rent.
“CVS cannot rent the space upstairs due to security concerns related to the controlled substances in the pharmacy,” Councilor Luci Snyder said. “The second story on the Shapiro’s building was used for a small office but it was an expensive requirement. Turkey Hill’s second floor has been empty since it opened and KFC’s upstairs is empty too. The Fineberg building, which houses Noodles & Company, only works because Fineberg moved their offices there.”
“This was an attempt to get a certain look for the area, but we had to acknowledge that it wasn’t working for the businesses,” Snyder continued.
The Carmel Chamber of Commerce’s 14-member business issues committee had mixed views on the requirement.
“Some members took the position of putting themselves in the shoes of business owners who have already had to comply,” said Mo Merhoff, chamber president. “They were saying, ‘I wouldn’t be too happy if I had been forced to do this and now other new businesses don’t have to.’ But others worried that new businesses might be put off by the requirement and felt it needed to be changed. I could get on either soap box. I can see both sides.”
An ordinance will be drafted to amend the overlay and presented to the city council on Sept. 16.
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